Kenya’s democracy in distress
In this workshop organized by NIMD and HIVOS, two key players in one of this years most important African developments: the political crisis in Kenya, presented their perspectives on what actions should be undertaken by politicians and non-state actors to restore a stable democracy in Kenya.
Ms. Njeri Kabeberi (Director of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy in Kenya) reflected with her presentation upon the role of political parties in the Kenyan political crisis. According to Kabeberi the future of Kenya lies in the development of strong and well functioning governmental institutions including political parties and in addition, the Kenyan coalition government needs continuous pressure from civil society for peace, equality and justice.
It is this continuous pressure from non state actors that Mr. Wambua Kawive (Chief Executive of the Constitution and Reform Education Consortium in Kenya) also believed to be crucial in order to restore a stable democracy in Kenya. However, Kawive sees few reasons to be optimistic about the actual influence of civil society. According to Kawive the main political parties, now joined in a coalition government, have not showed serious interest in the input of civil society organizations and other non state actors to restore peace and stability in the country.
Dutch journalist and Africa-correspondent Kees Broere moderated the discussion in the presence of almost 100 spectators.
Speech Njeri Kabeberi (CMD-Kenya) , Speech Kees Broere and speech Wambua Kawive (Creco)
Fighting poverty in Malawi
The Dutch radio journalist Mr. Rik Delhaas and Mr. Augustine Magolowondo of NIMD’s East and Southern Regional Programme, took the audience through the democratic and economic developments of Malawi and deliberated about the complicated reality behind the academic debate on the link between democracy and economy.
In Malawi democracy was not the result of economic development. Multiparty democracy was established as a result of political pressure from inside and abroad. The limited economic development played only a minor role.
Neither did economic development result from democratization. As multi-party democracy was advocated as an alternative to dictatorship in the early nineties, it was promised that through freedom and democracy the people’s living conditions would improve. However, this was not the case.
Looking at Malawi's young democracy its failing economic development might be better explained by the fact that fighting poverty is a matter of political choice. A choice by politicians to stop fighting each other and start fighting poverty.
Presentation of Augustine Magolowondo
Zimbabwe: how to proceed?
The NIMD workshop about Zimbabwe focused on how the international community is to deal with the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe after the recent elections.
After the introduction of Mr. Pascal Richard (Zimbabwe Watch) on the current political crisis, Mr. Harm Evert Waalkens (Dutch Labour Party PvdA) stressed that SADC countries should be made to step up their monitoring of the second round of the presidential elections. International Secretary of the Liberal Party VVD Mr. Mark Dijk focused specifically on the responsibilities of regional superpower South Africa.
A public discussion followed, with Zimbabweans voicing their concern about the effectiveness of international ‘smart’ sanctions: further sanctions would hurt ordinary civilians and the ruling party ZANU-PF would misuse such measures for propaganda purposes. In addition to political pressure, the international community was called upon to allow organisations as the NIMD to support countervailing forces on the inside, by strengthening Zimbabwe’s civil society.