For Africa to flourish, is there a case to be made for dictatorships?
Evidence from the chaos that has befallen the Middle East may suggest that the democracy discourse needs to be reviewed as a working system for emerging markets.
It irks me that every developing nation seems to be compelled by the noisy clamour to be a democracy by hook or crook. Is that really the right thing to pursue or can it be argued that true democracy comes from maturity. Take parenting for example, you do not have a democratic relationship with your child until they mature and can take decisions for themselves. Up until then, you make them do what is best such as eat their vegetables and go to bed on time, even if they would rather not.
This may be a simple comparison, but people have an innate desire to be led and sometimes the vocal minority of democracy activists create a false impression that distorts fact and results in not only the fragmentation of the polity but the destruction of an entire nation e.g. Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria!
Looking at Africa from a historical lens so far, the greatest strides have been made based on the leadership of dictators. It is a fact that such good performance in keeping peace, security and order could be part of what keeps dictatorial regimes alive, but the Arab Spring has given a glimpse of what usually comes with the alternative – democracy. Ask any average person if they really care what sort of government they have, as long as they are safe and have the necessary amenities of good infrastructure to live a life with hope for their children.
I am not saying that the design for majority rule is a bad thing, but rather, the greater good is a better thing and that there should be room for alternative governance to suit social cultural variations. It is in itself a form of dictatorship where the West chooses to impose its governance ideals on developing nations rather than work with them to develop a governance model that is respected and workable.
If you require evidence of the failure of Western democracy, look no further than the US and Europe’s inertia over the Arab Spring and now, they look to Russia and the Ayatollah- arguably dictators- for leadership in this matter.
In any case, the African leaders must learn from current global events to ensure a governance that will not jeopardise their stability and growth. True leadership comes from doing what is best and not necessarily what is popular. True democracy comes with maturity of the checks and balances that make it workable. Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread.