After long years of authoritarian rule, marked, in the main, by either civilian or military dictatorship, all the member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have embraced multi-party democratic governance. Although much progress has been made in a majority of the regional states towards nurturing and consolidating democratic governance, fairly slow progress is still manifest in the case of three SADC member-states, namely Angola, The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Swaziland. It is not difficult to understand and explain the rather disappointing record of democratisation in these three states. The main problem in both Angola and the DRC is largely the protracted violent conflict that has characterised them, although it appears now that the prospect of successfully settling these intra-state disputes is fairly bright. Swaziland is steeped in a traditionalism that has entrenched a dynastic form of governance in which the King, as an executive monarch, is central to the running of national affairs. This constitutes a critical democratic deficit for the country. One important ingredient of democratic consolidation in the SADC region is the holding of regular multi-party elections. It should, however, be noted right from the start that an election does not amount to democracy. In other words, the holding of regular multi-party elections is one thing, while institutionalisation and consolidation of democratic governance and ensuring political stability and a peaceful succession of national leadership is quite another. Put somewhat differently, it is quite possible that the SADC region could embrace regular multi-party elections but that democratic practice and culture as well as political stability may lag far behind. This scenario does not augur well for the nurturing and consolidation of the democratic rule and political stability the region needs for socio-economic development.
File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections