Best governance model is one anchored on realities

Editor, Reference is made to Lonzen Rugira’s article, “Why Rwanda’s governance model succeeds” (The New Times, May 11).
Voters line up during an electoral exercise in Kicukiro District on April 12. (File)
Voters line up during an electoral exercise in Kicukiro District on April 12. (File)

Editor,

Reference is made to Lonzen Rugira’s article, “Why Rwanda’s governance model succeeds” (The New Times, May 11).

For any governance system to succeed, it needs to be deeply rooted in and be anchored on its society’s history, culture, demographic and political realities.

Conversely, almost all governance systems in Africa have failed miserably—though wonderful on paper—because they are completely foreign imports that their authors (whether our foreign colonisers or their local imitators) tried to graft on unwelcoming socio-political realities. Like all half-baked offerings, all they do is to cause serious indigestion.

More than any other key human activity, social organisation and governance do not lend themselves to one-size-fits-all approaches. At the end of the day, though, the ultimate objective should be the same, no matter the governance system: how to ensure efficient and effective management of public affairs to achieve the best possible overall good for the community which is concurrently the most equitable outcome for as many of its individuals as is possible.

Ideally, such systems find the necessary means to closely involve all the members of the community in the decision-making process to ensure they have the highest and most widely diffused buy-in into both the process and the outcome of governance.

Do many Western governance systems satisfy these criteria, even in their countries of origin? The answer is a resounding NO!

Even though the trappings of popular involvement in governance seem to be satisfied by rituals, most significantly represented by regular elections at different levels, the majority of citizens in western countries are so convinced the system is so rigged that their votes have no chance in hell of making a difference as to how and for whose benefit they are governed.

The majority of voters in the west (so-called democracies) are now totally disaffected and disconnected from their political processes, convinced that no matter whoever they elect, the moneyed and well-connected (usually the same), will be served before anybody else. As a result, fewer and fewer citizens of western countries now bother to engage in the ritualistic processes of elections.

In many western countries these days, only around half or even less of eligible voters now go to the polls, including for the most important national level polls.

You then have the interesting situation in which approximately 51 per cent of the 52 per cent of all those who could have voted (i.e. only 26.51%) of eligible voters elect someone president or prime minister of a major country, and then we are told that they won by landslide even though their election was not supported by over 73 per cent of the electorate (those who failed to turn up—48% of eligible voters—and the 49% of those who turned up but did not vote for the elected candidate).

And officials of these thoroughly minority government countries then turn around and try to lecture to the rest of us on governance.

Let them first put some governance order in their own houses, return power to the people from the oligarchs and plutocrats where it now firmly resides, before they start giving lectures on good governance housekeeping.

Mwene Kalinda

ADVERTISEMENT