Sunday, 10 July 2016

FINDING SOLUTIONS TO ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN AFRICA

FINDING SOLUTIONS TO ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN AFRICA

Author:
Names: Susan Jere
Current Location: Zambia
Citizenship: Zambian

I’m enthusiastic, self-motivated and diligent person and always willing to get involved. Through experience, I have learnt how to set goals, to engage in action oriented behavior. I’m well organized, highly motivated always willing to accept responsibility through my approach to work. My open-minded and sociable personality allows me to relate well with people. I’m Entrepreneurial and politically mind driven.
Academic: Human Resources & Business Management – Diploma; Student- BSc Business Administration.
Previous works: Human Resource Officer Inter- Konkola Copper Mines; Secretary General – FOU.
Current works: Human Resource Manning Advisor – Mopani Copper Mines; Regional Chairperson (Southern Africa Region) – PeaceAids International; Secretary General – African Women Connect
PROSPECT: Founder – Blossoms Orphanage
Motto: A good name is rather to be chosen than riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.Proverbs 22:1

PRESENTATION OUTLINE

1.    Definition- Electoral Violence
2.    Causes
3.    What electoral violence breeds if not addressed
4.    Solutions
5.    Questions And Answers
6.    Contributions
7.    Conclusion

1.   DEFINITION

Electoral violence is any harm or threat of harm to any person or property involved in the election process, or the process itself, during the election period.

Electoral violence in an African election can be seen manifested in various forms as physical assaults, arson (the illegal use of fire to destroy a house, building or property), snatching of ballot boxes and murder. Can Africa boast of a stable democracy for once? One might be quick to ask; what are the factors that might instigate all these electoral violence.

2.   CAUSES

First and foremost, electoral violence in Africa is caused by poverty. Poverty in Africa is very alarming and this gives room for the unemployed majority to be manipulated to perpetuate all forms of electoral violence. Poverty is the state of been extremely poor. It is a situation whereby the individual is not able to meet the basic necessity of life. An individual exposed to these hardships is more likely to engage in electoral violence than a rich person in society. When the economic hardship becomes too unbearable, the propensity for violence increases. “Army of unemployed youth” then becomes a tool for electoral violence. (But should all youths wait until they get a job? Entrepreneurship would be a next presentation topic to consider)
Weak governance and corruption can also instigate electoral violence. Corruption can set the stage for structural violence. Weak governance and corruption make people feel desperate enough to seek any means of revenge against political authority including violence. Small arms proliferation in African countries are on the increase. Possession of arms leads to the perpetuation of violent conflict and the creation of new cycles of violence and crime.
Electoral violence is not been met with strong criminal codes in Africa. Weak penalties or punishment for violators of electoral process also give room for more crimes to be committed. Penalties or punishment are intended to achieve correction, retribution and deterrence. Most countries in Africa lack legislation against perpetrators of certain electoral offences. This poses African election to all forms of crimes and violence.

It could be captured across the streets of Africa that electoral violence is been instigated as a result of the culture of impunity. The ineffectiveness and malfunctioning of the security forces also give people the impetus to stage electoral violence. The ineffectiveness especially on the part of the police service is a major factor which encourages electoral violence. Pre-electoral violence is often associated with killings but the police service always fails to get to the root of those killings. This failure seems to be creating a culture of impunity and motivation for recurrence of crimes and violence in our society.

3.   WHAT DOES ELECTRAL VIOLENCE BREED IF NOT ADDRESSED
Electoral violence is associated with a huge cost. A cost which must be paid by member states and Africa as whole.
Electoral violence leads to political instability. Electoral violence is both the causative and symptomatic in Africa. It is the causative because it feeds the political crises that manifest regularly. Political violence is a threat to building a strong, efficient and visible democratic Africa. It leads to anti-human acts as basic human rights, issues of gender equality; cultural rights and identities are often either ignored or trampled upon. These adversely affect the human security and social development of Africa.
Electoral violence breeds insecurity as it is often characterized by loss of life's and properties. It forms the catalyst for human and property insecurity. Over millions of people are killed; billions of people displaced and properties worth billions have been burnt, looted and destroyed. Where will all these lead us to as a continent? Aside leading to political, social and economic insecurity, there are attendant costs of ensuring security, repairs of damaged infrastructure. These resources could have been put into an alternative use to better human and social development.
It is very pathetic to observe in dismay that development cannot occur in the absence of peace and security due to electoral violence, yet day in and day out, we witness them across the continent. Africa suffers from an atmosphere of insecurity and political instability. Electoral violence drives away prospective foreign investors due to the lack of adequate security for their investments. Private domestic investors will also lose confidence in their respective countries and opt for foreign investment.
Electoral violence leaves so many people across the streets of Africa homeless. No place to lay their head and lack of access to food and portable drinking water.
Electoral violence renders some Africans orphans; some become physically handicapped; hunger and death are the least. At least, this should not be the portion of the black African. There must surely be a change in the trend of our electoral processes as a continent.


4.   SOLUTIONS
What then should be done to avert the actions and inaction of perpetrators causing electoral violence in our region? Africa has been harmed enough through this electoral violence. It is time we as Africans exercise some level of integrity in our electoral process.
Most importantly anti-corruption measures must be adopted. Corruption affects every facet of life in Africa. Measures must be implemented to ensure accountability and transparency. Corrupt public officers must be seen prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others. Governments must intensify their anti-corruption fight.
The problems of poverty, unemployment and underemployment could be addressed by pragmatic steps by governments towards national economic stability.
Then again the security sectors have a major role to play in ensuring law and order in any society. The security sector must be well structured, equipped and motivated enough to play its role in ensuring the consolidation of democracy in Africa.
There is a need for capacity building for the police force and other security agencies in the areas of small arms proliferation to enable effective performance of their duties.
There must be some level of co-operation between the police service and the other security agencies. The electoral body which is the electoral commission (EC) must be well equipped and resourced with both human and physical capital. Electoral officers must be well trained and motivated. The security sector must educate the public on the consequences of violating the electoral laws.
Moreover, there must be some level of electoral reforms and good governance. The underlying problem of political instability in our society is the lack of good governance.
Hence to resolve political violence, accountability, social justice, transparency, rule of law, gender equality and due process must guide governance and leadership in Africa. Electoral reforms must include other things as mass education. There must be some level of education for the citizenry to know who is a registered and considered as an eligible voter under the laws of the land.
When these measures are well instigated, integrated and adhered to, Africa will be freed and void of any electoral violence. 

5.   QUESTIONS (BY MEMBERS) AND ANSWERS (BY FACILITATOR)
Q. Like earlier stated, poverty is a very big contributing factor to electoral violence because politicians tend to manipulate the poor and brainwash them into believing anything they say, they instigate people into acts of violence. Now the question how do you make a brainwashed person see the light because in their own mind they believe they are very right in whatever acts of violence they are perpetuating?
Ans. Problems of poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, unemployment and underemployment could be addressed by pragmatic steps by governments towards national economic stability.
Q. What happens if the government fails in providing pragmatic steps towards economic stability?
Ans. That's where the opposition political partiesroles come in. Government needs opposition political leaders that offer constructive criticism. Opposition political leaders play a very big and important role in government. With an opposition political party offering constructive criticism government may most likely not fail in providing pragmatic steps towards economic stability.
Q. What if we are faced with a situation whereby that current government will resort to any means in staying in power?
Ans: criticism of leaders is often valid. But it ignores an obvious question. Why has Africa produced leaders who try to stay forever and prefer exploiting their societies, to serving them?
Hopefully no one who blames leaders believes there is something inborn about Africans that makes rulers exploit their countries. But what then is the explanation? The water? The climate? And what is the cure? Finding "good leaders"? But where do we find them? And how do we make them leaders? The "bad leaders" explanation doesn’t explain the problem and so does not allow us to find solutions.
To discover what is really happening, we must ask what decides how leaders view their societies. The answer is that this has far less to do with their personalities than with whether they feel they will pay a price for not doing what citizens want. If leaders are to care more about society than themselves, they need to be held to account by citizens. And that means that citizens need to be strong and organized enough to ensure that government does what they want it to do.

6.   CONTRIBUTIONS BY MEMBERS
·         Every voter in one way or the other belongs to a religion. What are those religious bodies preaching on peace and violence? These religious bodies will help prevent the violence. Let's involve them.
·         If leaders go wrong people usually resort to blaming them but what are the citizens doing themselves. I have seen people complain about situations yet I have seen them rise to such position and they intend do worse. The problem yes to part can be connote to the leader the in a way also connote to the people. A people who demand for change first must know that no one person could bring a change except themselves.
·         Integrity, honor, transparency and accountability are the foundations of good governance. And that starts with ourselves in our homes, churches mosques, shrines etc.
·         Let us be the change we want to see. Let us work towards the change we want to see.
·         We must know that a single politician or leader cannot just get up and for example cause violence or spend the tax payer’s money. It's involved a whole chain and the citizens are involved as well. Leaders may be corrupt because you and I as citizens may have not scrutinized their manifestoes or have not done accountability bad honor check on them.
·         It takes a credible government to undertake electoral reforms and good governance. I think that government must set up independent Electoral court where electoral disputes will be handled
·         We can start from ourselves, through holding our selves accountable, transparent, honor and I hope these cab translate to others.
·          Thank you that was quiet an enlightening presentation, now the change we want to see lies within us, it might seem like a difficult task today but together our voice will surely be heard, lets advocate for peace everywhere we are.



7.   CONCLUSION
Thank you very much for your time and contributions fellows. Every day, as a citizen and as a member of PAI, ask yourself what you have done or plan to do to be part of a solution to ending Electoral Violence in Africa which has caused so much harm mentally, physically, economically etc.

Let's start working on the change we want to see in our community, country, and continent. If you 👉 don't work towards the change you want to see you will never see it.
End of Presentation.

Thank you.
WE STAND TO UNITE

LET PEACE BE OUR DREAM