African nations should be allowed to develop their home-grown governance systems instead of adopting the Western-style democracy that has not yielded positive results over the years, said scholars, government representatives and diplomats as they were attending a democracy symposium here on Friday.
Opening the symposium themed “Dissecting Western Democracy in Africa”, Okello Oryem, Uganda’s minister of state in charge of international affairs, said African people should be allowed to determine a democratic system that works best for them.
“The one-size-fits-all model of democracy cannot deliver the aspirations of the people and it’s important that democratic assessment be made based on the unique and peculiar conditions and circumstances” of each country, the minister said at the half-day event.
“There is a need to respect national sovereignty and territorial integrity of each nation. The big and powerful nations should not prescribe, impose and super-impose their systems and values that may not be tailored to local circumstances,” he added, noting that there is a need for democratic adaptations based on what serves well the people.
Alemtsehay Meseret, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Uganda, said that just as Africa fought for independence, it should fight neo-colonialism.
“We should provide solutions to our own problems. As Africans, we fought for our independence, we shall say no to neo-colonialism,” Meseret said.
David Mafabi, senior presidential adviser to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, said that no other countries can determine African countries’ governance systems.
“It is not for any nation or country to tell us what to do and what not to do. It is not for them to determine how we govern ourselves. We have laws, they may be flawed but we don’t have impunity,” Mafabi said.
African nations need to realize that they can only defeat foreign intervention when united, and as long as Africa remains balkanized, it will be difficult to fend off interference by foreign powers, Mafabi said.
“As balkanized states, we cannot be able to move, we have to integrate. Integration is a strategic imperative,” he said.
The international system also needs to be democratized so that Africans can have an equal say in the international arena, he said, stressing the need to build a new multilateralism that favors all people equally. Xinhua