This week’s meeting of African democracy advocates in Pretoria ended on a high when South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma signed the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance.
Only four states – Mauritania, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Burkina-Faso – have ratified since it was adopted by the African Union in January 2007.
The Charter calls upon African governments to embrace credible elections, constitutional rule and democracy; to enhance responsive and participatory citizenship through freedom of expression and information; to promote gender equality and inclusion of marginalized groups; and develop dialogues for conflict prevention and resolution.
Delegates to the meeting, convened by Idasa and the African Democracy Forum, called on promoters of democracy, human rights and good governance in Africa to “actively support the realization of this collective commitment”
But Zuma has come under fire from some quarters for welcoming the growing influence of authoritarian China across sub-Saharan Africa.
“China is coming as an equal partner saying, ‘let us do business’”, he said. “If the old countries [former colonial powers] did not develop the countries in Africa, but China comes to Africa and it is ready to build roads, bridges, everything, what must they [the African countries] do?”