Speakers at the DDP Africa Day Public forum, Mr. Sphamandla Mhlongo , DDP Senior Program Officer, Mrs. Lilly Hlophe, DDP Migration Project Manager, Ms. Bonolo Makgale, Center for Human Rights and Ntokozo Mkhize HIV Activist, Youth Living with HIV.
In celebration of Africa Day, on 25 May DDP hosted a public forum focusing on Africa’s trajectory on Development, Democracy, and Human Rights.
The Africa Day Commemoration Forum had Jaime Mighti; Lily Hlope and Bonolo Makgale as the speakers for the event. Primary points of discussion for the event included:
Africa’s challenges in the past decade and a potential path forward;
The projections of findings on issues related to migration push factors and the necessary reforms required to ensure greater social cohesion;
An assessment of the progress of the African Union and AU organs in creating space and opportunity for healthy democratic discourse across the continent, with a view to increasing citizen representation and building a culture of human rights.
In global relations, the stigma of a ‘continent at war with itself’ has long been attached to Africa. Admittedly, the continent has hosted and continues to be home to, several deadly conflicts that jeopardize human, national, and international security and defy efforts to resolve them. This quagmire, as well as other concerns, prompted the AU assembly to take steps to stop the persistent fights and address cases of relapse into violence in some parts of Africa.
While peace and security are indispensable foundations for economic development and an integrated Africa, the existing violence, trans-organised crime and civil wars on the continent affect peace and stability in Africa. Insecurity and political instability are arguably the root causes of underdevelopment in Africa. As it stands there are active armed conflicts in 20 states from 49 Sub-Saharan African countries. Reasons for the surge of armed conflict in Africa have been attributed to conflict dynamics, ethnic tensions, religious tensions, weak states, lack of service delivery, inequality, marginalization, election violence, and corruption. The existing constellation of conflict in Africa is an indisputable fact about the fragility of peace and security in the continent. Civil society continues to face human rights violations and is limited in its ability to hold governments accountable due to severely repressive laws. Democracy is nothing without civil society and democracy is nothing without the protection of human rights. The relationship between democracy and human rights is highly interdependent, intricate, mutually supportive, and symbiotic. The two are mutually constitutive. Democracy cannot be defined without human rights. Human rights can be protected effectively only in a democratic state. A functional democracy that accommodates diversity promotes equality, and protects individual freedoms is the best bet against the concentration of power in the hands of a few and the abuse of human rights that inevitably results from it. In turn, the greatest protection of human rights emanates from a sustainable democratic framework grounded in the rule of law. Thus, civil society is crucial in the consolidation of democracy.
As with all crises, the wave of political instabilities currently confronting Africa offers an opportunity to reflect, review and strategize toward the Africa we want to prevent further disintegration of human rights and democracy on the continent. As citizens become more politically informed and aware, and more willing to use tools of resistance, their tolerance for misgovernance is dwindling and becoming more open to exploitation by political opportunists. As such, there is a need for transformative change, starting with the more equitable and meaningful participation of women and youths in consolidating democratic governance, stability and economic prosperity. National and regional responses to the increasing spate of instability and political upheavals across Africa require more attention that goes beyond existing legal and policy frameworks. It is often said that a parliament is a manifestation of democracy because it represents the voice of the people and reflects the principle that people are the supreme power holders. If this statement holds true, the Pan African Parliament is, therefore, a crucial organ of the AU that seeks to have effective participation of African people in decision-making – particularly within the context of conflict.
DDP would like to thank our delegates for attending and for their contributions. DDP also extends its gratitude to the speakers for their contributions and to our partners for their continued support.
Rise Mzansi KZN Convener, Nonkululeko Hlongwane-Mhlongo, IFP President VF Hlabisa, DDP's Partner Liaison and Development Officer Mbalenhle Mkhize and Executive Director Dr. Paul Kariuki at the DDP Civic Education Conference.