Evaluating Democratic Consolidation In Ghana. Essay

2629 words - 11 pages

Democratisation was not supposed to happen in Africa - at least concede the majority of political scientists. According to the main theories about the requirements or positive conditions for democracy, most African countries constituted "infertile terrain (Joseph 1999, 238)".Africa simply had too little of what seemed obligatory for constitutional democratic politics. African states were too poor and not sufficiently capitalist, they were not fully infiltrated by western Christianity and lacked the essential civic culture. Compounded to this, African states had originally been drawn up with artificial boundaries, causing them too be excessively ethnically and culturally fragmented. The middle or bourgeois classes were predominantly weak and usually more bureaucratic than entrepreneurial, more often than not, they were also drafted into the authoritarian political structures. Working classes were, for the most part, in the early stages of development. Who would be the social agents of democracy?In 1984, Samuel P. Huntington wrote that "with few exceptions the limits of democratic development may well have been reached (Huntington 1984, 216)," he did not regard any of the African states as exceptions, as "most African countries are by reason of their poverty or the violence of their politics unlikely to move in a democratic direction (Huntington 1984, 218)." Likewise, Robert Dahl did not anticipate "any dramatic changes within the number of polyarchies within a generation or two (Dahl 1971, 208)." It was hence regarded as quite astounding when, by the end of 1992, many African countries returned to competitive party politics.Ghana was the precursor of political change in Sub-Saharan Africa when it won independence in 1957 under the leadership of President Kwame Nkrumah. Nonetheless, while it was the first country in the region to be free of colonial rule, it was also one of the first countries in Africa to experience an extra-legal political change in government when in 1966 the police and armed forces staged a coup d'etat. This coup d'etat ushered in a quarter-century of almost unremitting authoritarian rule.The quarter-century of repressing authoritarian rule, between freedom from colonial rule until Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings' 1981 takeover, was ironic given Ghana's socio-economic position in 1957. At that time, Ghana was commonly recognised as sub-Saharan Africa's wealthiest state. It was endowed with an impressive transportation system, a highly educated labour force, and a British-trained, professional public service bureaucracy (Haynes 1995, 92). Unfortunately much of the optimism at independence was dissolute when Nkrumah's regime soon turned the state to a one-party socialist regime marked by governmental authoritarianism. Nkrumah's Convention People's Party (CPP) government was wracked with economic incompetence and propagated widespread human rights abuses. Its overthrow in 1966 was actually greeted jubilantly by Ghanaians.The Ghanaians were,...

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