Is Democracy a ‘Shared Value’ that Unites Africa?
"The values that are espoused and embraced in numerous AU documents are mostly not reflected in the actions of the AU and many of its member states. These failings and failures of the AU need to be addressed, and it is clear that the system needs an overhaul. There are many suggestions as to how the AU could be reformed, but this is not the purpose of this brief. The purpose is to highlight the inability and/or reluctance of the AU to implement its own values and ideals and to protect democracy in Africa. Perhaps this is based upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of democracy. Democracy cannot merely be understood as the holding of regular elections. The ballot box is ineffective if those that cast their votes are not free – from oppression, from war, from poverty, from an authoritarian state. A radical politics of democracy goes further, in that democracy is interpreted as a continuous struggle for freedom and equality. This understanding of democracy places the will of the people at the centre of the democratic project, and shifts emphasis from state sovereignty to the sovereignty of the people. It is also aimed at preventing complacency, as freedom is understood to be fragile and a right that should be jealously protected."