Articulating the Right to Democratic Governance in Africa

This Article articulates the right to democratic governance in Africa, arguing that democratic entitlement ought to acquire, if indeed it already has not acquired, a degree of legitimacy in the continent. If democratic governance is a fundamental human right, which this Article asserts it is, it follows that any African State that denies its citizens the right to any of the elements of democratic entitlement-such as free and open elections-is violating a fundamental right, which should attract responsibility. The Article begins with an examination of the patrimonial State structure in Africa and its negative impact on governance. It is a chronicle of wasted years. It goes on to discuss the unsettled question of democratic entitlement in modern international law but asserts the existence of such a right. It examines the normative framework of democratic governance in Africa, including United Nations-inspired human rights instruments to which African States are parties. How far have the African intergovernmental organizations, in particular the African Union (AU) (formerly the Organization of African Unity (OAU)) encouraged transitions to democracy? This Article answers this question by examining the various regional instruments and action plans relating to democratic governance in Africa. It also considers the superstructures that the AU should erect on the infrastructures of democratic governance in order to create beautiful democratic edifices in Africa, capable of shielding Africans from the monstrosities and buffooneries of power.