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[Dehai-WN] Eurasiareview.com: Building Peace And Stability In Eastern Africa

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2012 15:20:52 +0200

Building Peace And Stability In Eastern Africa - OpEd

Written by: <http://www.eurasiareview.com/author/transconflict/>

April 21, 2012

With contemporary wars in Eastern Africa largely driven by economic motives
and agendas which thrive under poor governance, countries need to believe in
- and practice - good and democratic governance in order to ensure peace and

By Wamala Twaibu

The nexus between good governance, peace and stability is important to
understand both in theory and practice. Since theory guides practice and
practice shapes theory, policy makers and practitioners must of necessity
study the relationship between the above concepts and practices, and live
the ideals of good governance if Africa as whole is to enjoy peace,
stability and development. Contemporary African societies have shown the
emergence of new forms of violent conflicts that undermine the security,
peace and stability of the continent. There is a belief that a new phase of
globalization and bad governance has contributed to new forms of violent
conflict, in which economic agendas dominate the civil wars being fought on
the continent.

Governance issues in Africa are centred on the struggle for access to
resources. At the national level, various groups - political and military -
want to maintain power, regain it or capture it. Such groups believe or
claim that they have better capacities to establish and practice democratic
ideals - including the control of the production process and distribution of
scarce resources. The state in Africa has been a contested terrain,
resulting in a lack of legitimacy in the recent past and a reliance on
coercive instruments - such as the military and special police - to impose
stability and "loyalty".

In contemporary Africa, rebellion have arisen and escalated because rebels
aspire to wealth by capturing resources extra-legally. In Liberia, Charles
Taylor is estimated to have made more than $400m per year from war between
1992 and 1996. In the on-going conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
neighboring countries - particularly Rwanda and Uganda, including
individuals and private companies - have become major exporters of raw
materials, including gold and cobalt. In Angola, meanwhile, the National
Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) controlled some 70% of
diamond production in the mid-nineties; allowing it to continue the war,
whilst creating the conditions for local traders and regional commanders to
accumulate considerable fortunes.

There are a number of reasons why governance deficits and internal conflicts
have rocked states in Eastern Africa, including:

* The struggle to capture the state as a means of accessing scarce
resources. Although such an objective never appears in the documents of the
competing groups, it remains a reality. Any social scientist knows the
centrality of scarcity and maximization of resources. The history of some
states in the region shows that access to power has been mainly through
violent means;
* Marginalization dating back to the colonial period. The uneven
development created by colonial policies left some parts of countries at a
disadvantage. Different groups therefore struggle to capture the state as a
means of addressing what they perceive as perpetual marginalization;
* The struggle for arable land and pasture given increasing population
growth has inevitably caused violent conflicts. During the consultations of
the fast-tracking of the East African Federation, the fear of loss of land
emerged on the top from all the Eastern African countries;
* Lack of democratic practices and the absence of viable political
institutions for the greater part of the post-colonial era, which undermines
good governance. As a result some people have always felt a lack of access
to influence, decision-making processes and political power. Eastern
Africans are yet to appreciate that political democracy is characteried by
the existence of competition, participation and respect for civil liberties;
* Ethnicity. There is a tendency for people - in light of the
frustrations created by poor governance - to retreat to ethnic groups as a
base for agitation, mobilization, organization and security. There are
experiences that demonstrate an increase in ethnic discourse to articulate
political interests. Ethnic discourse where it has been invoked depicts
ethnic conflict. The argumentation scheme in ethnic discourse is one that
explicates positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation.
Ethnic discourse decries, discredits, debases, degrades and defames members
of the competing out-groups;
* Lack of protection from others who are armed and threatening,
including other civilians, police, militias and armed forces. The so-called
'Cattle Rustling' - which in fact is a now a confirmed primitive
accumulation of capital - cannot effectively be handled by one state because
of the across-the-border dimension

Looking ahead - policy recommendations

There is a clear link between governance failures, economic motives and
agendas, and new forms of violence and war in Eastern Africa. As such,
Eastern African states need to engage in:

* Security Sector Reform/Transformation (SSR/T) in order to provide a
secure environment for sustainable integration, peace, stability and
development. Defense and police reforms that started in the region should be
encouraged and supported, and ultimately extended to intelligence agencies
and other security sector institutions;
* Preventive diplomacy, peace-making, peace-keeping and
peace-building. Eastern Africa must strike a balance between security needs
and social programmes. While the community should create a sound military
capability to avoid a resurgence of insecurity from violent conflicts, it
must also invest in improving the capacity to resolve conflict nonviolently,
including conflict management training and direct inter-group peace making,
sometimes using traditional indigenous processes and well-tested mechanisms;
* Thorough debate on ends, means and ways (i.e. strategy) by
decision-makers and implementers. In simple terms, strategy is the
calculated relationship among ends ways, and means - What do we want to
pursue (ends)? With what means will we pursue them? And how (ways) will we
pursue them?;
* Research and publication of policy papers targeting key actors in
the governance sectors. Quite often academics publish materials in a
language that is to complex for the policy makers and implementers. The
Eastern African Community Secretariat should consider having policy-tailored
publications to guide policy formulation and implementation in all areas of
governance and development;
* Dissemination workshops targeting key policy makers and
implementers. This method creates awareness and mobilizes allies in the
state and civil society organizations (CSOs) for both implementation and
monitoring of good governance programmes;
* Networking - the East African Community, through the Secretariat,
should have a deliberate programme with attendant resources to facilitate
networking with other organisations that specialize in research on
governance or/and those with experience of implementing successful
governance activities.

Governance failures breed new forms of violence and war. At the centre of
these deficiencies and outcomes are the economic motives and agendas
underpinning them. This is not to claim that all violent conflicts can be
reduced to economic explanations, but rather to underline the fact that
contemporary wars on the continent are largely driven by economic motives
and agendas which thrive under poor governance. It is important therefore to
believe in - and practice - good and democratic governance. Good governance
reduces the occurrence of violent conflicts; ensuring the peace and
stability of states and their integration into viable regional structures.

Wamala Twaibu is the executive director of the
/uganda-harm-reduction-network/> Uganda Harm Reduction Network, a member of
the Global Coalition for Conflict Transformation.


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