AUDIO FROM SEGMENT OF TALK
A democratic recession is underway across much of Africa. Ironically it coincides with sustained economic growth since 1998. Much of this growth derived from political and economic liberalization in the 1990s, that has accelerated over the past 15 years due to an upsurge in demand for Africa’s natural resources. GDP growth does not mean development, however, and deepening inequality is more easily politicised and militarized along identity lines by elites in an era where across the world the politics of identity is resurgent. Both the war against terror and the rise of the Chinese governance model – authoritarian but efficient and compelling politically and economically – have seen elites consolidate power in fewer hands stalling and/or reversing the democratic developments of the last two decades. This elite capture of democratic processes is not limited to the South and has led to a delegitimisation of traditional political parties and players. Additionally, the securitization of geopolitics that has accompanied the ‘war against terror’ has fed a dramatic upsurge in spending on ‘national security’. National security is the last refuge of the corrupt. Indeed, this securitization has been accompanied not only by an upsurge in graft but the ongoing democratic recession. My presentation asks why and how this has come about. Finally, how can democratic gains be protected, consolidated and expanded.
John Githongo is the CEO of Inuka, a non-governmental organisation involved in governance issues broadly defined, with an emphasis on working with and for ordinary Kenyans – youth in particular. In doing this Inuka is guided by the principles of heshima (respect), diversity (celebrating the depth and wealth of Kenya’s cultural diversity) and Ni Sisi! (It is us!) – for it is Kenyans who own and will ultimately resolve even the most seemingly intractable of their problems. John is also the Chairman of the Africa Institute for Governing with Integrity; Executive Vice Chair of the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA); Chair board member of the Africa Center for Open Governance (AFRICOG); and a Commissioner of the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) of the British government. Previously, he served as Vice President of World Vision, Senior Associate Member, St Antony’s College Oxford; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of Governance and Ethics of the Kenya Government; board member Transparency International, Berlin, CEO Transparency International Kenya and a board member of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. In the past he has been a columnist for the EastAfrican, Associate Editor, Executive magazine; and a correspondent for the Economist. In 2004 the German President awarded him the German-Afrika Prize for Leadership. In 2011 he was selected as one of the world’s 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine and one of the world’s top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. In 2012 he was short-listed, alongside US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton for the prestigious Tipperary International Peace Award.