John Githongo delivers his talk, "Africa (Up)Rising: Confronting the New Authoritarianism," to a large audience at Stanford University. 5 Feb. 2015.
John Githongo speaks for CDDRL's Research Seminar Series on April 2, 2015, remarking on Nigeria's triumph of democracy - a relatively peaceful transition of power - and Kenya's recent school shooting tragedy.
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.