Democracy or The-More-Crazy?

Will democracy in Africa become a fleeting memory or it will continually be our way of living? Not sure, what do you TINK?

African woman.jpg

The last thirteen years have been a story declining freedom and it’s really disheartening. The most recent event being the coup d'état experienced in Sudan. Although this trend is not limited to Africa as we have seen unsettling events occur in other countries like Venezuela, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Serbia, Hungary, and so on. For the purpose of this article, I will limit concern to Africa alone.

These unsettling events are largely political and are the root cause of the civil wars experienced thus far. In a recent report released by Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2019 shows the state of many African countries today as they have journeyed from Free to partly free to not free.

Source: Freedom House

Source: Freedom House

In Uganda status declined from Partly Free to Not Free due to attempts by long-ruling president Yoweri Museveni’s government to restrict free expression, including through surveillance of electronic communications and a regressive tax on social media use.

In Zimbabwe status improved from Not Free to Partly Free because the 2018 presidential election, though deeply flawed, granted a degree of legitimacy to the rule of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had taken power after the military forced his predecessor’s resignation in 2017

In Angola, new president João Lourenço took notable actions against corruption and impunity, reducing the out sized influence of his long-ruling predecessor’s family and granting the courts greater independence.

In Ethiopia, the monopolistic ruling party began to loosen its grip in response to three years of protests, installing a reform-minded prime minister who oversaw the lifting of a state of emergency, the release of political prisoners, and the creation of space for more public discussion of political issues.

More often than not, political opposition in countries across the continent has met a different fate as governments have used a variety of tactics to restrict freedoms and dissent. These include shutting down the internet (Cameroon, Zimbabwe), imposing social media taxes (Uganda), and imposing blogger licenses (Tanzania). Governments have also resorted to outright violence in Burundi, Senegal, Togo, and Zambia.

Source: Bizcommunity

Source: Bizcommunity

Freedom House’s 2019 Freedom in the World Report further suggests that political liberalization in countries like Ethiopia and The Gambia belies “creeping restrictions” and a general trend toward authoritarian behavior.

This trend is confirmed in the most recent survey conducted by Afrobarometer, an independent African research network. It was conducted between late 2016 and late 2018 in 34 countries. On average across all the countries surveyed, citizens appeared to confirm that civic and political space was closing. Many also expressed a willingness to accept restrictions on their liberties in the name of security.

In a bid to secure we take steps that restrict and encage people, this is everything democracy is not. Owing to this rising trend, what would our beloved Africa be like tomorrow?

No Social Media till You Pay Tax –Hilarious Right?

AFRICA IS STILL TRYING TO SEE THE SUN YET A FEW MEN SOMEWHERE ARE TRYING TO BLOT OUT THE RAYS SHE SEES BY IMPOSING LEVIES AND TAX ON SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE.

Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

Wait before I start this article, let me enter my Patience Ozokwor moment (takes off head gear and ties it around waist). Wonders shall never end in this continent; imagine waking up to use your favourite social media apps only to find out that YOU CAN’T VIEW YOUR OWN TIMELINE just because somebody somewhere has imposed some kind of levy on social media usage.

You think this is far-fetched right? It means in your country you have it good.

Recently in Benin republic, the government cancelled a decree known as "over-the-top" platforms, which imposed a tax on users of platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. The initial decree saw Local and international activists protest against the decree as they believed it was an outright attack on the freedom of expression. They delivered media content directly to users without using traditional telecommunications infrastructure such as terrestrial broadcast or satellite signals.

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

Also in countries like Uganda and Tanzania we saw similar developments. In July this year Uganda imposed a tax on social media platforms. Ugandans average monthly cash income for is a little over USD$100 (36,000 Naira) yet tax was imposed on them to use the medium. Tanzania passed a law on online content creators which forces bloggers to pay up to USD$900 (324,000 Naira) for a three year license. In Zambia, the government introduced a levy on internet calls for WhatsApp, Skype and Viber and it also plans to introduce a cybersecurity and cybercrimes law. Kenya passed the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Bill last year to police social media activity. In Nigeria, there was speculation that the minister of information was pushing for an imposition of restrictions on the usage of social media.

Source: Unspalsh

Source: Unspalsh

This trend is being spurred by the unprecedented effectiveness of social media in disseminating information, exploiting vulnerabilities and its history in starting socio-political movements. I agree that a lot of people especially in places of political power have some insecurities but if you are going to stop me from saying a hi or hello to some young lady I’ve been crushing on, then don’t use levies or tax, be more creative please.

However, if this trend is left unchecked, a few men somewhere will lock Africa away from the world and further stifle the slow progress we are beginning to experience.

What do you TINK? Leave your thought in the comment section below.

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels