African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) Press release

Source: 1 February 2018Elections, Human Rights

Background

The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) was created by the African Union (AU) in 2007 as a roadmap to encourage better governance across the continent. It sets out international standards of good governance and democracy in such areas as rule of law, free and fair elections, and condemning unconstitutional changes of government.

Some countries are using the charter as a guide during difficult transitions. Mauritania, for example, relied on its principles to negotiate a return to constitutional order after a 2008 coup. But other countries have had difficulty following it. West Africa, which represents more than half of the 20 countries whose legislatures have formally adopted — or ratified — the charter, has been the venue for 10 out of the 14 attempts to disrupt constitutional and democratic governments, such as in Mali and Guinea Bissau, since the charter was created.
Countries that ratify the charter agree to:

  • Have representative systems of government with separation of powers between branches
  • Promote democracy, rule of law and basic human rights
  • Ensure democratic rule and constitutional changes of power through free, fair and transparent elections
  • Respect ethnic, cultural and religious diversity

Activista Zimbabwe and its partners seek to build the skills and knowledge of citizens to be able to advocate for free, fair and credible elections as outlined in the African Charter on Governance and Elections (ACDEG). The aim is to empower young people with skills, knowledge and attitude to mobilize to demand the implementation of ACDEG as agreed upon by African governments in January 2007.

Press release 31/01/2018

With the recent youth bulge in Africa and the rest of the world, young people under the age of 35 in Zimbabwe consist of 77% of the population. Clearly if there are any international, regional and even national policies that improve people’s lives they apply more to young people than anyone else. Hence, the relevance of frameworks such as, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, to youth in Zimbabwe is undisputed. As a network of youth activists in Zimbabwe (Activista Zimbabwe) we stand in solidarity with the African Governance Architecture, realizing that there is a rising need to promote the effective participation of Africa’s youths in democratic governance initiatives especially with a focus on democracy, elections, human rights and governance in Africa. Though the number of youth participating in electoral processes through registering to vote and running for office is increasing, frameworks that make it possible for effectiveness and full engagement, such as the ACDEG, are still alien to the young people and unfortunately alien to our policy makers as well.

Zimbabwe is one of the 16 African States which has not yet signed on or ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and considering that we have a history of electoral corruption, a lack of electoral integrity and ceaseless pursuit of democratic institutions, this clearly says a lot about the extent of legal action that we are willing to take to promote democracy as a nation.

Now the ACDEG speaks a lot on youth participation in governance as a means to accelerate and catalyse the rapid transformation envisaged by the Agenda 2063 of the African Union. The charter speaks to a culture of democracy and peace, it speaks about sanctions in cases of unconstitutional changes of government, and above all it speaks about the political, economic and social governance which is key to youth leadership and sustainable development. Considering the current political dispensation in Zimbabwe this charter lays a foundation for that second chance and a shot at democracy backed by legal action and mechanisms for application. As young people across Zimbabwe we should start demonstrating curiosity towards the understanding of the continental definition of democratic processes and confidently demand the domestication of this and other regional policy frameworks.

We call upon all stakeholders of human security and development as is outlined in section 44 of the charter, not only to understand, but to commit and ensure the implementation of the principles, objectives and core values enshrined in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. We urge the civil society at large to take into consideration the sustainability of their efforts and pursue the interests of this charter and We call upon the government to sign, ratify, enforce and report on the implementation of the charter.

Thando Gwinji
Activista Zimbabwe
(National Coordinator)
For more information contact activistazim@gmail.com