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The challenges of fostering harmony amongst stock markets in the Central African region, by Asanji Burnley N and Chofor Che


The African securities market has witnessed serious development since the early 1990s, but the central African region has not benefited from this evolution. According to an article dated the 2 of April 2015 byThis Day Live, prior to 1989, there were just eight stock markets in Africa of which three were in North Africa and five in sub-Saharan Africa. Today, there are over 22 stock exchanges in Africa. Alongside the rapid expansion of stock markets on the continent, there has also been a significant growth in market capitalization and the number of listed companies.  At present, over 50 per cent of the 54 countries in the continent have formed securities exchanges.

In an effort to promote regional cooperation, individual African securities exchanges created an African Securities Exchange Association (ASEA) in 1993. The ASEA was incorporated in Kenya in the same year. Recently, there have been calls by interest groups for business combination of West African stock exchanges in other to foster unity and a wider securities market to ensure speedy development of the region in line with the ASEA objectives. Why has the Central African region not followed the example of West Africa? Is it a problem of lack of adequate constitutional and legislative parameters in the region? Is it a problem of lack of political will? Is it lack of personnel and institutions? If so what can be done to change the status quo for harmony and unity in the stock exchange market in the Central African region and in Africa at large?

Issues like the rule of law, property rights, protection of investor’s rights are fundamental to the constitutional and legislative environment governing Africa’s stock markets. According to the Doing Business Reports for 2013 and 2014, states in the Central African region like Chad and Cameroon still lag behind with respect to the above mentioned indicators, reason why this part of the continent lags behind when it comes to fostering unity and a wider securities market to ensure speedy development of the region in line with the ASEA objectives.

Lack of political will remains a canker worm in the African stock market environment. Many politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists still prefer to make African stock markets weak because of selfish economic gains, especially making sure that their businesses are financed to the detriment of other growing businesses as argued by Sam Mensah and Todd Mos in a past article on African Capital Markets.  These lobbyists also influence the activities of stock markets so that they can control government shares in privitised companies.

Institutions like Central Banks and government ministries of finance called upon to coordinate affairs of the stock exchange markets in Africa remain wanting. These institutions still find difficulties in understanding and participating in the activities of Africa’s stock markets.

Cultural factors also contribute enormously to the Central African regions slow progress in the stock exchange sector.  A lot of preference is still given to hand to mouth consumption.  Consumers and investors remain reticent to invest in stock markets because of the risks involved. Another factor which contributes to the poor stock exchange market environment especially in the Central African region include ignorance on how the system functions and non-familiarization with the financial markets culture.

There is thus need for a change of events. Giving constitutional and legislative importance to property rights in the Central African region would make owners of property to be confident enough to engage in activities of stock markets especially in obtaining financing for their property. Additionally if investor’s rights are protected constitutionally and with sound legislative instruments, this will equally make them trust stock markets and eventually contribute to fostering unity and harmony in stock markets in the Central African region and in Africa.

Bureaucrats, politicians and lobbyists would definitely not stop influencing the activities of stock markets if there is no external push. It is this important for think tanks, journalists, university dons to continue to put pressure on them to allow the stock exchange sector function free from political influence and pressure.

Revamping Institutions like Ministries of Finance and Central banks called upon to coordinate affairs of the stock exchange markets in Africa is very important. Personnel working with financial Institutions in the Central African region need to be schooled about the activities of stock markets especially in Africa.

Respecting Africa’s cultural values is germane, but if such cultural practices impede on the development of the continent then we cannot continue to talk of Africa’s renaissance. States like Gabon and Equatorial Guinea most understand that collaboration with other states like Cameroon and Chad is necessary for unity and growth in the stock exchange sector regardless of whatever cultural differences.

This article is originally published in French at LibreAfrique.org as ‘A quand l’intégration financière en Afrique centrale?’ http://www.libreafrique.org/Asanji-Burnley-Chofor-Che-marches-financiers-240415

Asanji Burnley is a diplomat by training from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC). He is President and co-founder of the Cameroon based Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA), a partner of the Atlas Network.

Chofor Che is an analyst with Libre Afrique.org, Audace Institute Afrique and AfricaLiberty.org. He is also co-founder and current Chair of Research at the Cameroon based Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA). He blogs at choforche.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The future of e commerce in Africa, by Chofor Che


On the 24th of May to the 5th of June 2015, Tunisia will be hosting a conference on the importance of the internet, especially in doing business in Africa. It happens that Africa especially states in the Central African region have not adequately taken advantage of opportunities offered to them by the internet especially in e commerce and doing business online. Why is Africa still lagging behind in the e commerce sector? Is it a problem of inadequacy of legislation governing the sector? Is it a problem of inadequate infrastructure? Is it a problem of the actors involved in the sector?

A report was aired over the TV channel, Africa 24 on the 6th of March 2015 during which the Director of the group named World Wide Worx attested that poor infrastructure remains a disturbing factor contributing to the continent’s lagging behind in the e commerce sector. According to Director General of Jumia, Nigeria, Fatoumatou Bah of Sengal, distribution of internet devices remains low, thus those in need of the services which will make them partake actively in e commerce do not have access to these facilities. According to Fatoumatou, there is just 40 percent penetration access to internet in Kenya. In the whole of Africa the penetration is just 7 percent.

Government bureaucracy has equally led a lot of corruption in the e commerce sector. Most African states do not have adequate constitutional and legislative protection for investors and consumers in the e commerce sector. With such a scenario it is difficult to guarantee investors that their interests will be protected. In this same regard in an eventuality of conflict of interest between investors and consumers in the e commerce sector, there remain inadequate protective and preventive measures for both parties.

African states have not done enough to bring on board private actors into the sector. Apart from states like South Africa that give private actors the importance they deserve as equal investors and partners in e commerce, private actors in other states are considered more as secondary and tertiary actors while big governments remain the primary actors in the sector.

Cyber criminality remains a great cankerworm in the e commerce sector. Scammers keep on developing sophisticated methods to hack into accounts and online transactions. The continent is still to boast of adequate experts who can assist states in curbing the ills of cyber criminality, thus furnishing safety nets for online transactions especially the use of credit cards for effecting payments.

There equally remains the problem of accessing concrete information on the portfolio of online business persons. This puts consumers in a fix especially as transparency remains an issue. With such loop holes, e commerce will remain timid on the continent.

African states need to therefore do more to bring on board private actors into the e commerce sector. There is no gain saying that states in the Central African Region like Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic and Gabon lag behind in encouraging state and private sector partnerships in the e commerce sector. This position is corroborated by the World Bank’s Doing Business Report of 2014. States especially in the Central African region like Cameroon, Chad and Gabon thus need to give more importance to private actors as primary actors and not secondary and tertiary actors as is the case. Additionally, there is equally the need to curb government bureaucracy which would definitely curb corruption in the e commerce sector.

Most African states need to also have adequate legislation with respect to the e commerce sector. State constitutions in Africa as well as legislation need to be clear on protective measures for consumers and investors in the e commerce sector. With such constitutional and legislative protection the interests of both consumers and investors will be guaranteed. Constitutional and legislative protections will also go a long way to solve issues evolving around conflict of interest between investors and consumers in the e commerce sector.

African states need to give more attention to training experts in cyber criminality. Apart from having a pool of experts in cyber criminality it is equally important to train forces of law and order, administrative officers, magistrates and lawyers on cyber criminality. The availability of experts in cyber criminality will go a long way to assist states in curbing the ills of cyber criminality, thus furnishing safety nets for online transactions especially the use of credit cards for effecting payments.

The state needs to equally partner with the private sector to verify online information of both investors and consumers in the e commerce sector. This will go a long way to strengthen transparency in the e commerce sector.

Chofor Che is an integral part of the Africanliberty’s Voice of Liberty initiative. He is also an analyst at LibreAfrique.org and Audace Institute Afrique . This article was originally published at LibreAfrique.org on 27 March 2015. He is also blogs at https://choforche.wordpress.com/

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Africa Development

 

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Challenges of a creation of an African Court of Justice and Human Rights, by Chofor Che, originally published in French at LibreAfrique.org, 2 March 2015


The African Union (AU) in an early 2015 historical summit with minsters of AU countries reechoed the desire for the creation of an African Court of Justice and Human Rights (African Court of Justice). This was after a lot of contestation with respect to the bias role the International Criminal Court (ICC) has played in judging Africans leaders especially. According to a report by Voice of Nigeria dated February, 03, 2015, during the above mentioned AU summit in Addis Ababa, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who was one of the first Head of State to sign the Malabo protocol establishing the new African Court of Justice, was of the view that the proposed African Court of Justice was here to stay and announced that Kenya was going to contribute 1 million U.S. dollars for the African Court of Justice to go operational. The creation of the African Court of Justice brings to mind several concerns. Now that Africa is composed of several states with varying judicial practices, what legal system will the African Court of Justice opt for in her judgments? How are the judges for this court going to be selected and will these judges be independent and impartial from the whims and caprices especially of African Head of States? Are all member states going to support the running of this court financially or will the court depend on foreign aid as several regional bodies on the continent?

11 African states including Kenya have already signed the protocol on the creation of the African Court of Justice to look into criminal cases referred to the ICC. This revelation was made known to Voice of Nigeria during an interview in Nairobi by Nigerian Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Amina Mohamed. In actual fact, 14 states are supposed to sign the above mentioned protocol for the African Court of Justice to go operational. Kenya has sworn to lobby more African states to sign this protocol on the creation of the African Court of Justice. According to the above mentioned report by Voice of Nigeria, Kenyan President purports that the establishment of the African Court of Justice will put in place a wider African transitional justice police framework.

There is no gainsaying that the African Court of Justice will have to grapple with the application of justice which flows from several legal systems especially civil law and common law. Africa is composed of states with varying legal systems when it comes to justice especially in adjudicating over crimes against humanity.

Experience has shown that the judiciary in Africa is still not adequately independent. Judges are still appointed by Head of States. Even at the regional level judges especially at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights are endorsed by their Head of States. This in actual fact remains an aberration to the independence and Impartiality of decisions on the continent and obviously with respect to the envisaged African Court of Justice. Some analysts argue that the African Court of Justice may be a medium for the impunity of African Head of States and statesmen. These analysts also argue that because of the inadequate independence and impartiality of judges at the African Court of Justice, African leaders will continue to unconstitutionally modify state Constitutions so as to remain in power.

The continent already boasts of an African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The continent also boasts of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights amongst several regional judicial institutions. There is a tendency that the creation of the African Court of Justice will emanate to the duplicity of tasks with respect to judging crimes against humanity.

African leaders have not been able to adequately finance the AU and her institutions. The AU for instance depends greatly on foreign aid which makes the operation of affairs of this institution dependent on the West. Although Kenya has pledged to finance the African Court of Justice with 1 million US$, this institution will in the long run also depend on foreign assistance just like the AU. Decisions of this judicial body will thus be wanting.
There is equally a tendency for the continent to be isolated in an époque of globalisation. The creation of the African Court of Justice should not be a leeway for the continent not to partake in world affairs especially doing business with the West.

If African Head of States want just a Court of Justice which mirrors domestic courts which are currently mired with inadequate independence and impartiality, then this new judicial institution would just be a way of escaping from international justice and will defeat the purpose of its creation. The African Court of Justice needs to be adequately independent and impartial. This judicial institution needs to be financially independent. This judicial institution needs to also be able to judge African Head of States without fear or favour especially those who continue to unconstitutionally manipulate state constitutions.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in African Union

 

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The African Union’s illusory quest for financial independence by Asanji Burnley and Chofor Che, published at Africanliberty.org , 15 February 2015


In an op-ed by Gulfnews.com dated the 1 of February 2015, African leaders teamed up in Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia in a bid to seek for solutions for an independent African Union (AU). After a two-day summit which took place at the AU’s headquarters ironically built by the Chinese, African leaders proposed new taxes on hotel stays and airline tickets in a bid to finance the AU. Analysts estimate that this move would raise about $730 million dollars a year. AU officials are also optimistic that an additional half-a-cent tax on SMS exchanges would bring in $1.6 billion. They are hoping to see the AU finance its projects and operations to the tune of 65 per cent by 2016. The AU has for long now depended on financial assistance from the West to accomplish missions on the continent, reason why this international body has been faced with a lot of criticisms. Though it is imperative for the AU to be financially independent, one begins to wonder if the right move to financial independence is by imposing heavy taxes on improvised African citizens.

Gulfnews.com opines that the AU was once seriously financed by assassinated Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was bent in making this institution an opponent to Western dominance. Presently, the AU which is made up of 54 member states gets only 28 per cent of its half-billion dollar operational budget from these members. 72 per cent of the AU’s operational budget is obtained from international donors especially from the European Union (EU), the World Bank, China, Turkey and the United States of America (USA).

Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, notorious for his ‘tug of war’ with the West, and who is currently the AU’s chair observed that “Over 70 per cent of our budget is foreign funded. This is not sustainable,” This position was corroborated by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has also been involved in a brawl with the West after being charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. President Uhuru Kenyatta added that dependence on foreign financing was a “profound handicap and an impediment to the continent’s momentum”. According to Kenyan President, it is time for Africa to affirm “its independence and sovereignty more robustly”.

AU analysts argue that a financially viable AU would make this institution administratively and financially dependent. Major donors like Egypt and Libya would not have to chip in huge amounts of money for the running of AU projects and operations. Pan-African Youth Union (PYU) leader adds that the AU would thus be in a better position to make strategic and speedy decisions. He adds that “In case of emergencies like Ebola, we need to have the means to intervene quickly and without having to wait for foreign money. Money from donors always comes with strings attached.”

It is thus a laudable idea for African leaders to make the AU financially independent, but the truth is that such a plan remains an illusion for several reasons. Although African leaders have agreed to this ambitious plan, deducting these taxes is not a matter of right but voluntary. What most member states would do is to impose heavy taxes on visitors and citizens. Besides this worry not all member states will adhere to this new measure. For several years now several African states have not been able to furnish financial nor material support to the running and functioning of the AU reason why this institution has shamefully depended on foreign assistance.
Member states must seek for a holistic approach to making the AU financially viable. Charity begins at home so African states must speed up their industrialization process and infrastructure development to attract more businesses and thus more money. The private sector needs to be revamped in all African states which may would also reduce unemployment and boost African economies speedily. African states cannot continue to neglect the agricultural sector and focus more on the mineral sectors.

African governments have to also stop illicit financial flows which is really crippling African economies, despite the much talked about African renaissance. The money the continent loses can indeed make the AU financially independent rather than relying on foreign assistance and taxes.

Asanji Burnley is a Cameroonian diplomat by training and Masters Graduate from the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC). He is also co-founder of the Cameroon based Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACLiTA). In 2015 he was unanimously voted as President of this newly created think tank which advocates for limited government and free markets particularly in the central African region.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Africa Development, African Union

 

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The need for institutional and political means to estop the precarious tampering with Constitutions of African states, by Chofor Che


The revision or modification of state constitutions is important especially if of utmost necessity to the betterment of the state, but there has been a precarious tampering of the fundamental provisions of constitutions in Africa. The case of Burkina Faso which has been plunged into political turmoil, to the recent case of Togo, are glaring examples. Interestingly, constitutional provisions related to the term of office of Heads of state have been modified so as to extend the term of office of these leaders in power. Is it that there are no legal and institutional measures in place to prevent these leaders and their regimes from manipulating fundamental provisions of state constitutions? Are there no political parameters that can be put in place so as to prevent these leaders from manipulating fundamental provisions of state constitutions?

In most African State Constitutions like the Constitutions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, the provision on the mandate of Heads of State is easily modified. There are to provisions in these State Constitutions which prevent the manipulation of important provisions like the mandate of Head of States.

South Africa and Botswana have put in place Constitutional Courts which ensure that the separation of powers is upheld. For instance in South Africa, it is difficult for the executive arm of government to revise fundamental provisions of the 1994 Constitution. Other states like Togo and Burkina Faso put in place Constitutional Councils which have proven to be inefficient in preventing the manipulation of State Constitutions.

The balance of power amongst the executive, the legislature and the judiciary branches of government in African states, remain imbalance. The executive branch of government remains the most powerful. Judges of courts are still appointed by Heads of State and so pay allegiance to the head of this branch of government. With such a status quo, Heads of State will continue to manipulate fundamental provisions of State Constitutions so as to remain in power.

A weak opposition is also a major reason why leaders in Africa continue to manipulate state constitutions. According to an article dated the 18 of November 2014 by ‘Oeil d’Afrique’, political leaders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi, Gabon, Senegal and Equatorial Guinea met in Paris and signed a declaration with aim to halt African Heads of State from modifying fundamental provisions of State Constitutions like terms of office in power. There is no gainsaying that holding such meetings and signing declarations is not a panacea to the status quo. Leaders of opposition parties in most African states have not been able to come to a consensus and select one candidate, during presidential elections.

African states cannot boast of a well-structured and institutional civil society which can be able to estop leaders from modifying fundamental provisions of State constitutions. According to a November 2014 report by France 24, civil society groups planned to join leaders of opposition parties in preventing the President of the Republic of Togo, Faure Gnassingbȇ, from manipulating fundamental provisions of the Constitution of Togo. This action was unsuccessful because civil society groups still do not have one voice as to why fundamental provisions like the term of office of the Head of State should not be modified.

The press in African State is still weak. Many African States like the Gambia cannot boast of an adequately independent press. Many journalists have been arrested and died in African prisons for opinions against the modification of fundamental provisions of State Constitutions.

There thus need for a change of the status quo. Constitutional drafters in collaboration with a vibrant civil society and leaders of political parties need to ensure that there is a provision in State Constitutions which prohibit the manipulation of the term of office of the Head of State.

One of the roles of Constitutional Courts is to check on the abuse of power by one arm of government. There is thus need for state institutions like Constitutional Courts and Councils to be able to challenge the modification of fundamental provisions of State Constitutions in Africa.

Civil society groups in Africa need to be well organized and have one voice when it concerns important issues like the manipulation of the term of office of Heads of State. In this same line, the Press in Africa needs to be vibrant and bold in speaking out against the modification of fundamental provisions of State Constitutions.
It does not suffice to only have a weak separation of powers as we have in most African states. There is need for institutional and political parameters to be able to stop the manipulation of State Constitutions.

This article is originally written in French and published at LibreAfrique.org. as ‘Comment stopper le tripatouillage des Constitutions en Afrique? on the 12 December 2014.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Tackling the urbanisation quagmire in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, by Chofor Che, published in French at LibreAfrique.org, 31 October 2014


The Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (or CEMAC from its name in French: Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale,) is an organization of states of Central Africa established by Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to promote economic integration among countries that share a common currency, the CFA franc. CEMAC’s objectives are the promotion of trade, the institution of a genuine common market, and greater solidarity among peoples and towards under-privileged countries and regions

There is no gainsaying that CEMAC states face a growing urbanisation problem especially as the United Nations Habitat (UN Habitat) Chief recently predicted that in ten years to come, capital cities like Yaoundé in Cameroon would not be able to contain the growing population. Some states like Cameroon, in partnership with UN Habitat, have even held a national summit like the National Urbanisation Summit, which took place in October 2014 in a bid to redress the growing urbanisation challenges in the state. Does it suffice to keep on holding such summits? Is the affair of tackling growing challenges of urbanisation in the CEMAC region an affair solely for big governments?

Prior to independence most African states including states in the CEMAC region did not have adequate urbanisation plans especially for the capital cities. Most of the towns especially in the CEMAC zone were built without adequate urban planning. In addition to this lacuna most government leaders especially in CEMAC states like Cameroon, Gabon and Chad did not see the necessity to upgrade major cities not to talk about smaller towns. This predicament has started catching up on these states which has triggered the need for brain storming.

In addition to the poor urbanisation planning, the decentralisation process which states like Cameroon, Chad and Gabon embarked on remains timid. Mayors complain on a daily basis of difficulties for them to adequately engage in urbanisation efforts in their various municipalities because the transfer of human and financial resources from central governments remains timid. During the last National Decentralisation Council which took place in Cameroon in September 2014, the Prime Minister, Head of Government re-echoed the need for various government ministers to ensure that human and financial resources are expeditiously transferred to councils all over the country. This position was buttressed upon by the Minister of Urbanisation of Cameroon, Jean Claude Mbwentchou during a programme on the 20 October 2014 broadcast on Cameroon Radio Television Broadcasting Corporation, CRTV.

Indeed the challenges facing urbanisation in the CEMAC region are humongous as expounded above. A start off point in redressing this melee may be to ensure that cities in CEMAC states have an adequate urbanisation plan which will entail redesigning most states in the CEMAC region. Redesigning cities does not mean individual rights should be trampled upon. Most individuals have obtained land and built in conformity with state rules and regulations. It would thus be prudent for states to work hand in glove with concerned populations before destroying property of innocent citizens. States in the CEMAC zone can learn from durable measures in tacking urbanisation challenges like Rabat in Morocco and Durban in South Africa. In Rabat for instance the town has been restructured in such a way that in the next ten years the growing population would be easily accommodated. The state of Morocco in partnership with individuals and business persons has created nearby residential areas very close to Rabat, so as to cater for the growing accommodation dilemma facing Rabat. A tramp system which is eco friendly has also been created in the city to decongest traffic and make inhabitants have quick access to the city.
Accelerating the decentralisation process is also germane in redressing the urbanisation quagmire in the CEMAC zone. There is thus need for central governments in the CEMAC zone to accelerate the transfer of adequate human and financial resources to councils so as to enable the Mayors and their collaborators restructure their communities. For such an endeavour to be successful there is also need for professionalisation of actors engaged in the urbanisation process, be it at the central, regional or local levels. These officials must be trained on state of the art urbanisation processes as well as to manage finances without getting involved in corrupt practices. It may also be important to ensure that lead roles are accorded to women in urbanisation planning in the CEMAC zone.

If such measures are taken into consideration, rather than holding workshops and summits, then tackling the urbanisation quagmire in the CEMAC zone may be sustainably attainable. A lot of tax payers’ money would thus be used judiciously for a durable and sustainable cause.

This article is published in French at http://www.libreafrique.org/ as CEMAC : Sortir du bourbier de l’urbanisation anarchique

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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An argument for national unity and the preservation of diversity against secession for African states, by Chofor Che


There has been a wave of secessionist tendencies in the world and particularly in Africa prior to independence. Some good examples in Africa include the case of Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon which is an ongoing predicament. Another example is the case of Zanzibar and Tanzania which is under scrutiny by the government of Tanzania. Other examples in Europe include the case of the United Kingdom and Spain. Judging from cases like the chaos which has befallen South Sudan after it seceded from Sudan, the question is should Africans continue to clamor for secession or independence rather than find ways to strengthen national unity and diversity? Are there any alternatives to secession which African states should consider?

There is no gainsaying that the issue of secession seems to be en vogue. Recently Great Britain was almost at the brink of secession when Scotland attempted to break away from the union. Had it not been for the verdict of the referendum of the 18 of September 2014 which saw a majority of Scottish voters say ‘No’ to secession, Scotland would have been an independent state.

The issue of secession is also a hot debate in Spain. Section 2 of the 1978 Constitution suggests that the Spanish Constitution is instituted upon the ‘indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, the common and indivisible patria of all Spaniards, and guarantees the right to self-determination of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity among them all.’ This has led some scholars to argue that the Spanish Constitution falls short in allowing for national diversity in the case of Spain, because it allows for self determination which to some extent gives room for secession. Presently the Catalonians are using the aspect of self determination as a way to break away from Spain. They claim to be suffering from discrimination when it comes to access to jobs, natural resources and business opportunities. Other authors argue that self determination may not necessary mean secession, but rather a clamor for a more decentralized or federal system of government.

Secession seems to presume that disgruntled groups within a state want to break away, and form their own state. Yet it is not at all clear if secession is the priority of all communities. According to experts like University of the Western Cape (UWC) Associate Professor of Law, Yonatan Fessha, separation may only be a suitable option after investigating on other possibilities and only if there is no possibility of co-existence between different groups in the state. It is therefore agreed that secession should only be considered as the final resort and not the primary option where linguistic and ethnic groups cannot be accommodated in a state.

In the cases of Cameroon and Tanzania respectively major reasons why Anglophone Cameroonians and the people of Zanzibar want to secede is because there is some aura of discrimination which persists against these people in these various states. The distribution of jobs, natural resources, educational opportunities and business opportunities is inequitable.

In the case of Kevin Mgwanga Gunme et al v Cameroon before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), brought in 2003 by the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), an Anglophone Cameroon based pressure group fighting for secession on grounds of marginalization, the SCNC argued that the Republic of Cameroon was an extension of French colonisation. They added that Anglophone Cameroonians did not benefit politically and socio-economically from this union. At the 45th Ordinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia, between 13 and 27 May 2009, the African Commission adopted the decision on the merits of the communication. The claim for secession was rejected by the African Commission especially on mainly procedural grounds that the applicant was not a legally recognised group fighting for the interests of all Anglophone Cameroonians. However, secession remains a real problem in Cameroon despite the verdict of the African Commission, as the SCNC in Cameroon has not accomplished its aim.

An example where secession has turned out to be catastrophic for national unity and diversity is the case of Sudan and Southern Sudan. Ever since Southern Sudan broke away from Sudan there has been turmoil and bloodshed. Property and families have been lost.

A probable alternative for secession may thus be to give more political and socio-economic rights to the disadvantaged group or groups in a state. This must not be at the detriment of individual rights especially as individuals must be allowed to own property, trade and circulate freely.

Authors like Professor Nico Steytler and Professor Jaap de Visser of the Community Law Centre at UWC argue that adequate decentralization to local government may be a great alternative rather than secession. This would warrant giving more financial and administrative autonomy via various national constitutions, to local government especially to disadvantaged groups. Professor Steytler also argues that a federal system of government can go a long way to protect unity and diversity. Adequate decentralization and federalism may thus be alternatives to secession. Such systems of governance allow disadvantaged groups in a state partake equitably in the opportunities found therein, if rightly applied by various central governments.

This article is originally published at LibreAfrique.org as Afrique : Quelle alternative à la sécession des États ?

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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