Constitutionalism & Democratic Consolidation in Africa
July 6 - 8, 2022
The Government of Botswana and the National Democratic Institute will co-host an “International Summit on Constitutionalism and Democratic Consolidation in Africa,” in Gaborone, Botswana from July 6-8, 2022
The upcoming event will include contributions from current and former African Heads of State who are strong proponents of democratic governance. They will be joined by political leaders, civil society activists, academics and representatives from regional institutions such as the Nairobi-based Katiba Institute, Africtivistes, Tournons la Page, the Presidential Precinct, and the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL).
The summit will feature panel discussions on, among other topics, respect for constitutional rule across the continent, and strengthening of political discourse in favor of respecting presidential term limits. The Summit is on-the-record, open press and will be live-streamed.
Panel I: Challenges to Constitutionalism, and efforts to Counter Democratic Decline in Africa
Mr. Oshinka Tsiang, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, Ministry for State President
H.E. Joyce Banda, Former President of Malawi [remarks shared by her assistant Mr. Arnold Mnelemba]
Mr. Siphosami Malunga, OSISA Executive Director and OSF-Africa Programs Director
In recent years, democracy’s trajectory across Africa has shifted from one of enthusiastic growth and consolidation to one of decline and backsliding. Hard-earned advances in strengthening democratic institutions and practices as seen in the early 1990s, are being lost as authoritarian regimes shrink political space, entrench their personal grip on power, and undermine democratic constitutional norms. During this panel, distinguished former heads of state would share their thoughts on why the tide towards democratic consolidation has turned, what can be done to combat the backsliding, and what role national and international stakeholders could play in the current context.
Questions for Panelists:
What went wrong after the many successful transitions of the 1990s - challenges?
Where are today's opportunities for democratic consolidation?
What expectations should African democrats have of national and international stakeholders?
Panel II: Research on Constitutional Term Limits
Ms. Melene Rossouw, Executive Director, Women Lead Movement
Dr. Elvis Fokala, President ANCL
Prof. Charles Fombad, Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA)
Dr. Adem Abebe, Vice-President of ANCL, Adviser to the International Journal of Constitutional Law
Dr. Yvonne Oyieke, Deputy Secretary-general of ANCL and Lecturer at the Law Faculty of Pretoria University
During this session, Dr Elvis Fokala of the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL) will be discussing current research on constitutionalism and presidential term limits and share thoughts on challenges to constitutional term limits, citizens’ perceptions, and efforts to sustain democratic rule. Panelists will highlight differences and commonalities from across the continent.
Panel III: Prospects for Consolidating Constitutionalism in Africa – views from sitting presidents
Dr. Bashi Mothusi, Coordinator, Botswana Democracy Research Project, University of Botswana
H.E. Hage Geingob, President of Namibia
H.E. Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde
Professor Lekorwe Mogopodi, Associate Professor, University of Botswana/National Coordinator and Investigator for Afrobarometer
This panel provides an opportunity for sitting African Heads of State and government to share their vision for democracy, good governance, and constitutionalism now and in the years ahead. They will examine how constitutional term limits safeguard democratic processes, and the role of international and regional frameworks in reinforcing democratic norms. They may also highlight initiatives that they have spearheaded or supported at the national or regional levels to consolidate constitutionalism as a core democratic pillar, and outline future actions to further strengthen the same.
Questions for Panelists:
Personal perspectives on Africa’s democratic future?
What more can regional and continental bodies do to deepen democratic principles and practices?
How can existing frameworks such as the African charter on D.E.G be fully and better implemented?
Panel IV: Women's Political leadership and democratization efforts in Africa
Mr. Thebeyame Ramoroka, Editor, Botswana DailyNews
H.E. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi
Hon. Annah Mokgethi, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Republic of Botswana
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, President/CEO, Human Capital Africa (HCA) and Founder, School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG)/#FixPolitics, Former VP, World Bank
Ms. Corinne Momal-Vanian, Executive Director, Kofi Annan Foundation
Despite efforts at greater gender parity in the political sphere in Africa, women continue to face overwhelming barriers to access the highest offices of the land. Thus far, only one woman has been elected president on the continent and, currently, only one woman serves as president out of the 54 sitting heads of state. This panel will focus on hearing from women former presidents and other panelists their personal experiences including the challenges and opportunities encountered because of gender. Panelists will discuss why women leaders tend to exhibit more respect for constitutionalism and rule of law than their male counterparts, and how constitutionalism and term limits enhance women's political participation. They would also make recommendations on concrete steps that should be taken to expand inclusiveness and opportunities for the next generation of women leaders.
Questions for Panelists:
What inspires women leaders to be more respectful of constitutions and term limits than their male counterparts?
How would constitutionalism and term limits enhance inclusion and the lead role of women in politics?
Based on their personal and real life experiences, what advice would these leaders have for youth and women interested in political leadership
Panel V: The Constitution and the Presidency – the Ethics of Power
Siphosami Malunga, OSISA Executive Director and OSF- Africa Programs Director
Hon. Roelf Meyer, former Minister of Constitutional Affairs, South Africa
Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, President/CEO, Human Capital Africa (HCA) and Founder, School of Politics, Policy and Governance
In democratic societies, elected leaders earn their mandate from citizens through regular and credible elections, guided by the social contract that binds the people and those that govern within the framework of the constitution and democratic values embraced by society as a whole. Beyond the letter and the spirit of the constitution and other legal instruments, is the question of ethical leadership that makes the difference between performing and non-performing leaders. This panel will focus on the need for ethical leadership and how to raise the bar on political leaders. The panel will examine the role of constitutional norms in promoting ethical leadership, as well as how constitutional reform can be used effectively to strengthen democratic norms and institutions rather than weaken them.
Questions for Panelists:
How can ethical leadership be enshrined in constitutions to foster better democratic governance
Besides legal instruments, what incentives can African societies present to enhance ethical leadership among political leaders and aspirants?
What models of ethical leadership should the continent look up too?
Panel VI: Regional Institutions countering Democratic Backsliding
Dr. Kebapetse Lotshwao, Head of Dept. of Political Science, University of Botswana
Ms. Abibata Tientega Barry, Constitutionalism and Rule of Law, Head of Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, African Union
Mr. Sheuneni Kurasha, Programme Manager for Democracy and Governance for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum
Mr. David Michael Onen, Principal Political Affairs Officer, East African Community
Mr. David Dosseh, Program Coordinator at Tournons la Page, Togo
Regional institutions play an important role in promoting democratic norms and resolving disputes between and within member countries. These institutions have frameworks and instruments aimed at safeguarding democratic norms, such as the African Union’s charter on elections, democracy and governance, and the ECOWAS additional protocol on democracy and good governance. However, in recent years, these frameworks have proven insufficient to curb democratic backsliding in member countries. During the panel, representatives from key regional institutions will evaluate their strategies to stop democratic backsliding and share ideas on opportunities for innovation and better performance in their approaches. Civil society perspectives on these issues will also be represented.
Questions for Panelists:
How can regional institutions be more effective in countering democratic backsliding on the continent?
How can regional organizations inspire greater respect and implementation of legal instruments that strengthen constitutionalism and rule of law?
What opportunities exist for innovation and greater synergies among regional organizations?
Panel VII: Civil Society, the Media and Grassroots Mobilization in Support of Term Limits
Mr. Dickson Omondi, Regional Director Southern and East Africa, NDI
Ms. Christine Nkonge, Executive Director at Katiba Institute, Kenya
Mr. Cheikh Fall, Co-Founder and President at AfricTivistes, Senegal
Ms. Ruth Omondi, OSF-Africa Communications Manager and Media Expert
Mr. Monametsi Sokwe, Executive Director, Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO)
Mr. James Nkuubi, Chair of the Civil and Political Rights Working Group at the School of Law, Makerere University, Uganda
In recent years, many citizen-led movements have emerged to support constitutional term limits, oftentimes in opposition to attempts by leaders to abrogate such term limits. Regional civil society organizations and networks have stepped forward to advocate and raise awareness on the merits respecting the constitution, mobilizing along the way citizen support against efforts to subvert term limits. This panel will explore new and innovative strategies by regional civil society organizations to build support for constitutionalism and term limits. Panelists will evaluate the challenges and opportunities of coordinating awareness-raising and advocacy campaigns across national boundaries.
Questions for panelists:
How can we engage women, youth, and other traditionally marginalized groups in advocacy to promote respect for constitutional term limits?
How can we create synergies among civil society organizations and with influential cultural icons (such as artists, athletes, and writers), to aggregate and promote interest in, and adherence to constitutional term limits.
What opportunities do CSOs have to mobilize citizen support for constitutional term limits across the continent?
How can we engage the media to mobilize public discourse and pressure for constitutional term limits on the continent?
VIII: Africa’s Future: Youth, Politics, and Term Limits
Ichumile Gqada, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
Boniface Dulani, Director of Surveys, Afrobarometer
Aminata Touré, Former Prime Minister of Senegal
Arnold Tsunga, NDI Resident Country Director (Zimbabwe)
Adem Abebe, Executive Committee Member, African Network of Constitutional Lawyers
Africa is the youngest continent in the world with 70 percent of the population of sub-saharan Africa at 30 years or younger. As of January 2021, the average age of citizens on the continent was 19 years, while the average age of African presidents was 62 years. The continent has the two longest serving presidents in the world with President Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea at 43 years and president Paul Biya of Cameroon at 40 years in power. Despite prevalent socio-economic and political hurdles, African youth continue to demonstrate enormous dynamism through the vibrancy of their engagement in civil society and political party-led efforts to gain access to elective office. This roundtable discussion will hear from the African youth, and explore ways in which their voices can be heard and an enabling environment created for youth engagement in political leadership. The panel will also focus on the expectations of young people vis-a-vis their elected leaders and how constitutional term limits can enhance accountability and also create more leadership opportunities for youth and other traditionally marginalized groups.
Questions for Panelists:
How can youth priorities be leveraged to reinforce constitutionalism and rule of law?
What strategies and techniques for African youth mobilizing for better governance and respect for term limits?
What innovative and adaptive approaches would you recommend for African youth in politics?