Guest column: Reginald T Sibanda

THE African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) has a key role to play in enhancing political, social and economic governance on the continent.

Countries which are not performing well such as Zimbabwe have more to gain from this enhancement.

ACDEG is an important readily available instrument that should be utilised in promoting citizen urgency.

Ensuring that all public decisions are people centred is fundamental to the overall development aspects of a democratic nation.

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Citizen urgency cannot be fully achieved through government efforts alone, but through a balance of concerted efforts from the government, private sector actors and civil society organisations (CSOs).

This article calls for the ratification and domestication of the ACDEG by the government of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s ability to develop prior and post the new dispensation era has been stifled by poor political, social and economic governance.

Corruption is the cancer wearing out the ability of public institutions to provide required public goods to citizens.

Development remains distant among social groups with special needs which include women, youths and people living with disabilities.

The level of participation of these groups in political and economic spheres is highly limited.

Their situation is worsened by corruption, which is highest in the public sector and perpetrated by elected officials and senior civil servants.

Women, youths and people living with disabilities are finding it difficult to break through into formal politics.

They have been sidelined to the periphery when it comes to decision-making processes, especially on decisions which have a direct effect on their lives.

Youths in Zimbabwe are victims of manipulation by politicians through adoption of thematic approaches which compromise their future.

The government is urged to intensify citizen participation in political, social and economic governance to empower ordinary people in order for them to actively participate in decision-making, both at local and national levels.

A vibrant community has higher chances of holding public policymakers accountable for their past public policies and election promises.

To promote citizen agency in Zimbabwe, the government is urged to domesticate the ACDEG, which prioritises involvement of groups with special needs into political, social and economic governance.

Article 32 of the charter provides that State parties shall ensure systematic and comprehensive civic education in order to encourage full participation of social groups with special needs in democracy and development processes.

The CSOs’ role and private actors in emancipating marginalised groups to participate in poverty eradication and reducing inequality should be fully harnessed.

ACDEG is the enabling legislation that facilitates effective partnership between government and CSOs as provided for in article 27(2) of the charter.

ACDEG domestication would facilitate the potential of Zimbabwe to develop into middle economy status, characterised by reduction of poverty and inequality and expansion of real freedoms.

Full participation of marginalised citizens eliminates corruption as the vulnerable groups hold public policymakers to account for their performance and election promises. Rent opportunities in the public sector can be curbed if accountability is strong.

Reginald T Sibanda is an Activista Zimbabwe member. He writes here in his personal capacity.