Challenges and prospects of functional partnership between the state and civil society

Attempts at providing security, entrenching and consolidating democracy in Africa by the CSOs had been a phenomenal task due to persistent military coup d’ etats, one-party regimes, harsh economic conditions of the late 1980s and leadership crisis. Another problem experienced in Africa during this period was captured by Bereketeab (2013:61—74):

statelessness factors, elitism and particularistic interests of most African leaders, and the factors of political legitimacy in governance among African states, as exemplified in the second Sudanese (North-South) civil war from 1983—2005 and the Darfur crisis; the 1998—2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea war; among others. Consequently, the rising wave of militarism and the attendant problems associated with it (leadership crisis) have in recent times, given writers and contemporary scholars on civil-military relations and political science, reasons to further ponder and extend their studies in the direction of identifying the root causes of these various acts of militarism and leadership crisis with a view to proffering solutions to the troubling cases of militarism within African states.

Also, CSOs faced either a litany of problems — such as insufficient funding which has threatened their existence, growth and functionality as most of them rely heavily on donor agencies and overseas countries (even then, donor support has now reduced drastically with the “wave of post-war reconstruction” projects in the world); lack of internal democracy due to the selfish interest of “NGO elites”; corruption and self-aggrandising tendencies; lack of transparency among many NGOs — on how donor funds are utilised or are out-rightly misappropriated, among others. “This tends to weaken the civil society organisation’s moral right to engage the state. It also hinders people of integrity and value from associating with them. The impact of their advocacy tor a change is also limited because it is stated that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands” (Omede & Bakare, 2014:17). Internal wrangling along political, social, identity' and ideological factors also undermine the activities of some of this CSOs’ ability' to relate with each other. Due to the lucrative nature and profitability of working in the nongovernmental area, “the emergent business, commercial and consultancy orientation is weakening the voluntary, selfless and sacrificial orientation and the focus on social assistance, welfare and support to the weak, vulnerable and less advantaged groups. There are now many self- interested, profit-making, exploitative, and un-altruistic NGOs that are operating and masquerading as civil society organisations” (Ikelegbe, 2013:47).

One of the most challenging problems those seeking to prevent conflicts must overcome is the lack of political will for action. CSOs in Africa lack the political will to execute policies which is crucial in preventing major humanitarian crisis or genocide at times; they possess a fragile capacity for mobilisation and cannot sustain a long period of protest; inability to access information; disconnection from rural organisations; lack of clear cut objectives and experience; and government patronage. These challenges are daunting and adversative to security provisioning, democratic consolidation, and good governance. CSOs can therefore be more effective in security provisioning, provision of humanitarian assistance, conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and democratisation process only when they form structures that correspond to the state’s institutions and can therefore better respond to their challenges. However, despite the shortcomings of CSOs in Africa, they have been active in the struggle for good governance. Civil society organisations are an essential prerequisite for the entrenchment and promotion of good governance as their activities are crucial in the political, economic, and socio-cultural development of African countries. Omede and Bakare (2014) maintain that CSOs improve the quality of governance; they develop the capacity of governments to apply the principles of accountability, transparency and openness; and work towards gaining the commitment of all elected officials, public servants, and NGOs to good governance. Concisely, they have contributed enormously to democratic consolidation and sustainable development through a functional partnership with states in security provisioning in Africa. These organisations serve as the internal disciplinary mechanism to check and balance the activities of government to avoid wasteful spending, misappropriation and embezzlement of funds and help determine or prioritise the needs of the people.

According to the African Union (2006:v), some of the functional partnership between the state and civil society in security provisioning in Africa include the immediate humanitarian needs of affected populations, recovery and reconstruction efforts in post-conflict societies; demobilisation, disarmament, reintegration, and rehabilitation (DDRR) of former combatants; the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons (I DPs) and returnee refugees; grassroots level reconciliation; as well as the establishment of the foundations for good governance in both the political and socio-economic spheres. These tasks should also be undertaken in tandem with Africa’s efforts toward regional integration and socio-economic regeneration. Despite the magnitude and complexity of the challenges at hand, however, the affected African countries, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the AU Commission, with the support of a host of Africa’s partners, continue to make a tremendous effort and register remarkable progress. Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Comoros have all made strides in their recovery and reconstruction efforts. Undoubtedly, the achievements made to date need to be consolidated further.

Other prospects of CSOs in security provisioning as outline by An International Director)’ of the European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation (1998) include performing a preventive role through early warning function by alerting the international community of potential breakdowns in a distressed country’s government or relations among the country’s major domestic groups as was seen in many African countries; Human rights monitoring through the gathering of supplementary information in areas of tension, sending out a mission, etc.; Peace-building/strengthening civil society through small-scale local capacity building (training of local leaders, etc.); Supporting peace constituencies by establishing well- knit local infrastructures across the levels of society that empower the resources for reconciliation; Conflict resolution activities through training of their employees and facilitating conflict resolution mechanisms; ensuring advocacy, lobby and education (International Directory, 1998). In the 21st century according to Cedric de Coning (2007), the focus of international conflict management is increasingly shifting from peace-keeping, which was about maintaining the status quo, to peace-building, which has to do with managing transitions. This development, from peace-keeping to peace-building has emerged as new, mostly civilian; dimensions were added to traditional military peace-keeping mandates. These new dimensions were aimed at assisting the host country to sustain the momentum of the peace process by supporting transitional arrangements; establishing new or reforming existing national institutions such as the defence force, police sendee, and the judiciary; assisting with the organising of elections; supporting constitution drafting processes; and, facilitating restorative justice initiatives.

 
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