Democracy is the most preferred mode of governance in Africa. Yet most African democracies fall woefully short of citizen expectations. Beyond the standard culprits – corruption, inequality and ethnic tension – African democracies are menaced by new challenges sparked by changing technologies, violent extremism, and the rise of xenophobia. The Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit (DCE Unit) is designed to address these problems, merging a host of strategies in research, training and advocacy. Its mission is to develop strong, direct democracies in Africa, that can amplify citizen voices in decision-making. Crucially, it aims to ‘Africanise’ the democratic process, advocating for political arrangements well suited to address Africa’s peculiarities.
The DCE Unit works extensively with the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) – the chief legislative organ of the African Union. From its seat in South Africa, PAP provides a regional platform for Africans and their civil society organisations to have a greater impact on the decisions affecting the continent. The DCE Unit ensures that civil society can engage with PAP, contribute to its policies, and chart new directions for governance on the continent.
Through research, capacity building and advocacy the unit’s responsibilities include:
- Promoting the ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance
- Encouraging and facilitating civil society engagement with PAP’s mandate, its processes and activities.
- Support institutions that defend democracy in Africa
- Tackling xenophobia in South Africa