CHAPTER IV: THE CONSCIENCE OF SOCIETY
During the final decade of the 20th Century, African countries came under tremendous pressure from within and from the west to effect democratic reforms. Political scientists thought they had finally figured out the solution to Africa’s woes. The trouble, they diagnosed, was not so much the economic crisis and the poverty resulting from the same crisis, but rather it was the question of inadequate political structures. Since the democratic system of governance was thought to be most enabling for economic development, it was proposed as the way forward for Africa.
Although social scientists, like the Tanzanian Issa G. Shivji, have dismissed the democracy project in Africa by arguing that “the western liberal democratic form has been tried again and again in Africa and totally failed,” African countries have not been deterred from experimenting with democracy again. Like many African countries, Zambia embarked on her democratic reforms in early 1990. These reforms culminated in multiparty elections in 1991.
The Zambian Church played two major roles during this period of transition. First, she played a mediatory role by bringing together opposing political parties. These meetings, which often took place at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross, had tremendous impact, in that all the thorny issues were sorted out before the elections were called. Secondly, the Church played the role of civic education. Without being partisan, the Church made it her responsibility to inform the citizens about the importance of political participation, and especially about the political reforms that were happening.
There are two main perspectives emerging to the question of democratizing Africa. The first is the liberal democratic perspective, and the other is popular democracy. Shivji, however, observes that
The sway of the liberal democratic model is not only theoretical or academic, but even more,...