Idasa celebrates second International Day of Democracy

African democracy institute Idasa marks the second United Nations International Day of Democracy on 15 September with a call to political leaders on the continent to take up the challenge of strengthening and supporting democratic governance systems within Africa.

Idasa commemorates International Democracy Day by extending its campaign for the endorsement of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, written by the African Union, and calls on more governments to sign the Charter. This campaign is a joint project of Idasa and the Africa Democracy Forum (ADF). The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which was adopted in January 2007, has to date been signed by 26 countries in Africa, but has only been ratified by Mauritania and Ethiopia.

Despite the scourge of corruption and non-accountability in many African states, and the challenges of HIV/AIDS, human insecurities and climate change across the continent, building democracy in Africa is a task that cannot be delegated to other countries and governments who are friends of Africa; this remains a challenge for Africans themselves.

The United Nations declared 15 September International Day of Democracy on November 8 2007 and invited all member states, non-governmental organisations and individuals to honour this important day and to make sure that citizens and civil society are given an appropriate opportunity to be involved in, and contribute to, the celebration of it.

Last year Idasa commemorated the first International Day of Democracy by planting a tree for democracy at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. Through its various projects all over Africa, Idasa continues to plant ‘trees of democracy’ by encouraging active citizenship, building democratic institutions and advocating for social justice.

Through its governance programmes, Idasa aims to embed a culture of democracy within an African context, bringing to the forefront issues relevant to the notions of democracy, including traditional leadership, democracy and religion. While appreciating the universality of democracy we need to strengthen and support democratic governance systems within the African context. We are encouraged to see ongoing SADC commitment to keeping Zimbabwe and Swaziland on its agenda and continue to hope that an amicable solution to the stalemate in Madagascar will
soon be found.

On this global day of democracy, dedication to finding lasting peaceful solutions will bring joy to citizens who have been alienated from their public representatives. We need to narrow the gap between the rich and poor, between voters and public representatives, so that all citizens can enjoy the fruits of democracy.

For more information on the International Day of Democracy, and Idasa’s campaign on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, contact Siyabonga Memela, Manager of Idasa’s Political Governance Programme, on or 27 12 392 0500.

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