Africa and the prospects of deliberative democracy

South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):207-219 (2013)
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Preoccupation with multiparty aggregative democracy in Africa has produced superficial forms of political/electoral choice-making by subjects that deepen pre-existing ethnic and primordial cleavages. This is because the principles of the multiparty system presuppose that decision-making through voting should be the result of a mere aggregation of pre-existing, fixed preferences. To this kind of decision-making, I propose deliberative democracy as a supplementary approach. My reason is that deliberation, beyond mere voting, should be central to decisionmaking and that, for a decision to be legitimate, it must be preceded by deliberation, not merely the aggregation of pre-existing fixed preferences. I agree with arguments that when adequate justifications are made for claims/demands/conclusions, deliberation has the potential to have a salutary effect on people’s opinions, transform/evolve preferences, better inform judgments/voting, lead to increasingly ‘common good’ decisions, have moral educative power, place more burden of account-giving on public officers, and furnish subjects/losers/outvoted with justifications for collectively binding decisions. I argue that a deliberative turn in politics in Africa will have a mitigating effect on tribal and money politics



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