The Harvard Ministerial Forum took place in September against the backdrop of two more military coup d’état – bringing the number of countries in Africa under military rule to seven – as well as popular, often violent protests across multiple African countries. Addressing the Forum, former Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete said these events reflected deep-seated citizen dissatisfaction with governments’ failure to deliver improvements in their lives. Citizens across Africa have been acutely affected by the economic and social effects of the COVID pandemic and adverse global economic circumstances. Citing a recent Afrobarometer survey of African attitudes to democracy, former President Kikwete noted that these developments do not represent a rejection of democracy. He referenced his recent experience monitoring elections in Zimbabwe where he witnessed thousands of voters waiting for hours to cast their vote. Similar scenes played out in other countries that recently had elections. While a majority of respondents in the Afrobarometer survey expressed a preference for democracy, a significant proportion said they would choose military rule if that was the only way to get rid of an authoritarian leader. The former President exhorted participating Ministers to resist corruption and commit to deliver on their citizens’ expectations of them.

Access the Afrobarometer Survey here: