Democratic backsliding and corruption are becoming more prevalent in southern Africa. Although elections are regarded as free and fair and are occurring regularly, one-party dominant states abound. More often than not, governments in the region often override constitutional provisions to a compliant parliament. Genuine democratic consolidation rests on checks and balances among government branches, sectors, institutions, and public organizations. In southern Africa, judicial branches, which should provide checks and balances to strong executives, are under pressure to make judgments favorable to the ruling party. In these political environments, there is a great demand for assistance that allows lawyers and activists to build cases that meet international standards and helps them to understand and access domestic, regional, and supra-regional judicial legal options. Assistance is also needed to help judges and legal associations to further judicial independence and impartiality at home.
USAID seeks to achieve two main objectives through this programming: to provide technical assistance to judicial actors in the region, encouraging them to facilitate more impartial, independent, and accountable judiciaries; and to provide technical assistance to nongovernmental organizations, lawyers, and advocates regarding legal protections for human rights.
USAID supports regional democracy-building and governance efforts by encouraging improvements to regional election management. This includes providing technical assistance and training to electoral management bodies (EMBs) in the region. EMBs throughout the continent are struggling to manage expensive and logistically complex elections governed by antiquated legislation that is often difficult to interpret and complicated to administer. In a region and a continent in which one-party-dominant states abound, transparent and strong electoral management are prerequisites to multi-party democracies and peaceful democratic transitions. USAID’s programs seek to help establish norms relating to electoral management and legislation.
Last updated: May 10, 2013