US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020, after being declared the winners of the presidential election. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AFP



This month’s presidential election in the United States has highlighted the vexing and universal conundrum of how to govern in the presence of deep disagreements in society.

This governance challenge stems from sharp cleavages in society, that, while in historical terms are not new, remain real and entrenched.

The mandate president-elect Joe Biden has received after the greatest voter turnout in 120 years in the United States must be seen by him as a mandate to govern through co-operation with various constituencies, and as a way of addressing fundamental injustices through a transformative agenda.

It is a strong endorsement to govern by consensus rather than to dominate through centralised, authoritarian practices. This would be in stark contrast to his predecessor’s autocratic approach which failed to resolve grievances but instead exploited them through populist rhetoric.

In the midst substantive criticism about fragility in the US governance system, GGA would argue that this electoral outcome and the strength of institutions of governance, presents us with a converse argument: that the United States’ democratic parameters are indeed robust, and that its electoral system is characterised by strong institutions and processes that act as checks and balances against the vagaries of populist and autocratic administrations.

The country’s founders built this protection into the constitution precisely to safeguard the American people against autocracy and tyranny.

The key takeout for Africa is that it is by governing with an interest in addressing legitimate grievances that true consensus is formed, which leads to greater peace and prosperity amongst the people and those who would govern.

Chris Maroleng

Executive Director


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Chris Maroleng: + 27 (0)73 274 6501/

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