A warm welcome to the new premier online version of Drums of Change! For those of you familiar with the publication, we are thrilled to once again provide a platform in which to share insights on peace and development news concerning the continent and the world more broadly. We hope the online version will be easily accessible to our readers and encourage greater communication with one another.

To our first time readers, this publication is an initiative of the ACTION Support Centre (ASC) based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The ASC is the African regional and continental hub of a global network of organisations and individuals committed to positive ACTION to transform conflict. As part of ASC’s Peace and Development Platform which aims to provide a space for grassroots issues and concerns relating to peace and human security to be articulated through research, training and direct lobbying, the Drums of Change publication seeks to narrow the gap between policymakers and communities by making information accessible and providing a shared platform for established writers, emerging voices, policymakers and conflict transformation practitioners.This issue of Drums of Change seeks to explore and understand democracy through a transformative lens. The democratisation of African governance systems is often associated with conflict and violence. Polarised politics and power struggles emerging during election period often escalate tensions that result in armed conflict and protracted violence. This issue of Drums seeks to find another way of telling the story of African democracy. A transformative narrative will try to link the opportunities presented by democratic systems for deeper forms of public participation.

One of the articles in this issue explores South Africa’s journey to celebrating twenty years of democracy.  As South Africans make their way to polls on May 7 2014, the eyes of the whole world will be on South Africa to scrutinise the successes and downfalls of South Africa’s democratic system. Therefore, in this article we will provide a balanced view of the setbacks and progress made by South Africa over these twenty years. We also share an article by one of ASC’s associates in Egypt, Yasmine Mahmoud Fakhry, who does a comparison between the democratic transition between Egypt and Tunisia. In this article Fakhry questions what Tunisia did differently that Egypt did not do in an attempt to transform the democratic system of the state. The article also draws upon the lessons that can be taken out of the Tunisian case study, which can be applied within the Egyptian democracy transition.

Moreover, with the upcoming elections that will take place in Mozambique later this year, Richard Smith from the ASC, shares a contextual analysis article on Mozambique, which will provide some insights on what is happening on the ground in Mozambique. This article addresses three critical themes: the internal FRELIMO presidential candidate selection process, electoral law reform and national dialogue process. In addition, the current on-going conflict in South Sudan has stirred much reaction within the African continent as well as the international community. We share a piece from Chuol Chot Puoch that highlights the importance of allowing a transparent reconciliation process among South Sudan leaders, which will lead to social transformation.

Gabon’s democratic system is one that is rarely discussed in literature. With this issue being centred on the democratisation of African governance systems, we take this opportunity to look at the case study of Gabon since the 2009 elections. This article provides a brief political background of the country and sheds some light on the democratic transformation that has taken place and the way forward. With the Millennium Development Goals coming to an end, it is crucial that we discuss the implications and the way forward for the democratic apparatus of states throughout the African continent. We share a presentation by Adane Ghebremeskel, which seeks to discuss the peace, security and development nexus in Africa and its connection to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

The ACTION Support Centre together with its associates enjoyed putting this issue together and we hope you will enjoy reading it, as well as share it with your friends and colleagues.

The views expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the ACTION Support Centre or the ACTION for Conflict Transformation network movement.

The Drums of Change welcomes your thoughts and contributions, so please feel free to send your thoughts and feedback to info@asc.org.za, and we encourage the discussion and debates to continue through our Facebook page.

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