Free country

There are two counts on which a country can be classified as a free country. For one, the country oughts not to be controlled by another country a state that most African countries can brag about post colonialism.

The second count, however, is a country where the government does not control what people say or do for political reasons and where people can express their opinions without punishment. This, of course, is a harder count to qualify especially in African countries where democracy is young and sometimes problematic.

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In a free country people are able to elect their own leaders but sometimes those leaders turn against the ideals of a free country when they get into power. This is why the status of countries as free can often change from year to year.

Take Zimbabwe as an example; incumbent President Robert Mugabe is democratically elected but he has ruled for so long and has sometimes been accused of stifling opposition so much so that it would be hard to consider Zimbabwe as a free country.

If for anything, when the opposition voice of Pastor Mwawire arose in the country last year but for external intervention, he would have faced a count of treason that would have led to his death.

Freedom in the World is a yearly survey and report by the U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House that provides useful statistics on the subject of a free country.

Free country

They measure the degree of civil liberties and political rights in every nation and significant related and disputed territories around the world. It was launched in 1973 by Raymond Gastil. The group produces annual scores representing the levels of political rights and civil liberties in each state and territory, on a scale from 1 (most free) to 7 (least free).

Their reports are often used by researchers in order to measure democracy. To rank countries in Africa on the basis of being a free country, we are considering the results of the Freedom in the World survey conducted in 2016.

According to Freedom of the World, to qualify as an “electoral democracy” and therefore a free country, a state must have satisfied the following criteria:

  • A competitive, multiparty political system
  • Universal adult suffrage for all citizens (with exceptions for restrictions that states may legitimately place on citizens as sanctions for criminal offenses)
  • Regularly contested elections conducted in conditions of ballot secrecy, reasonable ballot security, and the absence of massive voter fraud that yields results that are unrepresentative of the public will
  • Significant public access of major political parties to the electorate through the media and through generally open political campaigning.

They also state that an electoral democracy must have a score of 7 or more out of 12 in political rights subcategory and an overall aggregate score of 20 in their political rights rating. With the resultant ratings from that criteria, the country is then classified as “Free”, “Partly Free”, or “Not Free”.

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So which countries in Africa satisfy the definition of a free country? Check how your country fares below;

  • Angola — Not free
  • Benin — Free
  • Botswana — Free
  • Burkina Faso — Partly free
  • Burundi — Not free
  • Cameroon — Not free
  • Cape Verde — Free
  • Central African Republic — Not free
  • Chad — Not free
  • Comoros — Partly free
  • The Republic of Congo — Not free
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo — Not free
  • Ivory Coast –Partly free
  • Djibouti — Not free
  • Equatorial Guinea — Not free
  • Eritrea — Not free
  • Ethiopia — Not free
  • Gabon — Not free
  • Gambia — Not free
  • Ghana — Free
  • Guinea — Partly free
  • Guinea-Bissau — Partly free
  • Kenya — Partly free
  • Lesotho — Partly free
  • Liberia — Partly free
  • Madagascar –Partly free
  • Malawi — Partly free
  • Mali — Partly free
  • Mauritania — Not free
  • Mauritius — Free
  • Mozambique — Partly free
  • Namibia — Free
  • Niger — Partly free
  • Nigeria — Partly free
  • Rwanda — Not free
  • São Tomé and Príncipe — Free
  • Senegal — Free
  • Seychelles — Partly free
  • Sierra Leone — Partly free
  • Somalia — Not free
  • South Africa — Free
  • South Sudan — Not free
  • Sudan — Not free
  • Swaziland — Not free
  • Tanzania — Partly free
  • Togo — Partly free
  • Uganda — Not free
  • Zambia — Partly free
  • Zimbabwe — Partly free

From this list, in 2017, only nine African countries can really be classified as free countries a bulk of countries in Africa are only partly free and 19 countries in Africa are really not free.