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Africa Where Do We Go From Here To Get It Right In Politics
There is this school of thought that, Africa's political and economic failings proof that Africans are incapable of ruling themselves. The doubt certainly occupies the thoughts of many Africans as they watch their prostrated countries treated as basket cases; pour water, you get nothing; pour grains, you get a little fraction; pour stones, you get something reasonable. Self-doubt has grown with each decade of apparent failure.
A sweeping glance at the African political scene reveals that lack of honest responsible and patriotic leadership remains the greatest clog in the wheel of the continent’s socio-economic development. The first generation of leaders who took over from the different colonial masters simply replaced external colonialism with internal colonialism .
The likes of Idi Amin of Uganda, Jean-Bédel
Bokassa of the Central African Republic ,Mobutu Sese Seko of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo, , Jomo
Kenyatta of Kenya and Sani Abacha of Nigeria, were some of the hideous despots
who dominated African politics from the 1970s, to the 1990s when dictatorship,
be it military or civilian, was the fashionable polity. Each of these maximum
rulers either died in office or was humiliated out, leaving behind very sad
memories and a revolting personality.
Even after the unlamented exits of these shameless despots, Africa remains in the political woods, despite the shining model offered by Nelson Mandela. In his immediate South African constituency, Mandela’s successors have found his legacy of honest, astute and transparent leadership too idealistic to sustain. Thabo Mbeki, his immediate successor, was forced to resign after being recalled by the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC), due to a judicial indictment of improper interference in his desperate prosecution of Jacob Zuma on corruption charges, in a futile bid to stop the latter from succeeding him.
Why can’t the rest of Africa follow the foot step of this astute achiever in the person of Nelson Mandela. Maybe, African Union should make his legacy a norm to be adopted by each member state.
on the Continent, African leaders continue to give a very poor account of
themselves. In Nigeria, after ruling the country for an unprecedented period of
11 years, the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo (alias OBJ), desperately
sought a constitutional amendment for tenure elongation that might have made
him the Eyadema of Nigerian politics. The worthy example of Mandela who even gave
up his right to a second term, and for which he now enjoys widespread
international fame and respectability, did not appeal to his ‘do or die’
politics. The fragile international reputation OBJ had shored up by handing
over to a civilian regime in 1979 was sacrificed on the altar of blind
And just across the South African border, in adjacent Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe carries on as if to tell Nelson Mandela that the latter was stupid to have relinquished power so easily when he had the option of clinging on to it for the rest of his life. Now an octogenarian, Mugabe has no plan to leave the presidential mansion alive so as not to deny himself of the pomp and pageantry of a state funeral – that is, if the thought of death ever crosses his mind. Even after being rejected at the polls, he remained adamant and merely invited the victor to join him in phoney power-sharing. Robert Mugabe, the redoubtable freedom fighter of yesteryears, has sadly become an embarrassing monster today; the sorest carbuncle on the face of contemporary Africa.
The current show of shame in Cote d’Ivorie where Laurent Koudou Gbagbo, the incumbent president, decides to sit tight despite his electoral defeat, must be a fresh source of pain and embarrassment to Africa’s founding fathers where ever they are now. With the acclaimed winner, Alassane Ouattara, also claiming his mandate, the country is fast sliding into anarchy and possibly a bloody civil war, all on account of one man’s blind, political ambition. The two men, are they really thinking of those hundreds of thousands of people that have fled their homes or the hundreds of people that have lost their lives! The answer is capital NO. But Gbagbo finds good company in Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Nigeria’s Babangida who have infamous records of annulment or manipulation of popular electoral results and he(Babangida) wants to come back.
While African despots are not short of companions, Nelson Mandela remains singularly alone at the mountain top of good and democratic governance in Africa, easily one of the top 10 greatest men in human history, transcending race and religion. Who will join him in that mountain top, we will leave the answer to the God of Africa; only Him can answer that for now. His loneliness is that of the long distance runner whose pace, reach and stamina cannot be matched by any of his contemporaries, and whose paradigm of absolute sacrifice, commitment and integrity remains substantially inimitable.
Africa's tragedy is not that its nations are poor That is a condition that is a product of history. The tragedy is that it lacks ruling classes that are committed to overcoming the state of poverty. Real politics here has little to do with social and economic reconstruction. The observation of the assassinated South African writer Ruth First in her book The Barrel of a Gun published in 1970 remains valid today. "There has been eloquent, inexhaustible talk in Africa about politics, side by side with the gaping poverty of political thought. Down there on the ground in Africa, you can smother in the small talk of politics. Mostly it is about politicking, rarely about policies. Politicians are men who compete with each other for power, not men who use power to confront their country's problems."
Now, What are the consequences of all these bad governance, dwindling the progressive wheel of African development: worse economy, poor health system, infrastructural decay, high rate of illiteracy, high rate of unemployment, high rate of insecurity, brain drain etc
Now, let us look at the area of democracy, Despite the establishment of constitutional democracy in some States, African leaders continue to exercise power in unprincipled and pernicious ways, using the machinery of government to harass opponents while enriching themselves and their cronies. Most African leaders are yet to acquire the mien or even the gravitas to advance and consolidate democratic ideals. A great majority of them are terminally corrupt, invertebrate and focus almost exclusively on cultivating power and amassing wealth, often at the expense of the democracy and the welfare of their citizens. Vastly diminished, perhaps pliant legislatures, and a hobbled and corrupt judiciary provide an optimal dictatorial impetus for bludgeoning executives to rule like monarchs and despots.
As long as politics is dominated by predator élites, it is difficult to see how meaningful democracy or economic development can be sustained.. The challenge facing those who want better governance is how to make those in power accountable and ultimately rescue the state from them to transform it an agency for positive change.
We need a change and that change can start from you.