Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Some African Leaders Worse Than Colonisers

Gift Ngobeni

Fromer DJ, Andry Rajoelina, ousted Marc Ravalomanana
with the assistance of Madagascar's military.
African states often celebrate independence and leaders would often go on about how much of a milestone and an achievement it was for colonisers to leave the continent, but is there much to celebrate when leaders abuse their people, never hold elections in certain countries, rig them in others and refuse to accept defeat in some.

All this has led to Africa being a continent of mediation processes that often take more than a long time to complete – lately it’s no longer mediation processes as in some countries citizens have decided they will fight for their freedom and a better standard of living. A few examples where this has taken place would be Madagascar, Libya, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Sudan, Tunisia and lately Malawians seem to be testing President Bingu wa-Mutharika or His Excellency, the president, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika as radio reports refer to him in Malawi.

Former colonisers probably look at the continent and smile as those they used as servants kill each other and show a massive lack of leadership skills.

The countries I mentioned also tried to bring about stability, change and restore order in a form of unitary government. Some have opted for a transitional government, now let’s start by defining what a transitional government means, according to the dictionary, a transitional government is temporary, or in the process of changing from one situation, form, or state to another. Temporary in Africa seems to be a full presidential term as it is the case in Kenya and Zimababwe. In those countries there seem to be some under-handedness that goes on as those who refused to accept defeat in the past do all in their power to try and discredit the rightful winners of the elections and there have been talks of elections there, but it would not be for the benefit of the countries’ citizens as all the leaders want is to remove the other party so they can return to their corrupt ways.

In Zimbabwe, the USAID reported that ZANU-PF has been in office with unfettered power since 1980. The country is currently going through discussions of signing a new constitution as the old one seems to please ZANU-PF more than the other parties. These talks have not gone smoothly as public meetings would often be interrupted by rowdy crowds or the parties involved would just not agree on anything. The current Constitution of Zimbabwe signed in 1979, known as the Lancaster Constitution, has been amended 19 times with severe implications in some instances for the Bill of Rights. Numerous laws and policies have been issued at different intervals, all aimed at curtailing the operating space for NGOs and CSOs.

The signing of the Inter Party Agreement in September 2008 and the formation of the inclusive transitional government in February 2009 heralded a slightly new political system, but it doesn’t seem like it’s a system that would work in the long run as those sharing power don’t seem to get along and the forced marriage has had at least one party threatening divorce and the other complaining of cheating.

The downfall of the 74-year-old Ben Ali, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1987, may serve as a warning to other autocratic leaders in the Arab world, thereafter other countries like Egypt and lately Libya followed in Arab North Africa.

In Madagascar; ousted former president, Marc Ravalomanana, is set to return to the beleaguered country for negotiations of new elections to be held within a year. This comes after Ravalomanana was forcefully removed from power by a young DJ, Andry Rajoelina, with the help of the country’s military. One would surely hope this marriage will work and Rojoelina will not use under-handedness to get Ravalomanana back in the country so he can arrest him as he had threatened to in the past.

In fact on 19 September 2011 Reuters reported that Justice Minister, Christine Razanamahasoa had threatened Ravalomanana’s arrest should he return from exile in South Africa. Should this be true than it would mean another mediation process that will not bear fruit or take longer than it should on the continent as those who have stolen power refuse to do what’s best for citizens they claim to represent.

In neighbouring Swaziland the last remaining absolute monarch, King Mswati II, has spent the money that belongs to his subjects and thrown that country into economic breakdown and the government can no longer pay civil servants, including teachers and university staff, and many have downed tools as a result. He went to the International Monetary Fund for another loan but they refused saying he failed to implement fiscal reforms requested and then he received a huge loan from South Africa. Swaziland is one of the poorest nations in the world but the King and his family continue to drive lavish cars and the wives still go on European shopping sprees and his children in expensive British universities. Recently he wanted to take about fifty people to the British royal wedding and was refused by the Brits. Despite this lavish and expensive ceremonies such as the Reed Dance are held every year.

It's in Swaziland where the leader must either be forced to step down or have political reforms rather than a government filled with the King Mswati's family members and close friends. Swazi TV even had a story of the ruler giving ousted Libya president, Mouammar Gaddafi, a medal to show that in Africa human rights abusers are often in good company.

The African Union often says African solutions are needed on the continent, but these solutions come at a cost as leaders fighting to stay or return to power often neglect to serve citizens of some of the world’s poorest nations. The future of Africa doesn’t look bright at all if there are still leaders who threaten to arrest others rather than doing what is right even if that wouldn’t suit them.

African leaders should never celebrate independence as some are as bad as former colonisers if not worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment