So, yet another African country has fallen to military rule!
This time around – in apparent quick succession of one African government after another, particularly in the Western region – it was Burkina Faso, whereby the military detained president Roch Marc Christian Kabore, dissolved the government and national assembly, and suspended the constitution on 24 January 2022.
Other African countries that have also sadly fallen foul of their own military commanders in recent times include, Chad, Mali, Guinea, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.
However, why is this trend seemingly rearing its ugly head again, and becoming ever more prevalent on the continent – a disturbing phenomenon that had tragically been all too familiar some decades ago, but had apparently abated?
As a matter of fact, scenes from these countries appear to show a population most welcoming and jubilant of these gun-weilding camouflaged generals – as if some form of saviors and Prince Charmings, who had heard the cries of the people, and rode in just in time to save them from the menacing brutal jaws of monstrous leaders.
We, in Zimbabwe, were not spared these most unfortunate scenes either – which we shockingly watched, in utter amazement, in November 2017, as thousands flocked the streets of the capital Harare, endearingly embracing soldiers, and having selfies taken with them – in the midst of the ousting of long-term tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who had ruled the country with an iron fist since independence in 1980.
As much as tens of thousands of Sudanese bravely protested and resisted the military takeover by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on 25 October 2021, with the subsequent arrest of prime minister Abdalla Hamdok – the same people had, however, not hesitated in expressing wild enthusiastic transports of joy, after the same generals overthrew then president Omar al-Bashir two years earlier, on 11 April 2019, as a result of months of demonstrations against his ruthless war-mongering government.
As I write this article, reports are trickling in from Guinea Bissau – in which, the president Sissoco Embalo is said to have survived an attempted coup d’etat.
This, whilst another Guinea (Conakry) witnessed the capture of its president, Alpha Condé, on 5 September 2021, and ousted by Colonel Mamadou Doumbouya.
I could say that (especially in the case of Zimbabwe) these military takeovers were merely a case of what good old William Shakespeare referred to, in Hamlet, as such regimes simply being hoisted with own beastly petard – since these power-hungry dictators had used the same militaries, which were supposed to be professional and apolitical, as sadistic tools for brutal repression.
Indeed, there could be some truths in this – nonetheless, the major reason why thousands of people so erroneously, but jubilantly, welcomed such brazenly unconstitutional intervention by those carrying guns, in effecting illegal regime change, was the apparent oppressive tendencies by those in the ruling elite, who had turned the lives of their own citizenry into a living hell.
Yet, the continent – through its African Union (AU), and various regional bodies – rather chose to look aside, and turn a deaf ear, to the repeated cries by these marginalized and alienated people, who suffered indescribable poverty, and lack of civil rights, at the hands of regimes that were only concerned about their own power ambitions and self-aggrandizement.
As much as these organizations have always been on record condemning coup d’etats – even imposing sanctions on any such military juntas – the truth of the matter is that, this disingenuous action is quite frankly a bit too little too late, as the best approach would have been to act against these ruthless oppressive regimes before soldiers decided to take matters into their own hands.
We have heard the people of countries as Zimbabwe continue to cry out at the unending immeasurable suffering and impoverishment they endure on a daily basis – whilst their leaders loot, with repulsive abundance, the nation’s vast resources, and brutally repress any who may dare speak out – yet, both the AU, or Southern African Development Community (SADC) behave as if nothing untoward is taking place within their midst.
What are they waiting for?
Another coup d’etat, or civil unrest – then, they are shocked into action, as if they never saw this coming?
Let us remember that, military coups, or civil unrest have never solved any of these countries’ problems – in fact, have only worsened already dire situations – but, the people would have felt abandoned, hopeless, and helpless, thus regarding anyone who comes along to rid them of the authors of their pain, as messiahs.
…even if they turn out to be no better, if not worse!
Let us never forget that, these military generals are not saints, and do not carry out these coups out of the love of the people – but, simply for their own selfish agendas.
The same scenario pertains to the increase of terrorist activity on the continent – in such countries as Nigeria, Somalia, and Mozambique – where insurgents have taken advantage of the populations’ state-sponsored subjugation and poverty, to radicalize them into nefarious activities, that only serve self-seeking agendas.
Similarly, the AU and respective regional bodies, never took any substantive action against their fellow national leaders, whose economic mismanagement and kleptomaniac tendencies caused the suffering, in the first place.
Africa now imperatively needs continental and regional organizations that are proactive and people-centered – as opposed to the current “leaders’ club” tag – and, cease standing with, and defending ruthless corrupt tyrants, but support the ordinary citizenry, without fear or favour.
Only then, can Africa change, and shake off, its distasteful and shameful image of being a continent of coups and terrorism.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com