Gambia, DRC: Why, but why Africa?

Events unfolding in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Gambia bear sad testament of the grotesque record of governance that has become a trademark of African States and their leaders. GUEST COLUMNIST LEARNMORE ZUZE

Source: Gambia, DRC: Why, but why Africa? – NewsDay Zimbabwe January 3, 2017

The world, today, watches with indignation as armed forces massacre innocent civilians justly protesting against incumbent DRC President Joseph Kabila, whose mandate to rule expired in November. For nearly 10 years, the DRC has been an electoral democracy, a fragile and dysfunctional one, but an electoral democracy nonetheless.

The 45-year-old Kabila has typically continued to shove election dates further in the wake of a disgruntled nation, igniting bloody protests in the process.

On the other extreme, the world watches repugnantly as headstrong Gambian President Yahya Jammeh unabashedly insists on clinging to power despite losing a presidential poll and admitting defeat in the beginning. Jammeh, in his vindictiveness, has recalled Gambia’s ambassador to the United States for asking him to concede defeat.

Africa is characterised by nascent democracy and each time that defeat is gracefully accepted it calls for celebration.

The African leader, somehow, has to be inveigled to leave power; something they cannot do without high-pressure methods.

To incumbents, it would appear they are cut to rule forever and anything that threatens their hold on power has to be crushed ruthlessly.

Many will remember the adulation that followed former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan when, without much hemming and hewing, he accepted loss and congratulated Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015.

Under normal circumstances, this should not be something to write home about; it should be the natural path of democracy. Praises were, expectedly, showered on Jonathan who, despite numerous failures, will have this pleasant act of statesmanship etched in people’s memories for ages.

African leaders have yet to learn the noble art of relinquishing power and, above all, to understand that someone else can take a country forward.

As a general fact, African States that can presently be described in the language of democracy still number in the minority.

It is as if to say the archaic monarchical system of governance exists in a thinly veiled form in Africa. The chief disappointment with most African leaders is their failure to leave power in an agreeable manner.

A myriad of theories exist as to why most African leaders cannot leave power in an acceptable way.

Somehow, these leaders, insist on obstinacy and, sadly, live to face inglorious and humiliating exits which all but obliterate the little good they would have done for their countries.

Ivory Coast former President Laurent Gbagbo is a classic example of a man who stubbornly held on to power to a point where he had to be apprehended and harangued like a criminal in a hotel.

The same is true for slain Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi (although some would disagree) who was severely assaulted and dragged by the public in the streets and his mutilated body paraded in the open. Mobutu Sese Seko of the DRC and Uganda’s third President Idi Amin also make the ill-reputed list of African leaders who had to leave power through mutiny.

The common factor in the fracas stifling African growth across many of its States is anchored in the wanton disregard of constitutions by leaders who, ironically, should serve as custodians of the very constitutions.

Cling–on African leaders have characteristically proffered all manner of excuse to hold on to power. The most common ones being that “the people still want me to rule” and “no one can lead this nation better.”

This political grandstanding is quite laughable seeing as it is that most African economies crumble in the hands of such headstrong leaders. Despite much showboating by such leaders on the global stage, their people are virtually everywhere in the world living a life of near-servitude as they seek greener pastures in other States.

Inanely, they claim that the people still love them. It is a given that any President, upon assuming office is energetic and eager to have wheels turning and that is perfectly normal but the question comes: honestly, what new thing does a leader who has been in office for two or three decades have to offer?

How much innovation is to be expected from such a leader? Just like in recognised democracies, ten years is quite a long time to be ruling a country. Beyond the first 10 years, it is inevitable: arrogance, a sense of nation-ownership, corruption, nepotism and similar vices set in.

There is surely nothing good that comes out of more than ten years of sitting in power except abuse of power. It is quite disconcerting that this is Africa’s horrendous story of governance.

The most perturbing fact is the indifference exhibited by leaders while innocent people die as they cling onto power. It won’t surprise if Gambian President — Yahya Jammeh — will carelessly put up a fight that will result in a needless loss of lives.

It behoves African leadership to take a cue from the developed world where a single country can boast of a 16th President. Again, one wonders, why, but why Africa? Is the famine, droughts and diseases ravaging the continent not enough? Should it always take the bullet to usher in new leadership?

Dictatorship and autocracy must fall and a new Africa grounded in true democracy and free will of the masses must be born.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 9
  • comment-avatar
    Joe Cool 5 years ago

    Here’s your answer: democracy is alien to African culture. When you are the chief, you remain the chief. Who would be dumb enough to support a system whereby you can be voted out of being the chief?

    But they pretend to support democracy, because that’s where the access to foreign hand-outs is to be found.

    But the real villains are those who continue to provide the hand-outs and pretend that they don’t see that the democracy is a sham. These are the hypocrites who should know better, unlike the disguised dictators who are just doing what comes natural.

    Hope this tells you what you wanted to know.

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    This is known as Command Democracy and is supported and perfected by Zanu – and has been for the last 37 years.

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    Ndonga 5 years ago

    Why? but why Africa?

    The more that I travel and the older I get I am beginning to accept that there is something seriously wrong in our African psychological make up that makes us blindly and silently accept serious wrongdoing from our leaders, without speaking out.

    Not that we are cowards. We are more like the sheep that the biblical prophet Isaiah spoke of…

    “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)”.

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    African Leaders stay in power because they can enrich themselves often at the expense of everyone else, becoming President in Africa is not about helping the Nation move forward, its not altruistic in any sense of the word, its a purely selfish decision and so long as a population who are unable to unite continue, then nothing will change. Zimbabwe has an armed forces of over 300000, purely and simply to control the population, but if 14,000,000 people can’t overturn 30000, then it must come down to lack of desire or cowardice. At the moment the proposed NTA, can be the only way forward, otherwise the Army Chiefs will continue to rule the roost. They must be muzzled first. But is Zimbabwe man enough to do that?
    In America the Right to Bear Arms gives the final Power to The People and the Right to stand up against an Army.

    In Zimbabwe ‘Man is born free but everywhere is in chains’

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      Kevin 5 years ago

      In an earlier post I noted your naivety. It shines through again. You have clearly never fired an automatic weapon had one fired at you or actually been in an armed conflict situation. If over a million trained soldiers in the Iraqi Army couldn’t stop the US military walking all over them, a few civilians with no training would not stop the US military. So the Second Amendment of the US Constitution is of no value in the modern world. If you seriously think that Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and their colleagues could have imagined an automatic weapon or the modern state you are not only naive but educationally challenged. Their idea was to stop a British invasion in the days before the US had a standing army and weapons were muzzle loaders.

      • comment-avatar
        Joe Cool 5 years ago

        I think you got it wrong too, Kevin. The US Second Amendment was enacted to protect individual states against the possibility of a rogue Federal Government. Stick to our problems here and don’t worry about the US army.

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        Actually I have Kevin. And Joe Cool is right. The point was not to compare the US and Zimbabwe but bearing arms in the US is a symbol of an individuals right to protect himself . The problem with you is that you have cherry picked one sentence and used it as your subject matter. Instead of discussing the broader matter at hand.. How to rid us of the ‘Dictator’.
        Zimbabwe will continue as is, unless people UNITE behind the one cause necessary for our freedom instead of delving into comments and dabbling in semantics.
        As soon as someone steps forward whose only agenda is to serve the best interests of all the people instead of self agrandizzement then and only then will Zimbabwe be on the right path. The NTA proposes such which is why they are the only logical solution. The problem is that people suspect them because they don’t have a political agenda, which is just the most stupid reason I can think of. But then that’s my country, a Nation filled with stupid people.

      • comment-avatar

        Actually I have Kevin. And Joe Cool is right. The point was not to compare the US and Zimbabwe but bearing arms in the US is a symbol of an individuals right to protect himself . The problem with you is that you have cherry picked one sentence and used it as your subject matter. Instead of discussing the broader matter at hand.. How to rid us of the ‘Dictator’.
        Zimbabwe will continue as is, unless people UNITE behind the one cause necessary for our freedom instead of delving into comments and dabbling in semantics.
        As soon as someone steps forward whose only agenda is to serve the best interests of all the people instead of self agrandizzement then and only then will Zimbabwe be on the right path. The NTA proposes such which is why they are the only logical solution. The problem is that people suspect them because they don’t have a political agenda, which is just the most stupid reason I can think of.

  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 5 years ago

    The problem we have is that we Africans want to be living like our Western counterparts and boast more about what we have than what we can give.
    A glaring example being our farms pre invasion. The farms catered for the workers . They received education ,health services and other services. Come post farm invasions all was destroyed. Irrespective of the political interference was that necessary? A big No.
    Our leaders are for one tribalistic, rascist and very egotistic. If the dark ages existed in Europe those many years ago , Africa is still going through that period now before the Enlightenment period begins.
    We need young leaders today, not geriatric monolistic egotistic sadistic people only interested in their own continued existence.