By Sity Mwitu
Most of the African leaders of the 21st Century are University Graduates with their Masters’ degrees and PhDs obtained not only from their local universities, but also from highly accredited tertiary institutions in both Europe and the USA. Some of them have both public and private professional practices at their hands with enormous years of experience and a record of good performance. But why should such persons end up a disaster to their nations when given the realms of Presidential powers? Why is simple reasoning becoming such a farfetched concept when dealing with issues that affect the common good of our nations today? Is there something wrong with the way institutional powers are framed and correlated to the Executive arm of government especially in most of the African countries?
I am asking all these questions because I fail to understand why simple and common men become so abusive to their own people to the extent of even incurring the loss of lives just to maintain their political power. Is it a confirmation that political power normally blinds or corrupts good leaders or is it just a question of being indifferent because of poverty? The call on the Ivorian President to hand over power makes an interesting case study. These calls are not only coming from the current crop of African leaders, but also from the International community who did not only fail to deal with the Kenyan political crisis, but also the Zimbabwean crisis.
As I was meditating on the Ivoirian happenings, I came across Mr. Nana A.D. Akyeampon’s article posted on ghanaweb.com. I have decided to post his article on ZW because this is exactly what I had on my mind. And the following is Mr. Nana A.D. Akyeampon’s article as was posted on ghanaweb.com:
“A cyclical crisis has raised its ugly head and questioning whether the blacks are truly capable of managing their own affairs without calls from their former Masters pressurizing and calling us to SANITY. With all eyes on Ivory Coast, the world is waiting to see how Africa has matured by way of the lessons learnt from previous electoral conflicts and how those lessons have helped us develop the measures that will ensure that the unreasonable conflicts that have killed and continue to kill thousands upon thousands do not happen again. Have we learnt our lessons? Have we passed the test? Are we truly capable?
I need not repeat the facts here but the bottom line is that the declaration by the Ivorian Independent Electoral commission has been set aside by a constitutional body with a counter declaration. Opposition leader Alassane Ouattara has been denied an obvious win by government functionaries led by allies of Gbagbo. The legitimacy of allegations of fraud are unverifiable but one thing is sure; the body that set aside the declared results headed by a close ally of President Gbagbo, in a typical conflict of interest situation, did the supposed ‘investigations’, passed judgment and declared President Gbagbo the winner based on which results it deemed credible. Electoral commission insists Alassane Ouattara won the elections. Conflict is looming. World leaders are calling on President Gbagbo to hand over.
But why should Gbagbo hand over power, looking over his shoulders to see the sort of dangerous precedents the AU has overseen with the participation of our own Kofi Annan? A viral sickness termed “Power Sharing” is what has plagued Africa. The people of Kenya spent millions of dollars of their tax money to choose whom they wanted for a leader; to choose who had a credible and viable agenda to meet the needs and challenges of a new era. In the end, a delegation of AU led by Mr. Kofi Annan only succeeded with the saddest option that kept rule of law under wraps, rewarded impunity, violence and ‘imposed’ the two men against the clear will of the people. A toothless and helpless AU could not enforce any stringent measure to ensure the sovereign will of the people were respected. The AU should re-orient its agenda, energies and an enforceable legal framework to serve the interest and collective will of the people not the whims and big-for-nothing egos of economically clueless and backward thinking leaders.
A similar AU failure happened in Zimbabwe and as usual, a very predictable ‘solution’ was found; Power Sharing, and one will wonder… now that both opposition and incumbent are ‘in power’ who is checking who? Who is ensuring accountability? In the first place a unity government in itself is an indication of a disunited understanding and cannot, in the long run, work for the good of the people. All it now takes to be in power is ability to gather artilleries, fighting rebels and unreasonable agitations, some sizeable killings to make headlines and for sure, some elders of the continent will trip in to offer the cheapest solutions one can think of. With such a sad expectation in mind why should any ‘smart’, power-drunk leader hand over power? This is the sad reality of African politics today; we have no solid precedents to look up to. The AU has no way of bringing the needed pressure to ensure SANITY in our continental politics. Why should African leaders treat their people this way? After failing to develop sound economic and social policies, after failing to curtail corruption, with no good supply of basic amenities to make life decent enough for the people who made them Lords, our leaders still can’t leave with their booties peacefully and want to leave only after they’ve been begged?
Now since the AU is in no position to get rid of an illegitimate leader, we are rather hoping that Gbagbo will do us a FAVOR, yes A FAVOR out of his ‘mercies’ to listen to his conscience and former colonial masters and probably step down if he wants. Africa, just when will we consider our under-developed state of affairs, return to sanity and concentrate on acts, deeds and nobilities that will bring prosperity and progress to our beautiful land? That our leaders can choose when to listen to sovereign voices of the people. Other potentially unscrupulous leaders are also watching to see what happens; to see how far they can also push their luck the next time they also lose elections. Who will save us from the recurrence of this mess? Can the AU unite and take a coercive stand that can FORCE out illegitimate leaders? Imagine the irony of AU chairman Muamar Gadhafi advising another President to hand over power. Ivoirians should not be robbed of their choice.
If the people of Kenya back then really wanted to have both opposition and incumbent ‘in power’ would they have senselessly spent millions of dollars to go to the polls? Yes the violence was ended (Cheaply) but what of culpability? Did the law take its course to ensure deterrence? What were the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led delegation to ensure such disgraceful and deadly adventures do not recur? Now the chickens are back home to roost as expected! Martin Luther King said Peace is not the absence of tension but the presence of Justice. Though a leader who hands over power needs no thanks from the people, it is such acts as these that seem to make Saints out of Rawlings, Kuffour, and also Mills and Akuffo Addo for responsibly respecting the declaration of the Electoral commission but come 2012 will any power sharing ‘moves’ in Ivory Coast ‘inspire’ any unnecessary agitations?
It’s high time the AU takes its place as a formidably tenacious body proactive enough to be able to ensure strict compliance with the tenets of the founding charter that leaders are accountable to the collective will of the people they claim to serve and put a stop to the cheap sugar-coated superficial solutions they always try to offer but rather develop solid legal framework so we can end these conflicts drawing back our continent. We do not need any power sharing solutions this time, what Africa need from the AU is precedent of principle and leadership, restoration of law and order, enthroning the sovereign will and choice of the people, stimulating thorough investigations and bringing to justice anyone who has played any role in this attempt to thwart and subvert the people’s choice so a clear message can be sent to any other leader harboring such ambitions”. This was Mr. Nana A.D. Akyeampon’s opinion on the Ivorian crisis.
While Mr. Akyeampon may be right in his own opinion to appeal to Mr. Gbagbo to step down or appeal to the AU to use any means to make Mr. Gbagbo step down, what we must remember is that we are now living in a global village whereby whatever happens in your neighbour’s house is automatically either imported or exported into your own house. The case of Tunisia vise vie Egypt serves the case. Therefore, the Ivorian crisis is not an isolated case per se. For this reason, the concept of the rights of a sovereignty state to deal with its own political problems is slowly disappearing as the world edges towards the New World Order. In yester year’s schools, social, economic, religious and political problems were peculiar to a particular nation and its people, but today’s global trends affect every nation in this global village. A good example is that of the Russian era of the glasnost and perestroika, the USA’s era of internet, the Afghanistan’s era of terrorism and China’s era of counterfeit products. Hence, today’s problems that affect nations can no longer be treated with a single approach. They require a multifaceted approach to deal with, which is the gist of the Obama Presidency’s style of global governance and leadership in the 21st century.
Therefore, it was surprising to note that a number of African countries including Kenya’s Raila Odinga stood up and told Mr. Gbagbo to step down. Was he using Mr. Gbagbo as a dummy for Mr. Mwai Kibaki? The appointment of Mr. Raila Odinga to mediate in the Ivorian crisis was done in bad faith. It was also surprising to read that the Zambian President Mr. Rupiah Banda (RB) even held talks with Mr. Guillaume Soro, the Prime Minister from the other Ivorian government of Mr. Alassane Ouattara. Is Zambia’s democracy credible enough to support and affirm Mr. Alassane Ouattara’s political position? It is well known fact that Zambia has been, from 1972 to November 1991, under one party dictatorship during the reign of Dr. Kaunda. Dr. Kaunda’s trait of leadership, typical of an African President wanting to stay in power forever, is what is causing too much bloodshed on the African continent today. There are very few African countries whose President left their office gracefully rather than being forced out of their office. This is what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt. In Zambia it took the people in the form of MMD to remove Dr. Kaunda “Wamu ya ya ya”. Dr. FTJ Chiluba wanted to go for third term in 2001, but the people stopped him. From the time Dr. FTJ Chiluba, who first proclaimed himself as a political engineer to a political consultant to the MMD to date, Zambia’s elections have been synonymous with electoral fraud and rigging, the Zambian President has always been elected as a minority President, the call for 50+1 has always been rejected. The Wila Mun’ngomba Constitution Review Commission, which was an initiative of the late President Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa but now gathering dust under the realm of RB, that galloped billions of Kwacha, which would have been used to develop the current social infrastructure instead of using loans borrowed for political expediency, will never see its light in 2011. It was therefore shocking for the Zambian President to sympathize with Mr. Alassane Ouattara on his personal and political rights’ infringement by Mr. Gbagbo by holding talks with Mr. Guillaume Soro whose is Mr. Alassane Ouattara’s Prime Minister when he Mr. RB trumped on the rights of helpless and hopeless people of Barotseland when they tried to voice their own infringed rights. Just as Mr. Odinga’s counsel did not bear any fruit, so will Mr. RB’s counsel. All that Mr. Gbagbo is telling the world amidst fierce condemnation of sorts is that he cannot be a lesser demon than his colleagues in the likes Mr. Mwai Kibaki and Mr. Robert Mugabe. If the international community as well as the AU and some African leaders failed to use force to remove Mr. Mwai Kibaki and Mr. Robert Mugabe when the need arose, why should they use force on him? Mr. Gbagbo is willing to step down if Mr. Mwai Kibaki and Mr. Robert Mugabe stepped down first. Therefore, before any measures or means are used or applied to remove Mr. Gbagbo from power by force, the same should first be applied to Mr. Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and Mr. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. While two wrongs do not make a right, the Ivorian crisis is an imported political product from both Kenya and Zimbabwe. If the brick making machine is fault, do work on the bricks, but just repair the machine. The political power sharing manufacturing machine of Kenya and Zimbabwe are exporting harmful political products that are not fit for human governance to other vulnerable African countries. The Ivorian crisis is really a taste of failure for most African leaders that are university graduates.