Wednesday, February 3, 2010

African leaders must intervene on the region’s dictators

I cringe with disgust that in the 21st Century, some African leaders are still buoyed in the myopic craving to retain power, influence while their citizens continue to live in agony. Their selfish craving has soiled the Continent’s global reputation. That is why I concur with the Buddhist wisdom that, life’s suffering is as a result of the inclinations to all forms of selfish craving. We can’t hide our faces wherever we go as Africans. In a recent security check in a European airport, on seeing my Passport, the security officer asked me about the status of the violence in Kenya , I lacked the words; the horror they saw in their media will take long to change their mindset about our Country. They think Kenyans are killing each other to date. How long shall we continue being labelled as a Continent littered with civil strife, injustices, greedy, dictatorship, indecisiveness, ethnicity, corruption and authoritarianism? Indeed, we want to be respected globally. Africa needs leaders with the perspicacity to nurture a dynamic political culture that is open, accommodative and just in order to enhance our reputation at home and abroad. What boggles the minds of many people is how long it will take the Continent to produce a leader with Nelson Mandela’s calibre whom even after serving a jail term of 27 years; defied greed for power and ruled for only one term. He will leave an indelible mark in the annals of history as an African President who had the capacity to cling to power with less criticism and even declare himself life President for the prize he paid during the freedom struggle, but did not do it. In contrast to Mandela’s selflessness, in a recent speech delivered in Uganda by the Libyan leader Muammar Gadhaffi, he asked African leaders especially revolutionaries not to relinquish power when their Countries are doing well. This was a mockery to democracy and the most irrelevant statement from a leader who is the chief architect for the United States of Africa. Indeed, if this is the ideology Gadhaffi wants to advance under the aegis of an African political federation, it clearly demonstrates his dictatorial leadership, imperial and life presidency. The speech was made before President Museveni; a revolutionary himself and also remembered for changing the constitution that allowed him to seek for another term in office, contrary to popular opinion in Uganda . I challenge Gadhaffi to tell Mugabe to quit because the Country is not doing well and many Zimbabweans are suffering under his dubious policies while Mugabe continues to live in material opulence. Gadhaffi’s advocacy for an African federation is uncalled for. What the Continent requires is an integration that will enhance the quality of life for our people especially on the economic social and cultural spheres. The challenge remains on Countries with mature democratic discourses like South Africa , Botswana , and Ghana to take the lead in denouncing Mugabe’s hold on power. Being silent about Mr. Mugabe is justifying his actions; a tragedy for the growth of democracy in Africa . I differ with the South African President, Tabo Mbeki’s comment in New York , USA that the Zimbabwean situation is not a crisis. How is it not a crisis when people voted for change a month a go and up to now, the Electoral Commission in the Country has not announced the results? This is the clearest indication that Mugabe wants a loophole to retain himself in power against the popular will of Zimbabweans. Mbeki lost the African National Congress (ANC) leadership to Jacob Zuma and handed over honourably. He didn’t cling on the party leadership. That is why; I strongly support Kenya ’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s bold idea for African leaders to face Mugabe head-on and force him to quit office. Good leaders must focus on what the World shall remember them for when they pass on. Relinquishing authority when there is stability in their Countries is of greater importance. Those who quit when their countries are smouldering like Charles Taylor will never enjoy their pension on retirement. No indication that Robert Mugabe will enjoy his retirement neither. He is perhaps waiting to hear gunshots and see blood before calling it quits. The yesteryears of Mobutu, Idi Amin, Samwel Doe, Bokasa, Charles Taylor, San Abacha and the current leadership styles of Gadhafi of Libya, Elbashir of Sudan, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Museveni of Uganda and Mubarak of Egypt are open tragedies for the growth of democracy in Africa . Their dictatorial leaderships past and present never end well including those of their counterparts in Europe like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini of Germany and Italy respectively. We want an African leadership devoid of the big man syndrome. Leaders prone to administration malpractices must undergo mass condemnation and be isolated. We need to show the World that in the 21st Century, we have leaders who can rekindle the hopes of our people. This is the surest way of dispelling the notion from the developed World that Africa cannot handle its challenges. Joseph Lister Nyaringo United Kingdom
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