Democracy—that system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives—is presently facing a real test in Africa.
What with the just ended elections in Rwanda, where incumbent President Paul Kagame got a landslide victory? As for Kenya, their General Election was more interesting and grabbed global attention.
Uhuru Kenyatta won the elections by obtaining 54 per cent of the votes against nearly 45 per cent of his rival Raila Odinga, according to results beamed by the electoral body, IEBC.
Raila’s camp, though, has cried foul claiming election rigging. It even asked the IEBC to declare its candidate, Raila, new president. As such, tension remains high in the East African nation.
What with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni now that he has just ‘discovered’ that he will turn 74 in 2021 meaning he that he won’t be 77 years old, an age above the set age limit for contesting for presidency?
And, what with the situation back home (Tanzania) where political parties have been banned from undertaking rallies—their key business as per the constitution?
In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma faced a no confidence vote in Parliament. He had survived seven similar votes before, but they were open. This time around, MPs did cast secret ballots. He escaped again!
Look at the DRC. President Joseph Kabila continues to cling to power even beyond the term limit as stipulated in their constitution, the very one he swore to protect!
I’m confused. What is this thing called ‘democracy’ really? Is it the same in every country? How much has ‘democracy’ helped the common man in Africa see the value of his vote?
If some leaders take matters into their own hands and do whatever they want regardless of what the constitutions say … what is this thing called democracy? Do our votes mean anything at all?
Abraham Lincoln says: “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
But, I don’t see this insight being respected in Africa. The examples above elaborate that elections in Africa don’t belong to the people. And, when leaders violate articles and clauses stipulated in their countries’ constitutions, they are oppressing their own people. It does not matter whether these people raise protesting voices or not.
And as such, it might be wise to listen to Malcom X’s words: “The only way we’ll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba -- yes Cuba too.”
My question to leaders in Africa: why do you find it so hard to learn from Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and Kenneth Kaunda?