Friday, February 19, 2016

Corruption, intimidation and opposition harassment: the story of African politics

Sometimes I am tempted to think that Africa is a country as some ignorant people have implied. Seriously. Because, my continent seems to produce pathological power hungry, corrupt, greedy and forever-cling-unto-power dictators.
This post is both personal and emotional for me. I feel dejected and despaired.
It is wide knowledge that Robert Mugabe  has degraded and diminished opposition leaders and parties in  Zimbabwe through systemic violence, intimidation, abduction and murder. The last two elections were; not free and fair and cleverly stolen respectively.
South Africa has a President who has the nerve to stand in front of parliament and declare that he is doing an impeccable job leading a country which is in turmoil because his government is not addressing real economic and social challenges faced by the majority in that country. For example tertiary education costs which disenfranchises black people.
Surely you cannot be doing an excellent job when all we see are protests, and court proceedings just to get you to admit that you should pay back state funds that were improperly used to build a swimming pool and cattle kraal at your rural home Mr President (in addition to various other personal mansions - allegedly)
Oh and it is also in South Africa where the police used live ammunition to shoot hungry and overworked miners in Marikana. Their crime, exercising their constitutional right to protest unfair working conditions. All under Zuma's reign.
In Burundi we have a mischievous President who vowed to fight African Union peacekeeping troops who are supposed to go in and protect civilians from brutal violence and terror from home grown warring factional terrorists. Like who does that? Really?All you care about is power not people's lives? Well here is a little reality check Mr President, a state leader is supposed to lead and protect his people, not to preside over their brutal murder.
Now in Uganda we have a shambolic election taking place. Opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye was arrested the day before elections when he tried to address a rally in Kampala. In this day and age. If that is not intimidation then what is it?
Why does President Yoweri Museveni deploy heavily armed military and police personnel on election day and have them harassing and beating civilians instead of just maintaining order?? As a sitting President of course Museveni has control of the state security apparatus therefore it is obvious on whose orders they are acting.
Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe's sexually transmitted power is wrecking havoc. It is not possible to end this post without referring to the theatrical performances being displayed by the first lady of Zimbabwe who has taken it upon herself that she should control all government (Zanu pf) organs. Why does Grace Mugabe imply that she has power to control sitting vice Presidents. On what basis does she have this authority. Using which constitution?
Grace Mugabe, as chair of Zanu pf women's league, is holding more rallies than any other past chair of the league.
I am shocked at the First lady's privilege; to hold a rally and use it as a public showdown platform to air her discontent at those gossiping about her. Really? In a country where millions are starving and virtually all public service is almost coming to a standstill. Someone is running around chiding political gossipers and claiming she has the power to control everyone in government because she sleeps beside the President. I am sure you can see why I am despaired.
I could go on and on about the dark side of African politics but I just want to end this post with a wish. Or rather wishes.
I wish that the superpowers would stop being superficial in their helping to address politics and power related problems in Africa especially in Zimbabwe. The European Union must do Zimbabweans a favour and stop cosying up to Zimbabwean regime (maybe they are doing so because of the diamonds)
Lastly, the USA and its aid money must make its priorities right when it comes to helping Africans overcome dictatorships in Africa. It takes more than just Secretary Kelly calling Museveni on the phone to call for the release of Dr Kizza Besigye who was unashamedly incarcerated on election day - a popular intimidation gimmick by sitting presidential candidates in Africa. I know that one too well, I come from Zimbabwe remember.
The US could for instance use its aid money to help Africans create state-of-art electronic voting systems to prevent or reduce electoral theft. Because, unless that is done, Africa will continue to produce dictators and they will always continue to hide behind the I-was-constitutionally-elected-by-the people' finger.
Empowering people with constitutional means and power to freely choose leaders of their choice, and to have the power to remove dictators, will go a long way in dealing with political and electoral fraud in Africa.
I applaud the US's efforts to channel more resources towards AIDS and gender related issues but we must realise that without the rule of law and freedom of the judicial (two main characteristics of dictatorships) it is impossible to attain gender justice. Therefore it is not possible to have an independent and functional justice system. The impediment of justice in general is a breeding ground for gender injustice. - as a feminist I have to include this last point as it is very critical and very personal to me.
Just saying.



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