africa’s democracy bleeds again


The unfolding political events in Zimbabwe is yet another manifestation that Africa’s democracy is again bleeding.

Ours is a continent where democracy is said to be born well before the imperialists stormed the continent, let alone demarcate border lines for their selfish interests. All the democratic structures – kingdoms [mansas], chiefs and village heads – were all in order and functioning democratically – hundreds of years before colonialism and missionarism. Don’t we own the continent where [Egypt] civilization was born, but later stolen from us by our explorers?

Apart from melting away with our natural resources, our colonizers who pretended to be salvaging us, stole our administrative systems and cultures to better shape and restructure their nations. And even hundred years after colonial yokes were loosened from our heads, our continent remains divided along colonial lines. Worst of all is the introduction of neo-colonialism to prevail where imperialism had failed.

At independence, vast majority of Africans thought life would worth salt because we were given the right to control our own affairs. This notion soon turned into a mere fantasy to the extent that some people today prefer colonial rule to bounce back.

The teething question now is: where does the problem lie? Of course, it lies with us simply because we fail our collective responsibilities to give live the real meaning it deserves. Instead of defending our collective interest, Africa still bows down to its former colonial masters who still call the shots from a far away distance.

I am not a fan of fatal political violence in Zimbabwe, but I believe that the Southern African country’s political crisis goes beyond politics. Its leadership is paying the price for its 2002 land redistribution program in which land was seized from the minority whites and given to the landless majority blacks.

Before then, President Robert Mugabe was a darling of the West who was decorated with honorary decrees. Now that he has turned the tide, he becomes the real enemy who they think must be unseated at all costs.

Mr Mugabe’s defence lies on the opposition’s quest to compromise the country’s hard-won liberation ideals by morgaging Zimbabwe to the West who in return bankroll opposition’s campaign to remove him from power. Mugabe should have given chance to one of his party executives to contest with Morgan Tsvangirai. In that case, the damage exercise would have been minimal.

The sporadic withdrawal of Mr Tsvangirai, which was reportedly warranted by the ruling party’s “campaign of terror” marred by killings, beatings and intimidation, has seriously undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic credentials and integrity.

The Zimbabwean situation borrows its leaves from Kenya’s bloody unrest fulled by the East African country’s disputed presidential polls results in December. Rather than amicably seeking redress, the country was soaked into a national crisis that had left its negative marks on life and property. Well, as the going gets tough, politicians realized their mistakes and agreed for a compromise. This gives birth to a unity government. For more than two months, Kenya has been a flurry of diplomatic activities, which later paid off.

Law and order – though fragile – has returned to Kenya, and damaged properties could also be replaced. But not the more than 1,000 innocent lost lives. To cap it all, some politicians are now insisting that the suspects must be given amnesty. Where then lies justice when criminals are allowed to go scot-free in the name of national reconciliation? What is stopping Kenya from administering justice first before reconciliation?

How does the world solve Zimbabwe’s tricky and challenging situation is another food for thought? Will Mugabe be willing to wine and dine with Tsvangirai in the same basin, considering the bad blood between the two camps? The onus to normalize the situation in Zimbabwe rests with Africa. Mugabe’s latest tirades against African leaders for being carried away by Western storm has further complicated the reconciliation issue.

Surely, from Zimbabwe, our lenses will focus on another African country. The ugly trend seems to be a culture in our body politics. African leaders should be brave enough not to go into elections if they will end up in bloodshed.


About musa

I am a Gambian journalist whose mission to use his pen to correct injustice and to tell truth to power was left to bite dust. My newspaper's contents and editorials became "too itchy" that I ended up in Banjul's mosquito-infested cells where I had to cope with three nights of horrendous tortures that left scars all over my body. I was forced to flee into exile with my family, leaving behind my beloved country and editorial desk in the hands of perpetrators. However, unlike most refugees, my two and half years in Senegal was well spent.

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