Africa’s tales that make sad reading

Democracy is under attack. In Zimbabwe it is two weeks after the General Election and presidential results are yet to be released.

Mr Robert Mugabe, in power for 28 years, is staying put. There are indications he lost, but not overwhelmingly to avoid a re-run. Electoral officials have been arrested for ‘under-counting’ Mugabe’s votes. Like Kenya in January, the captains of the disputing parties are queuing to address a regional summit. Even without the results the ruling party, Zanu-PF is preparing for a re-run.

War veterans are being mobilised. Mugabe is on record saying his main opponent will not rule Zimbabwe and it appears he is making it happen in his lifetime.

The poor nation, whose life expectancy has dropped from 60 to 35 under Mugabe’s stewardship, is on the edge. If, like Kenya, the muted protests implode, it will be another sad tale from Africa — the land cast by the West as the refuge of poverty, disease and pestilence.

In Kenya an international commission is about to probe the country’s disputed elections that led to killings, displacements and destruction.

The country is operating with a half-Cabinet. Disagreements over forced power sharing have slowly driven the country back to the anxious and worrisome mood.

In the last four years Africa has had about 50 elections but many have been subject of ridicule. In Nigeria results were declared for some of the states where voting did not take off. Candidates were knocked off the ballot papers and in some cases the papers were printed in party offices.

The sad tale of mismanaged elections was reported in the Congo, Ethiopia, Togo, and Uganda where the president cunningly had the constitutional term limit extended. Last month Mr Yoweri Museveni received Africa’s king of personalised and uncontested rule for decades, Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi. He came with the message the East African should plan to rule for life.

Africa is home to Mr Omar Bongo, the world’s longest serving leader, following Cuba’s Fidel Castro’s recent resignation. The majority of the people of Gabon, where life expectancy compares well with Mugabe’s, have known no other leader.

In three African countries, including Egypt and Gabon, the leaders are preparing their sons to take over power.

Apart from South Africa, the imperialistic tendencies of African leaders are soaring to a new old-time high. Africa’s biggest challenge in the 21st century revolves around democracy, elections and good governance. The three concepts are prerequisites for progress, stability, peace and respect for human rights.

They are the tools with which the continent can cut off the shackles on its feet, frustrating her from walking towards a new dawn.

Independence was the first, but warmer and rewarding days for the continent lie in the future. Not with the decadence, inept leadership and bankrupt morals all around.

"Election rigging and brigandage, violence and election annulment are common practices… Elections in their current form in most African states appear to be a fading shadow of democracy, endangering the fragile democratic project itself,’’ a Nigerian professor recently wrote.

It is time the continent drew wisdom from South Africa’s President, Thabo Mbeki’s speech at African Union’s inaugural conference in Durban in 2002: "This is a moment of hope for our continent and its peoples. The time has come to end the marginalisation of Africa … through our actions, let us proclaim to the world that this is a continent of democracy, a continent of democratic institutions and culture. Indeed, a continent of good governance where the people participate and the rule of law is upheld."

For we have sunk so low.

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