The African continent has for ages been referred to as the continent of disease, darkness, despair and death besides the description as the land of backwardness. All these have been as a result of the myriad problems and challenges that we have experienced and witnessed many of which we have been unable to come up with viable and amicable solutions. Although some of the problems experienced in Africa are unintended, a good number of them are due to the weak and retrogressive form of leadership that we have gone through over the decades of the African independence.
A pertinent question that we ought to ask our inner-selves is why majority of the African countries are not taking-off economically despite formulating economic plans and strategies that have always given hope to the masses about the expected and foreseen socio-economic heaven in the name of development. The failure to make great strides and tangible efforts in the trio-developmental aspects of politics, social issues and economic issues can be clearly traced to the inept kind of leadership that has and continues to bedevil most of the African nations.
It should be taken into account, however, that some of the African countries have at least had a paradigm shift in the manner in which they have re-approached their governance systems. In enacting their turn-around governance strategies, they have resolved most importantly to deal with the cancerous issue of graft. Such notable countries include Botswana under the leadership of President Khama Ian Khama, the one and only chief of the Bamangwato people and Rwanda under President Paul Kagame. Albeit other challenges, these countries have dealt with corruption and have hence witnessed a significant reduction of it within their borders.
There is certainly a lesson to be learnt and a leaf to be borrowed from such countries. I have a strong conviction and an undying belief that once corruption is checked and reduced to very minimal levels then development will spawn. If the top leadership shows commitment in fighting graft then majority of the patriotic citizens will join in the movement to stem out corruption. In my own opinion, we cannot expect to wipe out the juggernaut that is corruption from the bottom. Instead I advocate that a top-bottom approach is suitable whereby the leaders at the helm of the government lead the onslaught against corruption.
The existence of pariah states and banana republics in Africa can also be attributed to the ethnic divisions that are practiced by most of the African leaders. To be specific, negative ethnicity was the root cause of the violence witnessed in South Sudan from December 2013 pitting the Dinka and the Nuer communities. This was the factor that escalated the post-election violence that was witnessed in Kenya in 2007/08. We claim to be patriots living and belonging to one nation but when a tribe is mentioned somewhere we feel uncomfortable with frowning faces all over. If we embrace our ethnic differences positively, then we are sure of forging ahead as a united Africa. Leaders should never ever jeopardize unity by uttering ethnic sentiments that are directed towards segregating one ethnic group against the other.
The incorrigible and illiberal mindsets of most of the leaders and their sycophants continue to dent the progress of Africa towards greatness and prosperity. In countries that have embraced democracy, why should one person mutilate the constitution for him to continue exercising his ruling? Or why should people engage in rigging to continue staying in power? Or worst of it all, why should an individual master-mind the assassination of his antagonist so as to cut-off political competition? All the preceding rhetorical questions simply connote the utmost disregard of the democratic principles that the ‘democratic’ governments purport to champion and support. The pretence that some African countries practice democracy is the nightmare that continues to eclipse our progress and falsify our actions of realizing a brighter future. If democracy has failed, why don’t we come up with alternative forms of governance that will clip the possible dictatorial wings and tendencies and create an environment where all the citizens are assured of progress socially, politically and economically?
The future of Africa lies in our own hands. The future of our continent has always been labeled as being bright. Despite Africa registering an annual economic growth of 5% per annum, a lot needs to be done in order to make brightness a reality in the darkness that we have all along been associated with. Hence, the African future is dependent upon several factors some of which I have elaborated below.
Is there need for having very long political regimes with leaders who view themselves as alpha and omega? Such leaders have created a fallacy and have choreographed a myth that they are demigods associated with immortality and they are hence poised to rule for eternity. My argument is that having relatively shorter terms for the political leadership gives room for fresh ideas which can be wholly transformative. The Mugabes, Eyademas, Biyas, Musevenis of Africa should relinquish power so as to give room for other oppressed leaders to rule and exercise their leadership.
The African Union should rise above mediocrity and adopt a strategy that is straight-forward in championing for the economic emancipation of Africans. Recently, the African Union, AU, has been calling for the mass exodus of the African states as parties to the Rome Statute that was prime in the formation of the International Criminal Court, the ICC. If at all the states that are leading the withdrawal of African nations from the Rome Statute are claiming that there is interference by the main financing countries in the conduct of the affairs of the ICC, then they should be informed that the proposed African Court of Justice will be interfered with since majority of the AU funding is from the European countries and the USA. In a nutshell, the AU should review its objectives and formulate a strategy that will turn-around the economic fortunes of Africa instead of claiming pyrrhic victory against the ICC. The AU should embrace leadership that has the ability and capability of transforming Africa. So what about electing Robert Mugabe as the AU chair? This is failure hood.
Knowing our rights as the led and the ruled is important in re-engineering our development trajectory as a continent. There is this thing that makes me uncomfortable all the time and this is the sheer and mere ignorance that is displayed by most of the Africans. We do not understand most of our rights that are enshrined in the constitution. We have a culture of waiting for the leaders to tell us what next instead for us dictating to them what they must do for us. We are the ones who elect our leaders and hence they are supposed to prioritize our demands and needs that are a sure-fire for tangible development.
Restructuring our governance systems is non-negotiable if we are to have strong institutions that promote social, political and economic development. We need to have strong and independent anti-corruption institutions, we need to put in place impartial judicial systems that promote the rule of law, a robust police service that is able to execute its mandate and duties without being compromised among other governance structures, systems and institutions.
In conclusion, we should not give up in our bid to right all the wrongs committed by our past and current crop of leaders. We must voice our concerns for the right course. We need to tell the African story the African way and provide solutions that will propel our continent towards prosperity.