Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Cold Dish For Burundi.

On Sunday 26th April this year, majority of the Burundians took to the streets to protest about the decision by the incumbent President Pierre Nkurunzinza to run for a third term. This decision absolutely contravenes the Burundian constitutional provisions with regard to the presidential term limits. The Burundi constitution stipulates that the president should serve a maximum of two terms of five years each. 

Pierre Nkurunzinza’s action has certainly jeopardized the post-war progress made by the nation which is arguably among the poorest states in the world. Nkurunzinza assumed the presidency in 2005 after the end of a decade long civil war that took place between 1993 and 2005 replacing the then president, Domitien Ndayizeye. Pierre Nkurunzinza  is a member and the current chairman of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy, CNDD-FDD. 

With disregard to the constitutionally provided mandate, he joins the list of well-known African ‘leaders’ who have gone against the law as far as the presidency and/or the premiership is concerned. As a new member of this power-hungry league, his comradeship will breed political intimacy with Uncle Bob(Robert Mugabe) of the economically devastated and poverty-stricken Zimbabwe, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the strongman of the Pearl of Africa, Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir, and the former president of Burkina Faso turned fugitive Blaise Compaore among others.

As he rose to the top-most office in Burundi, he championed a national policy whose sole purpose was to enhance political stability, promote economic recovery and facilitate national reconstruction and reconciliation. Sunday’s protests in Bujumbura reveal the parody of this policy of nationhood whose main architect was Mr. Nkurunzinza. This happenstance will definitely make history to serve a cold dish to the Burundians if more violence occurs. Fear for another dark period in the history of this fledgling African country is imminent provided that the majority intensify their opposition to the incumbent’s run for a third term in case he does not relent gunning for another term in office.

No one would wish Burundi to plunge into another period of civil warfare as she has already experienced similar phenomenon in 1972 during which more than 400,000 civilians lost their lives and  the other in 1993-2005 which claimed the souls of over 300,000 people. Suffice is to say that majority of his country men are against his nomination for another term including most his CNDD-FDD party members. This is also a critical moment whereby the East African Community members under the chairmanship of President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania need to intervene to avoid a potential image dent of this particular region.

Apart from the EAC intervention, the African Union should also come out strongly to not only condemn but to also oppose Nkurunzinza’s move. But a point to ponder is to whether the AU can boldly execute such an unprecedented move. I doubt if the AU can intervene because it is a body that is largely comprised of jingoistic personalities and in addition, it is a union that has lost direction if its performance is to go by. Argumentatively, the AU should cease the culture of making in-roads only when events have turned bloody but instead it should strive to make interventions when the rosiness of political situations is fading. For instance, the sending of troops to troubled African states has often-times come in handy to salvage crises occasioned by war but such reactive measures can be avoided if pro-activeness is embraced by the union.

A lot is being anticipated to see whether Nkurunzinza will rescind his decision or not. My plea is that he should go for the former and history will remember him positively. He should let democracy to prevail in Burundi so that on 26th of June this year, Burundians can be able to elect a new president. And do not forget this: Mr. Nkurunzinza is a born-again Christian so may be he believes that God has spoken to him to rule for eternity. But all said and done, Burundi is courting a politically wicked path en route to its former status of a pariah state and a banana republic.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa.

For the last 3 weeks, foreigners in South Africa have been living in fear due to  the xenophobic attacks that are being executed by the indigenous people. So far, in the ensuing attacks, already six people have lost their dear lives. This is a baffling event given that South Africa has been christened as a “Rainbow Nation” since the end of the apartheid regime way back in 1994.

These April 2015 xenophobic attacks are not the first ones to take place. Other xenophobic attacks notably occurred in January this year, in 2008 in which the city of Johannesburg was the hotspot and in 2006 where Cape Town was the epicenter. The 2008 xenophobic attacks left 62 dead souls. The attacks by the locals on the foreigners in April this year started in the port city of Durban. These attacks in Durban are believed to have been fueled by Goodwill Zwelithini, the king of the Zulu community. He is alleged to have said that foreigners should pack their bags and go because they are taking jobs from the citizens. However, from a different facet, the United Nations puts forth that the latest xenophobic spat was occasioned by a labor dispute between the local and the foreign workers in March of this year.

The locals have traded several accusations against the foreigners who are believed to have taken up more jobs hence living the citizens to struggle to get the fewer jobs available. Another accusation labeled against the foreigners is that they have constantly and continuously undermined the businesses that are owned by the local people and that the foreigners have led to an increase in the crime rate.

Methinks, however, that the primary precursor to these attacks is the ever increasing level of inequality  between the rich and the poor inclusive of the locals and the foreigners. The escalating levels of inequality have been due to corruption that has eaten through the system for several years and poverty which has been mainly due to unemployment  in the country. According to government  statistics and figures the level of unemployment in South Africa is 25%. The immigrant factor arguably can also be termed as a trigger force to these violent attacks. Currently, the total number of immigrants in South Africa stands at 2 million which is 4% of the total population with the Zimbabweans forming the largest cohort of immigrants.

My hunch is that if these xenophobic attacks are not checked and properly dealt with, then in the long-run more abrasive and intense attacks that will be highly catastrophic should be anticipated albeit not being a prophet of doom and gloom. From my point of view, these attacks are a culmination of the simmering frustrations the South Africans have been experiencing since the end of apartheid that promised the Blacks a socio-economic paradise that has hardly been realized. President Jacob Zuma and his entire government are faced with an uphill task of tackling the teething problems that have engulfed most of the Black people in South Africa. 

It seems that after Nelson Mandela, his successors Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and presently Jacob Zuma did very little to better the lives of the majority of the Black South Africans especially those who live in the poor and marginalized areas around the cities, however, Motlanthe can be exempted as he assumed presidency for several months after the resignation of Mbeki following his failure to retain the party leadership post of the ruling African National Congress.

As several nations have begun evacuating their nationals, the daunting task President Zuma has is to lead his charges in ceasing these attacks and preventing similar ones from occurring in future by orchestrating strategies that will positively change the socioeconomic situation of the Black South Africans. The spirit of Ubuntu and the Rainbow Nation declaration slogan have certainly to be restored in this great African country. Please, South Africans stop these attacks with the same zeal that Nelson Mandela fought and won against apartheid.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

State Of The Nation

The past few days in Kenya will be echoed as part of our country’s history in both the positive and negative facets. Positively, the step taken by President Kenyatta to name and shame public officials who are believed to have engaged in activities shadowed by corruption has definitely set the momentum to deal with the vice that has engulfed this country for many years. On the other hand, the killing of the 148 intellectuals by terrorists will go down the memory lane as one of the deadliest terrorist attacks to have ever been witnessed within our borders.

The bold step taken by the president to crack the whip on allegedly corrupt individuals deserves to be applauded. His was naming the individuals and asking them to step aside to pave way for investigations to be carried out. The whole world is now watching as to whether those who will be found guilty will be prosecuted or not. Certainly, the challenge lies here. For years we have not been able to deal with graft effectively and this is the reason why the levels of corruption have escalated.

Dealing with corruption should not be reduced to an only government affair but it should instead be each citizen’s responsibility to try and weed out the corruption monster. The Opposition should also support the government in this. I was perplexed when Hon. Raila Odinga claimed that the names that were mentioned by President Kenyatta targeted the Opposition members. Quite astonishing, isn’t it? This is because the list also featured politicians from the government side. In upholding the unwritten principle of political morality, all the politicians irrespective of their party affiliations should be at the fore-front in the fight against corruption.
Hence, this should be a new beginning of annihilating the beast of corruption that has evaded us for ages. My plea to President Kenyatta is that he should spare nobody accused of any misdeeds associated with graft. The fight against corruption is politically costly but we ought to recall the adage that victory comes at a cost. The president should be aware that rounding up the corrupt individuals will create a new political frontier which will definitely be against him but history will forever remember him.

The president as the captain of the Jubilee Alliance has less than two years to prove that his administration has not been one of the most corrupt regimes in Kenya. In his potent efforts to do so, we need to support him for the sake of our dear lives and the lives of the generations after us. President Kenyatta should perhaps be aware that in the fight against corruption, the buck certainly stops with him and not the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that is quite toothless because of the blurred leadership that has engulfed it.

In matters security, the past week has been traumatizing because of the terrorist attack at the Garissa University College. The stigmatization of the family members and the survivors of the attack cannot be imagined as such an act of terror was bound to occur but wasn’t expected at all. My thinking is I really doubt if it were Al Shabaab who orchestrated the horrendous act. But again may be they were part of Al Shabaab as terrorist groups are known to have networks with their sympathizers. All in all, it was a terrorist attack.
The government should have been well aware that such imminent attacks on learning institutions were bound to happen given that a number of terrorist groups notably Boko Haram have carried out similar actions. The universality in principles and ideologies shared by the terrorist groups prompts them to borrow a leaf and exchange notes with each other. How the government is going to deal with the devilish acts of terrorism remains a mirage but we all hope for the best. However, the political gimmicks and blame games between the government and opposition sides serves to strengthen the Al Shabaab and motivates them simply due to the disunity among leaders from the different political orientations.

I find no reason at all of politicizing the security issue. In fact, at such times is when we should display unity because no person would wish to be insecure. In dealing with the Al Shabaab, the government should use any mechanism whether it is deporting the refugees back to Somalia, building a wall along the Kenya-Somalia border or even withdrawing our troops from the pariah state that is Somalia. Whether such acts will be humane or inhumane, heroic or cowardly, so be it but the bottom-line will be the protection of our people’s lives.

In conclusion, we all have not only a duty but also a responsibility in ensuring that our country is secure and devoid of corruption. We should all support the president in his efforts to ensure that Kenya is secure and free from graft. Such efforts will be a sure-fire towards realizing our goals and aspirations as a nation.