Namibia backs govt of national unity

thokozani_khupeA trend that has emerged in Africa where ruling parties refuse to hand over power to newly elected opposition parties came under fire at the just ended three-day conference on Africa's democracy in Gaborone. (pictured: Thokozani Khupe)

Over 300 delegates from across Africa attended the conference that started on Monday organised by the International Parliamentary Union (IPU), the Parliament of Botswana and the Frederick Ebert Foundation.

The debate on Government of National Unity (GNU) trend came under fire after an address by Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe who said that the system was undermining democracy on the continent – hence it should be condemned.

She said that Africa leaders must learn to accept defeat and hand over power to others instead of manipulating systems to overstay in power. She stated that the voters’ voice should be listened to and never negotiated.

Speaker after speaker condemned the system, saying once they realise that they have lost, the ruling parties unleash security forces on civilians to cause chaos. The speakers said that once adopted GNU undermines or kills the role of parliament, as oversight institution.

The system came into being after the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) party lost to the opposition in the December 2007 elections that resulted in violent ethnic clashes. A year later the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic-Front (ZANU-PF) party in Zimbabwe lost elections to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the system was applied to stop the violence caused by ruling party zealots.

However, two Namibian MPs – a male and female – said that they do not have a problem with the government of national unity. They said that it has happened before in Europe and America and should not be shunned when it happens in Africa. A female MP, who was only introduced as Ngomesah, accused Africans of agreeing to everything that Europeans demand of them or what they tell them. She stated that African problems should be solved by Africans themselves, something that supporters of dictator Robert Mugabe used to chant at the height of political instability in Zimbabwe.

Ngomesah said she does not agree with the call for limited presidential terms arguing that the same should be extended to Members of Parliament (MPs). She said that many African states gained their independence without assistance from European countries hence it is surprising that they want to call the shots in African affairs. She said that she followed the Ghana elections recently in which the opposition beat the party that had ruled the country for decades. “What I got from the Western media, particularly the BBC, was just a flash and nothing more,” she said. She added that the same media gives full coverage to violence on the continent even going to the extent of airing special programmes on the turmoil.

The IPU conference, which ended with a document titled “The Gaborone Declaration” yesterday, was the first to be held in Africa.

Mmegi Online

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