Why African leaders fail to relinquish power

The recent announcement by the Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) that it had unanimously endorsed the incumbent President Jose Eduardo Dos Antos as its candidate during the forthcoming general elections scheduled for September is quite an embarrassment and a disgrace to the continent.

Jose Eduardo Dos Antos
Jose Eduardo Dos Antos

For a tried and tested party with a strong historical background, it is rather naïve to note that the party leadership has failed to culminate a strategy to rest its ageing President and opt for new blood.

It seems the party is still dwelling in the same fissure as ZANU PF which also unanimously endorsed President Robert Mugabe as its Presidential candidate come election time.

Does the continent require a kind of a “Madiba” magic whereby a man like Nelson Mandela humbled himself, by leaving office only after serving a five year term?

Nelson Mandela exemplary shunned the adage that says “power corrupts” by refusing to join the league of despot African leaders who had long tasted power when he was still incarcerated at Robben Island such including Dos Santos himself, President Robert Mugabe, the then Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi,Paul Biya of Cameron just to mention a few. Astonishingly many are still office bearers and still eager to be in office like what President Dos Santos

Even financial offers by oneSudanese Millionaire, Mo Ibrahim who launched a fund that offered African leaders millions of dollars if they voluntarily left office , hasn’t ripped much results .Our leaders can’t just leave office voluntarily.

Back to Angola, President Dos Antosa man who has been in power since the oil rich southern African country got independence from Portugal in 1979, it is quite noble from an African mindscape for President Dos Antos not to accept the offer and hand over power to a breed of fresh minded citizens. Such a gesture would earn him much respect in the African continent just as what his neighboring compatriot Joachim Chissano of Mozambique.

Angolans will credit him for bringing peace after decades of fighting with the then UNITA rebels of Jonas Savimbi in 2002.

There is a shona idiom that says “Ushe Madzoro” literally translated it means leadership is passed on to others.

The problem with t many African despots such is that they aren’t prepared to hand over power earlier when they are still a lit bit credible to the people. Thirty three years (33yrs) is just too much and it is wise to let go the button before serious credibility deficit struck just like what happened to the late Libyan Strong man Colonel Muammer Gaddafi ,Hosni Mubarak of Egypt among others.

Back home, ZANU PF is preaching to the public about the possibility of general elections being held any time this year.Ironocally, President Mugabe was endorsed by the party as its candidature regardless that he has been at the helm of Zimbabwean politics since 1960 when he joined the then National Democratic Party (NDP).This translates to fifty two years in the political landscape including the thirty two (32yrs) as the country‘s Premier.

Like what United States President Barrack Obama said “Africa does not need strongmen but strong institutions of Democracy”. The continent has been ruled by despots who remain out of touch with the people whilst concentrating on plundering and looting the available resources whilst the majority of the citizens languish in abject poverty.

For how long shall our leaders continue to hoodwink us telling us that our current problems are as a result of the evils of the West? Can’t we question their credibility? At least the people of Senegal managed to realize the threat that President Abdullah Wade possesses to the existence of democracy since they are rejecting his bid for another term in office. Thabo Mbeki blundered when he attempted another third term in office but was quick to be rebuked by the “militant” Julius Malema and the list goes on.

Africa still has a lot to achieve when it comes to democratic values. “Strong men” still run the show with the backing of the military Generals who refuse to confine their duties to the barracks where they belong. With the exception of a few countries such as Botswana (Festus Mogae who transferred power to Ian Khama) and Nelson Mandela, Strong man can’t let go their offices peacefully. The continent requires strong institutions of democracy and not vice versa.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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