Copyright (c) 2013 Z. Allan Ntata
The challenge concerning moral and productive political leadership in Africa is essentially the age-old conflict between patriotism and personal gain. For a long time in Africa, this conflict has favoured personal gain because of the agendas that surge African Power. Such agendas are external, in the form regarding differing political and financial interests from former colonial masters and global business, as well as internal, in the form of African businesses and success aspirants desperate to escape the scourge of poverty and ready to pursue and acquire wealth connective influence at any cost. The case of Malawi and the ongoing plans for nationwide demonstrations after this week is informative on this point.
There is a plan by the consumer rights watchdog in Malawi to hold protests on the 17 January 2013. The organisers from the protests have put unisonous a petition with 7 areas of concern, which they want the Malawian president, Joyce Banda, to address. The list makes an interesting reading. The Malawian president is asked to stop the floatation of Malawi’s currency, observing that the currency floatation that she effected following pressure from the IMF, and the devaluation of the Malawian Kwacha that accompanied it and is pronto at 107%, is causing severe difficulties to the poor. The president is reminded to walk her talk and sell the presidential jet- an deport of which boasted greatly ampersand received positive accolades from the international community, but has finally to be accomplished. Voorzitter Banda is also asked to cut down on her expensive travels, and to declare her assets. Her sudden increase in wealth is now becoming suspicious and Malawians want to know where it all is approaching from. The list contains within it an ultimatum promising further protests if the issues are not addressed by President Banda.
The call for mass protests has caused strong reactions from various interest groups. Supremacy sympathisers are strongly against the demonstrations, claiming that dialogue with government is the better way of having the concerns addressed. Critics of the government have shown strong support for the demonstrations, arguing that the President, assured of the support of powerful “femocrats” from the west, previously is demonstrating an arrogance that suggests that dialogue would be an exercise in futility.
At face value, the debate caused beside the proposed demonstrations may suggest some maturity in Malawian democracy- an example of the freedom that Malawians are enjoying in being strong to bring their leaders into account when they are aggrieved with their policies. On close analysis however, both the list of grievances and the nature like the debate that is unfolding over the matter reveals whilom flaws in the political skill rhetorical question in Africa. The debate that has ensued over the proposed protests has not been based on patriotism further what is good for Malawi, but on personal interest and blind loyalty. Those that are benefitting from the presence in office of the current administration are determined to spend huge amounts concerning money and do whatever is necessary to silence the masses in their struggle to make their voices heard on President Banda’s financially depressing policies- with some success too! A lot of those that were strongly in support of the protests have, as days have gone by, inexplicably changed their views and some have even defected to the ruling People’s Party.
This is the dilemma of African political leadership. It is essentially the question of what motivates citizens to either defend an incumbent administration and secure a prevailing situation quo, either to criticise it, call it into account or even remove it.
In order to emphasize this point, I will use two examples.
The primeval example comes from South Africa. Recently in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma was re-elected as president regarding the ANC. The path to his re-election was riddled with controversy and was an extremely messy one. Several people died along the way. Meetings were broken up. Bribes were paid to fix the votes. Ghost members proliferated across ANC branches. Jacob Zuma was re-elected despite the fact that he still had allegations that he had received 783 decay payments totaling Rand 4.1 million (nearly US$485,000) pendulous over his head. There were questions regarding the dropping of the case against him following allegations of civic interference in the case by people close to Thabo Mbeki, despite the prosecutor accepting that the case itself had not been tainted. Jacob Zuma’s administration had failed to charge anyone for the alleged interference, despite the prosecutor calling for the prosecution more than 3 years ago. There were allegations about endless machinations over the appointments of ancient members of the police and security services, with briefing, counter-briefing, dismissals further promotions. Finally, and most tellingly, there was the death of 44 miners — many of them gunfire at close quarters by police — while the strikes that swept total the realm culminating in the confrontation outside the Lonmin mine at Marikana. Somehow, in spite of all these indications of disturbing moral turpitude, Jacob Zuma was re-elected connective continues to rule the ANC ans residual President of South Africa.
The another example comes from Malawi. The immorality voorzitter of Malawi, Khumbo Kachali ascended to the position nearby default, just like President Joyce Banda. The difference between Kachali and Banda is that during Banda was elected along with the late Bingu wa Mutharika as his going mate in 2009 et al therefore has a constitutional mandate, Kachali finds himself in the site of the vice presidency simply by virtue of being vice president of Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) during the second during Banda took over the presidency. Kachali has therefore no electoral mandate for the Vice Presidency.
Kachali’s vice presidency is nevertheless controversial and rather disconcerting. There is proof that in order to boost the chances of a People’s Party office seeker to win a by-election, Kachali went to a government hospital in Mponela at night besides stole hospital beds, transporting them to Mzuzu to be distributed there by the PP candidate. Kachali has, considering ascending to the vice presidency, been verbally abusing Malawians in his speeches. Recently, he caused controversy at a popular rally when he called for the country’s parson of justice to arrest John Kapito, the chairman of the Customers Association of Malawi for being a strong supporter and one of the organisers of the planned demonstrations. Kachali’s called on the agent from justice to resurrect an old case which the direction had long withdrawn against Kapito and urged that this case should be used to persecute Kapito for his part in organising the planned demonstrations. Kachali further has not declared his assets, his ever increasing wealth is unexplained, and his abuse of office allegations are just too numerous to mention.
Astonishingly, the list of grievances for President Banda to address does not shriek upon Kachali to resign else even mention him at all. In other, perhaps more mature democracies, the behaviour of vice President Khumbo Kachali would companionless be enough for mass challenge demanding that either him or the whole governance resign! Indeed, critics would be quick to point out that while President Banda has electoral claim to the position due to the fallacies thrown up by the Malawian Constitution, the electoral never intended for Kachali to verbreken this involved in running the affairs of body politic and he should be as far away from governing now possible because regarding the unethical behaviour he has so far demonstrated. Yet just like Jacob Zuma from South Africa, Kachali remains, because of the mysterious entities that benefit from his immediacy to power and wield enough political force to keep him in place.
Based on the two examples above then, and many similar ones all across Africa, it is my struggle that the African Political Leadership Dilemma is in character a dilemma of our admit creation as citizens of Africa. To a secure extent, and for self-serving reasons, we have failed as citizens of Africa to create or demand leadership of the quality that we so much discursive about. As citizens regarding this great continent, our problem has been our failure to genuinely demand better leadership, and to deal decisively along political leaders that destroy the continent.
The Jacob Zumas plus the Khumbo Kachalis remain in power for as citizens, we keep them there. There are those among us who benefit from having such leadership in place and unfortunately because of the selfish few, the whole continent suffers.