Mind the Pigs’ takeover…
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is perhaps the most powerful rendition of what is happening in Africa. I can never get out of my mind when the farm animals, at the end of the book, peak in to the house to see what the pigs are up to – and the pigs that were once the saviors of the farm have become as torturous as the humans who had once ruled the farm – and worse.
This in my mind is what some of our leaders here in Africa have become. And they will continue to eat the fat of the land while the experience of the majority is poverty beyond what any human should endure.
To progress and create a different more prosperous Africa for our children, we must demand Orwell’s truth – Some animals are NOT more equal than others!
On its current path – the future of the entire Africa is this: To the Excellencies and officials of Europe: We suffer enormously in Africa. Help us. We have problems in Africa. We lack rights as children. We have war and illness, we lack food… We want to study, and we ask you to help us to study so we can be like you, in Africa. (Message found on the bodies of Guinean teenagers Yaguine Koita and Fode Tounkra, stowaways who died attempting to reach Europe in the landing gear of an airliner) - Excerpt taken from Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid
The above is what we have been reduced to – begging first world countries to let us in because our own countries have gone rot.
I watched Hosni Mubarak on TV a short while ago – standing tall and proud – an utter resolve on his face to rule Egypt for another 30 years should he live that long… I watched as Gbagbo marched majestically on the red carpet that led to his joke of an inauguration after the Ivorians had legitimately tossed him out of power – and now our leaders are talking endlessly to “resolve” the Côte D’Ivoire crisis and we all know what they mean by “peaceful” settlement – Gbagbo gets a power sharing deal. He ends up being president and the rightful winner Alassane Outtara will end up as Prime Minister and Côte D’Ivoire. For however long the two will be in power Côte D’Ivoire will fail to prosper because instead of a decisive path to progress the two factions will forever be fighting – butting egos. Ultimately the Ivorians will ultimately be the losers.
Interesting how Botswana appeared to break ranks with other African leaders who failed to call Gbabgo’s tactics exactly what they were – a ploy to stay in power – whatever the cost to his country. Botswana called the situation in Côte D’Ivoire a disgrace.
“The voice of the people must be respected,” said Phandu Sekelemani, Botswana’s Foreign Minister at an AU conference that discussed the Côte D’Ivoire impasse. He went on to say, “It makes a mockery of our shared values, which include democracy... Is our understanding of democracy the same? ...If I don’t like the results, I can cause confusion and remain there.”
And how about election processes being questioned AFTER the incumbent loses? Political Analyst Chrys Matubatuba worries that power sharing governments may be regressing the continent to an era when leaders enjoyed a life time of kingship.
But the real question is can power sharing government truly govern in a progressive manner?
Can power sharing Governments Govern? Matubatuba begins his response to this with: “The settlement for power sharing sacrifices democracy… be it for the sake of peace. It’s a mockery of democracy and of the election process.”
He and other observers argue that bloodshed and chaos are threats the losing incumbents hold over their country and over mediators.
In their paper Lessons Learned from Power-Sharing in Africa, Harvard Strand and Scott Gates, from the Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW) contend that “power-sharing can be a useful remedy under certain conditions.”
I’ll summarize their case studies:
Burundi In 2004, an advanced power-sharing accord was reached. This led to democratic elections and the installment of a new government in 2005. The power-sharing provisions are very inclusive… Power-sharing has succeeded in incorporating both the major ethic groups in the country. However, the situation is still unstable.
Kenya A power-sharing agreement between Kenya’s two main political parties was reached in March 2008… It is otherwise a minimalist and purely inclusionary power-sharing agreement. The agreement had the immediate effect of restoring peace and stability in Kenya. Yet, the accord’s long-term durability is far from certain. The fundamental causes of the conflict, inequalities in access to power and resources, have not been addressed. These issues remain latent sources of conflict that have the potential to derail the current grand coalition government and lead to renewed conflict.
Liberia During its fourteen-year civil war, Liberia was dominated by a number of rebel groups. Power-sharing was an important aspect of most peace agreements signed to end the conflict… But the problem of spoilers meant that as one peace arrangement failed after the other, power sharing was more and more tailored to fit the rebel organizations rather than society. The final power-sharing arrangement has proven itself a success as a transitional vehicle, but in Liberia no such arrangement has been viable without third-party guarantees.
Nigeria Various forms of power-sharing institutions have been introduced in Nigeria after the civil war, but they have seldom been implemented in a meaningful way. The increase in the number of states is allegedly done to better integrate minorities, but the fact that many of these increases happened during military governments point to another plausible cause: a “divide and rule”-strategy. While some small minorities gained representation… their influence remained insignificant. Larger ethnic groups were split up into several states, which tended to dilute the influence of these groups. As a consequence of their inferior position, several smaller groups and fringe organizations have used violent means in Nigerian politics. In order to oppose this tendency, a number of inclusive power sharing laws have been passed… [however] these measures fail to address the most important issue for these minorities: the allocation of the oil income. Wealth sharing is administrated according to a number of contradictory principles, which leaves all groups more or less aggrieved.
Sierra Leone Power-sharing in Sierra Leone served one specific purpose: to produce peace. This end was reached, although power-sharing as a system of governance failed.
Strand and Gates’ conclusion: power-sharing has done more to establish peace than to promote good governance.
For more detail on their paper visit: http://www.prio.no/sptrans/790247883/Comparative%20Policy%20Brief.pdf
Egypt is the latest African country to hold the interest of the world. Regardless of how soon President Mubarak leaves some observers say a power sharing government may still be on the cards for that country.
Of course there remain many complex issues with each country when it comes to governance. Perhaps Dambisa Moyo, puts it best on her book Dead Aid – “The particular role of strong civil society is to ensure that the government is held accountable for its actions, through fundamental civil reforms other than simply holding elections.”
It is this writer’s belief that until we the people of Africa can create and maintain systems that put us in power and not our governments – we can expect to see more crises over elections. Ms Moyo quotes Peter Bauer who says, ultimately this focus on politics, creates a scenario where instead of putting our energies into economic productivity those energies are expended on political life which ultimately weakens the social construction of a country.
Country after country in Africa has proved that very few times does changes in governance translate to, long term, positive change for the masses. If this were not true the growth of various African economies would have translated to decreased poverty levels for people on the ground.
In its report titled Africa and the Monterrey Consensus: Tracking Performance and Progress, the UN Economic Commission for Africa notes that “African economies continued to sustain the growth momentum of previous years, recording an overall real GDP growth rate of 5.8% in 2007. ... The report also notes that economic growth recovery in Africa has not yet translated into meaningful social development and has not benefited vulnerable groups.” More recent reports on Africa indicate that the 2007 picture has not changed.
All the animals on the farm need to be empowered. There will always be that group of pigs that slowly and very subtly, at first, change the rules to benefit them. Orwell’s pigs clearly enjoyed their position of privilege and boy did they squeeze every iota of luxury from that farm – at the expense of all the other animals.
The pigs that had led the revolution to oust the humans were now the oppressors. Can there be a better story that warns of the danger we place ourselves in by utterly pinning our hopes of progress and development on one person or group of people?
Posted to facebook: "An insult to the dignity of the Egyptian people,” is what analyst, Nabila Ramdani, called Mubarak’s announcement, that he would not be stepping down, last night. (BBC World TV, Friday Feb 11, 2011, 06:23am)