CHRONICLE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
By Gilbert Tsala Ekani, US Africa News. Updated 2016-05-10
It was believed that democracy was the triumph of transparency and freedom. That the system allowed or would allow each citizen to give an opinion on the affairs of the country, regardless of one’s standing.
What we say in reality is that most African countries have left democracy behind. The Mobutus, Omar Bongo Ondimbas, Mathieu Kerekous, Houphouet Boignys and their ilk considered themselves great African leaders, who could not comprehend that people can challenge their authority. The Western democracy could, in their eyes, only be a source of division, even disorder. But they were forced to accept it as blackmail. It was not so much the love of Africans that concerned the countries’ democracy seekers, but rather their own interests. African countries have therefore complied and made democracy with an African flavor.
Everyone seems to agree with the late Ahmadou Ahidjo, a great democrat in his way, who said: "There is no universal standard of democracy." And so we decided to organize democracy here as in the West. We even reviewed the constitutions for this purpose, having term limits "carved in stone," promising, swearing that nobody would touch this provision. And yet...it was often touched...to respect the democracy. Electoral commissions were set up, often independent. Scheduled elections were organized that were more or less fixed, but each time, or oftentimes, the people preferred the status quo. Astonishingly. Everywhere, there was a landslide victory of a defending champion. There was what we now call "a knockout blow." No way to hang on for a possible second round, where one exists. The matter is settled in the first round, be there ten, twenty or thirty candidates.
The most surprising result was recorded in Congo, Brazzaville, where opponents awaited the end of President Sassou Nguesso. In vain. There was the "knockout blow." In Niger, things also failed to end with the incumbent leaving. Instead he was very strong going into the second round with a prisoner, who was ill, to boot. In the end, he managed to be the only candidate and received a one-party score. Disturbed by his overwhelming (and troubling?) victory, he proposed to opponents to come to the government, for a share of the national cake, as they say. Another instance, the "knockout blow" of Ivorian Alassane Ouattara did not make waves, so that it seemed logical and plausible.
The second round in Senegal with Wade and Macky Sall has aroused public interest, just as that in Benin between Zinsou and Talon, and the one that saw Touadera win in CAR. This shows that Africa is not cursed or completely lost to democracy. But the coming months are likely to put a damper on this claim. In Gabon there will soon be a presidential election clearly under very high pressure. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there is great uncertainty. The temptation is great to remove the barrier of term limits. In Rwanda, it was done and it was the people who requested it. It seems it was almost demanded that Mr. Omar Guelleh in Djibouti resume his post, as will no doubt happen with Chad’s Idriss Deby, who has already opened the umbrella for opponents: "after all, this is not the end of world".
In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma, like many other of his African colleagues, wanted to use money from the state for some small personal pleasures. After all, if the president would like a pool in order to govern the country well, what's a pool? What is five or six small billion? Except that South African justice was not amused. And we saw Zuma scolded like a toddler, apologizing profusely. It was pathetic, and he should have simply resigned. But he may have thought of his many wives and all his children. One must keep the pot boiling, right?
Let us dare to advise the presidents of our continent. That they concern themselves with giving five things to their people: bread, health, education, water and electricity. Then they will see the people really and truly spontaneously beg them to stay. They would not even have to organize hate groups or pay out election expenditures. We would simply ask them to stay in power; a "knockout blow" for life.
No matter that we found later the names of our great leaders in the global “Panama Papers". No one dares to demand resignations. This is not one of our habits. In fact, shouldn’t we rejoice that there is no Cameroonian showing up in the Panama Papers?
But, not so fast, there are still 11 million files—just wait a bit...