In politics, there is nothing new under the sun; what is happening today has happened before, and will happen again in the future. In Uganda, and, indeed, in Africa as a whole, the festive mood and euphoria of the newly-won independence did not last long. Post-colonial Africa made a false start in terms of leadership choices, policies, priorities, ideologies and developments strategies. Socialism, one party systems, nationalism, comprehensive development planning, foreign aid and technical assistance were embraced as panaceas to the continent’s development problems. As the Bible says, the first generation of African leaders did those things which they should not have done and left undone those things which they ought to have done.
Once African leaders got flag independence, they quickly forgot the ideals such as one-man-one-vote, equality, human rights, and the rule of law which had inspired their struggle against colonialism. They became the fathers of the African nations and instant philosophers like instant coffee. The apparent democrats who spearheaded the process of decolonisation became the one-man dictators and built frightening personality cults immediately after independence. Thus, Kwame Nkrumah, for example, became the Osegyefo (redeemer) or what Professor Ali Mazrui once called the Leninist Tsar. The false start in Africa soon led to political instability and uncertainty, successive military coups, civil wars, economic stagnation and decline, corruption and social woes which culminated in the crises of the 1980s and 1990s.
There cannot be any truer words than the ones in the two preceding paragraphs, which are derived from The Story Of An African Entrepreneur, a Gordon B. K. Wavamunno’s autobiography, to describe what has, unfortunately, led to most of our contemporary challenges across Africa.
The current political atmosphere is one characterised by hopelessness in, especially most of our current, and, in more than one case, long serving leaders. President Jacob Zuma, in South Africa, and President Uhuru Kenyatta, in Kenya, and his Jubilee government have bred a reputation built on numerous corruption and other scandals. Presidents Yoweri Museveni, of Uganda, Robert Mugabe, of Zimbabwe, Pierre Nkurunziza, of Burundi, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, of Equitorial Guinea, to mention but a few, have successfully maintained their stay in what are, indeed, positions of public manipulation. They have, most recently, been followed by their headline dominating colleague; Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh!
Yahya Jammeh, “the outgoing” President of Gabon, had on, Friday, December 2, 2016, lost and conceded defeat in his country’s Presidential and national elections. However, a week later made a u-turn and rejected the same election results, much to the surprise and shock of many observers world over.
His party is now challenging the results in Gambia’s Supreme Court, which is nonexistent as it is not sufficiently constituted and has been dormant since 2015, and is being boycotted by lawyers and their Bar Association who have found it unjust to appoint a bench purposely to entertain a matter in which he is an interested party.
Generally, our hopes, of a prosperous continent have been dampened by the nature of leaders we have had over time. Besides doing all he can to sustain his hold onto power, Museveni has been involved in curtailing some of the most basic freedoms, and opposition directed towards him (re: Kiiza Besigye and other opposition leaning political) and the despicable Kasese Killings of November 2016. Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President have been in and out of the ICC, where they were invited to answer to charges of gross violation of human rights and the post election violence of 2007/2008 which preceded this, their first term in office. A 90+ years old, helpless Robert Mugabe has, like his colleagues, not made any retirement plans.
We, as the hardworking, hopeful electorate have instead of reaping what we thought was the good that came with gaining independence, spent most of our time disagreeing with those who happen to be our leaders. Their uncensored greed for power has dedicated all available resources and concentration to maintaining their stay, at the expense of all possible socio-economic gains for their own populace.
We might not necessarily lay our blame on gaining independence (and wishing that we should not have fought for it in the first place), but we certainly can put it on our leaders who, by their own greed, have out rightly disrespected our respective constitutions, and kept in their positions against our will, and without sanction.
BY ALEXANDER TWINOKWESIGA
This article appears in our weekly digital law magazine, The Deuteronomy, Vol 9, Issue 3 of December 16th, 2016
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