Dictator, turned president of Niger, Mamadou Tandja, is at sixes and sevens thanks to the anger and rumpus of the people after tampering with the constitution to illegally secure a third time in office. He is not the first, may be even the last to embark on such macabre tricks. Tandja seems hell-bent to remain in power contrary to the wish of the people and tenets of democracy. 

Africa’s democracy has been receiving a kick in the head from current mumbo jumbos who wrongly think they’re created to rule.The continent  is quickly cascading to dictatorship under pseudo-referendums, the votes of manipulated people and cheerleaders. Voix populi is no longer vox Dei especially when the many are evil and dubious. For living potentates, it started with Gadaffi of Libya; Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak  and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Thereafter, Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame, Abduluye Wade and now Tandja followed. There is no voice of the majority in the voices of criminals and stooges being fed by dictatorship. Tandja won by 92% thanks to having many stooges behind him. 

Tampering with the constitution is as futile as coup d’etats. It suffocates democracy and derails the process already put in place at the expense of donors and poor taxpayers. Why should poor countries spend millions of dollars on charades whose results are easy to predict?  Why should donor countries support such nugatory regimes if it is not double standard and conspiracy?

In essence, after military coup d’etats which are returning slowly thanks to what recently happened in  the Central African Republic (CAR), Guinea and Mauritania, civil coup d’etats are doubling. Refer to the above rulers that amended their constitutions and remained in power. Currently Africa has three novo military rulers in Francois Bozize (CAR), Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (Mauritania that recently won macabre elections) and Moussa Dadis Camara of Guinea. As it happened for Abdel Aziz, the duo too will convene charade elections and become elected leaders as it happened for Museveni, Kagame and Zenawi. Who knows? Camara was recently quoted saying: “I have nothing more to say, except that I might or might not stand. No-one can stop me.”

There is yet another danger-cum-threat for democracy in Africa-rigging. Unfortunately, the international community hates military juntas but not vote riggers! This was seen in Kenya’s flawed elections where the loser ended up being awarded presidency by the same international community. To “solve” the problem after Kenyans butchered each other in post election bloodbath, the international community sent Koffi Annan, the  former UN chief to reconcile the two protagonists: Kibaki and Raila, by means of power sharing. The deal was reached and two genies were returned to their bottles.

In the two incidents, the voter’s voice is ignored. In a simple parlance the voter was robbed of his right in the name of peace that has never prevailed. How can it prevail if the perpetrators of this carnage are still in public offices destroying evidence and stealing?

Another growing threat for democracy is inheritance by former rulers’ children or their protégés. Currently Africa has two presidents who inherited powers from their parents. These are Joseph Kabila (DRC), Foure (Foul) Eyadema (Togo) and the third one is in the making in Gabon where Ali Ben-Bongo is expected to inherit his father. Some sons of former presidents use their fathers’ manipulation to ascend to power. President Ian Khama of Botswana is a living example. We currently have people like Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi; Amani Karume (president of Zanzibar); Dr. Hussein Mwinyi (powerful minister in Tanzania who is believed to be eyeing presidency in Zanzibar where his father was president before he became the president of the union). Others are appointing their wives as it happened in Uganda where Museveni appointed his wife a minister.

Another threat is suffocating and killing the opposition. This applies almost everywhere in Africa except in a few countries south of Africa. Ruling parties have overthrown the majority and usurped their powers. They’ve taken over from military juntas. In Tanzania, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has always been in power thanks to felling, sabotaging opposition and rigging. High rank soldiers are appointed in political capacity to manipulate the army to support this phantasmagoria. They’re used to intimidate people, supervise and rig elections. Most District and Regional Commissions in Tanzania and Uganda are soldiers. In Ethiopia and Rwanda, ruling parties have become governments. Media and opposition in these countries are harassed and silenced in the name of national security whilst all this is the fear of losing power to the awakening majority. CCM, EPRDF, NRM and RPF-Inkotanyi wage more powers than even the governments in the countries.

Though Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are called democracies, in actual fact, they are fascists. As per the definition of fascism hereunder, to me, the duo is ruled by dictators even if they are said to come to power through the ballot box. Fascism comprises a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology and a corporatist economic ideology.

Fascists believe that nations and/or races are in perpetual conflict whereby only the strong can survive by being healthy, vital and by asserting themselves in conflict against the weak. Fascists advocate the creation of a single party state. Fascist governments forbid and suppress criticism and opposition to the government and the fascist movement. Fascism opposes class conflict, blames capitalist liberal democracies for its creation and communists for exploiting the concept. In the economic sphere, many fascist leaders have claimed to support a “Third Way” in economic policy, which they believed superior to both the rampant individualism restrain and the severe control of state communism. This was to be achieved by establishing significant government control over business and labour  (Mussolini called his nation’s system “the corporate state”). No common and concise definition exists for fascism and historians and political scientists disagree on what should be in any concise definition.

Going back to Tandja, he and the likes have proved to be politically dangerous to the continent. What pains more is the fact that the same came to power under democratic rungs just like Wade.

Though democracy has failed to bring freedom in Africa, at least, there is a sigh of relief. Slowly, countries like Botswana, South Africa, Malawi and Zambia have proved that if the voices and will of the people are respected, they can add up. Tremendously democratic institutions in the above countries are going from strength to strength.


Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.