African rulers are like magicians when it comes to surprises even wonders. My apologies for using the word “rulers” in lieu of leaders. My my belief is, Africa is currently ruled and ruined by rulers, not led by leaders as we dreamed at the time we acquired our political independence.
If one asks me the rationale of this take, I’ll ask him or her to show me any exemplary leadership that those rulers have ever shown or displayed? How could they be leaders whilst Africa is becoming poorer and poorer under their bro-card, not to mention being haughtier than it was soon after independence?
If anything, many African rulers will lapse the year 2010 in style if not braggadocios. The curtain raiser is president of South Africa Mr Jacob Zuma who recently sued cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro and The Sunday Times newspaper demanding the redress at the tune of $ 731, 000. Zuma conceived and delivered this after two years. The cartoon in question was published on 7th September 2008, depicting Zuma with his henchmen pegging down a lady as a symbol of denying her justice after being raped by Zuma. This scandal brought a lot of brouhahas in South Africa before the court miraculously exonerated Zuma.
Zuma shocked the world even the accused persons. Sunday Times attorney Eric van der Berg, when asked to comment on the matter, he was quoted as thus: “We are surprised to receive this almost two years down the track. That is all we have to say at this stage.” Shapiro on his side, when asked to comment was quoted as thus: “I will not allow the president to intimidate me.”
Going back to Zuma the survivalist, among reasons that enabled him to survive this purge is Zulu polygamous culture, fanaticism, political machinations plus hatred against his predecessor Thabo Mbeki who was regarded, by then, as being aloof, out of touch and arrogant.
The second performer in this spree of shocking the world is president Abdulaye Wade of Senegal. He caused doctor Mame Mary Faye to be fined $1,000 for alleging that the aging president is sick, and thus, cannot stand come 2012’s elections. Before this happened, I did not know that speculating on the mortal person is a crime. Anyway, given that the subject is president, may be, just may be, Senegalese laws, just like other African countries know president is immortal. Who knows if the same is infallible?
This time west Africa scored high. Ghana’s president, also a professor himself, John Evans Fifii Atta Mills was gasping with drug trafficking anathema thanks to wikileaks report. He went as far as demanding his entourage being screened to see if some of his inner sanctum members carry this stuff with them. Four months after ascending to power , according to UK customs official, Roland O’Hagan, told US diplomats that Mills wanted his own entourage screened before leaving the country. “According to O’Hagan, Mills wants these officials to be checked in the privacy of his suite to avoid any surprises if they are caught carrying drugs.” Wikileaks said.
Why being searched in privacy if this is not whitewashing in the first place? Anyway, this is the African way of solving chronic problems like drug trafficking by the high and mighty. Who knows if the victim of all this would be even the first lady or any close kith and kin? The big man has to precautionary deal with this, fearing this given that he knows his people.
East Africa did not want to be left abaft. Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki surprised many when he stood by post-elections ‘Ocampo Six’! Being the core of all this despite being a survivalist, many thought at least he’d show and exercise leadership. When Luis Moreno Ocampo dropped the bombshell, Kibaki was quoted as thus: “Calls for action to be taken against them are therefore prejudicial, preemptive and against the rules of natural justice.” The guru of economics did not end up thither. He added: “In the meantime I wish to state that the government is fully committed to the establishment of a local tribunal to deal with those behind the post election violence, in accordance with stipulations of the new constitution.”
Crucial question is when did Kibaki and the like see the light if at all? They are the ones and same that frustrated all efforts of forming local tribune to look into post-election mayhem? Refer to the shameful pulling of Kenya out of ICC as it was ratified by the parliament. This means, politicians in the whole especially MPs are behind the post-election mayhem.
Anyway, when water is spilled nobody can scoop it. “Too little too late”… so to speak. “Pole sana bwana rais.”
Yoweri Museveni is the man who conquers everywhere and every time, though in different manners and styles. Today I am not going to talk about his rap mastery. When he was quizzed on his fear of being brought down by Libyan strongman Muamar Gadaffi as it was blown out by Wikileaks, he had this to say: “Take for example, this issue of shooting down my plane. If we think that is a problem, I didn’t have to travel. I can stay here comfortably. You know I am very comfortable. Don’t you see even here in Mbale I am very comfortable? What would I be looking for outside.” Was and is he really comfortable or just the matter of metaphors? Anyway, this is Africa where politicians can fool everybody including themselves.
Jongwe Robert Mugabe is the guy that nary succumb to age and time. Differently from other African rulers who were termed as weak be it sexually or politically, he was commended by Americans in their Wikileaks chronicles as a “superb debater, always looking for proof”. Americans added that he is “fit, mentally sharp, and charming.”!!!! From the days of yore it is said give the diablo its due. Look at their assessment of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe PM : “a flawed figure, indecisive with questionable judgment.” Can Americans be serious and sincere please?
What they did to Tsvangirai is no different from what they did to Rwandan strong man Paul Kagame. They linked him with terrorists. I am not saying that but they were quoted as thus: “that closer U.S. ties with Rwanda would be a mistake.” To perfect the art they added: “(Judge Burguiere ) one of the leading players in the French fight against terrorism, and a leading world expert in terrorism.” Mind you, Judge Burguiere is the guy that Kagame despises more than anybody when it comes to his allegations and warrants.
All big men did their abracadabra, the rib breaker of all was none other than Botswana’s 57-year old senior bachelor, Khama Ian Khama. Guess what? The gentleman in power was and still is looking for a beauty to make a wife provided she’d not break the presidential bed! This is totally un-African so to speak. In Africa, wealth and power go with protruded tummies and fat ladies.
Though not president herself, Grace Mugabe, too, took the spirit of Zuma by suing Wikileaks for leaking the unclad and stinking truth of her all time border-line wealth.
Anyway, that’s how African strong men and rulers wound the year 2010 up.
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.