News that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo (63), the wife of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, charged with committing crimes against humanity is a welcome.
Mrs. Gbagbo and her husband were dug out of the bunker by UN and French forces who assaulted their residence in April 2011 after a five month standoff that left the country paralyzed politically, socially, and economically.
For those who hate the snowballing malpractices whereby the spouses and children of presidents usurp their relatives’ power, such bold move is commendable and welcome. At least, somebody somewhere can keep tabs on these mighty creatures of our dirty politics.
Africa is currently evidencing broad light robbery committed by a new crop of rotten and corrupt rulers who pointlessly allow their families and friends to abusively use their power to rob the public. Almost in many African countries, there are unofficial “presidents” behind the curtain in the name of wives, children and partners, not to mention the cabal of courtiers in the upper echelons of power. They make much money by simply vending the office of the president. In this business of vending presidency, many African countries have become wantonly bankrupt.
Back on Mrs. Gbagbo, the BBC reported of the warrants. It wrote, “She was responsible for the crimes against humanity of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts and persecution.”
Gbagbo’s regime was booted out in 2011 after a long standoff between his forces and those of his former rival-cum-opponent, current President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattra. Gbagbo organized sham elections and once he realized he would not win, he decided to cling unto power unconstitutionally, the move that force international community to intervene. This move saw Gbagbo off from power after chaos left 3,000 people dead and thousands displaced.
Now it is obvious that Gbagbo and his wife are going to face the music. Gbagbo was captured and handed over to the ICC by the authorities in Ivory Coast in April 2011 after his government fell. Apart from facing charges before The Hague, Gbagbo and his wife also were charged with economic crimes such as robbery, looting and embezzlement in Ivory Coast.
Simone, a doctor of History was instrumental ideologically for her husband. She is said to have orchestrated violence against ethnic and religious groups who supported Alassane Ouattara, her husbands rival. She waged unfettered humongous power during her husband’s presidency. Differently from other seating African presidents, the Gbagbos, just like any other African kleptoclatic and nepotic rulers, did involve their children effectively. Gbagbo’s son Michel is facing charges of participating in violence that saw over 3,000 dead. This means that the whole family is behind the bar simply because they were able to abuse the power of the president.
What transpired in Egypt where the former dictator and his sons are behind bars is once again repeating itself in another African country. Like a blind family, there was nobody to warn others of the bandwagon of benefitting from the power of the president. Greed comes first and regrets later the Swahili sage has it. Whether the children are likely to surface before ICC is the matter of time. Given that the whole family partook of the dirty fame of violence, chances are that they’ll be issued with the warrants.
Simone becomes the first African woman and the first “First Lady” to be indicted by ICC. If there is anything Ivoriens won’t forgive Simon for, is nothing but forcing her husband to cling unto power knowingly such a move would lead to mayhem as it subsequently happened.
Now that Simone is facing the charges as a wife and confidante of the president, will the seating presidents, their wives, families, friends and majordomos get it? Again, time will surely tell.
The murder of 34 miners by the South African police, most of them shot in the back, puts paid to the illusion of post-apartheid democracy and illuminates the new worldwide apartheid of which South Africa is both an historic and contemporary model.
In 1894, long before the infamous Afrikaans word foretold “separate development” for the majority people of South Africa, an Englishman, Cecil John Rhodes, oversaw the Glen Grey Act in what was then the Cape Colony. This was designed to force blacks from agriculture into an army of cheap labour, principally for the mining of newly discovered gold and other precious minerals. As a result of this social Darwinism, Rhodes’ own De Beers company quickly developed into a world monopoly, making him fabulously rich. In keeping with liberalism in Britain and the United States, he was celebrated as a philanthropist supporting high-minded causes.
Today, the Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University is prized among liberal elites. Successful Rhodes scholars must demonstrate “moral force of character” and “sympathy for and protection of the weak, and unselfishness, kindliness and fellowship”. The former president Bill Clinton is one, General Wesley Clark, who led the Nato attack on Yugoslavia, is another. The wall known as apartheid was built for the benefit of the few, not least the most ambitious of the bourgeoisie.
This was something of a taboo during the years of racial apartheid. South Africans of British descent could indulge an apparent opposition to the Boers’ obsession with race, and their contempt for the Boers themselves, while providing the facades behind which an inhumane system guaranteed privileges based on race and, more importantly, on class.
The new black elite in South Africa, whose numbers and influence had been growing steadily during the latter racial apartheid years, understood the part they would play following “liberation”. Their “historic mission”, wrote Frantz Fanon in his prescient classic The Wretched of the Earth, “has nothing to do with transforming the nation: it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”.
This applied to leading figures in the African National Congress, such as Cyril Ramaphosa, head of the National Union of Mineworkers, now a corporate multi-millionaire, who negotiated a power-sharing “deal” with the regime of de F.W. Klerk, and Nelson Mandela himself, whose devotion to an “historic compromise” meant that freedom for the majority from poverty and inequity was a freedom too far. This became clear as early as 1985 when a group of South African industrialists led by Gavin Reilly, chairman of the Anglo-American mining company, met prominent ANC officials in Zambia and both sides agreed, in effect, that racial apartheid would be replaced by economic apartheid, known as the “free market”.
Secret meetings subsequently took place in a stately home in England, Mells Park House, at which a future president of liberated South Africa, Tabo Mbeki, supped malt whisky with the heads of corporations that had shored up racial apartheid. The British giant Consolidated Goldfields supplied the venue and the whisky. The aim was to divide the “moderates” – the likes of Mbeki and Mandela – from an increasingly revolutionary multitude in the townships who evoked memories of uprisings following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and at Soweto in 1976 – without ANC help.
Once Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the ANC’s “unbreakable promise” to take over monopoly capital was seldom heard again. On his triumphant tour of the US, Mandela said in New York: “The ANC will re-introduce the market to South Africa.” When I interviewed Mandela in 1997 – he was then president – and reminded him of the unbreakable promise, I was told in no uncertain terms that “the policy of the ANC is privatisation”.
Enveloped in the hot air of corporate-speak, the Mandela and Mbeki governments took their cues from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. While the gap between the majority living beneath tin roofs without running water and the newly wealthy black elite in their gated estates became a chasm, finance minister Trevor Manuel was lauded in Washington for his “macro-economic achievements”. South Africa, noted George Soros in 2001, had been delivered into “the hands of international capital”.
Shortly before the massacre of miners employed for a pittance in a dangerous, British-registered platinum mine, the erosion of South Africa’s economic independence was demonstrated when the ANC government of Jacob Zuma stopped importing 42 per cent of its oil from Iran under intense pressure from Washington. The price of petrol has already risen sharply, further impoverishing people.
This economic apartheid is now replicated across the world as poor countries comply with the demands of western “interests” as opposed to their own. The arrival of China as a contender for the resources of Africa, though without the economic and military threats of America, has provided further excuse for American military expansion, and the possibility of world war, as demonstrated by President Barack Obama’s recent arms and military budget of $737.5 billion, the biggest ever. The first African-American president of the land of slavery presides over a perpetual war economy, mass unemployment and abandoned civil liberties: a system that has no objection to black or brown people as long as they serve the right class. Those who do not comply are likely to be incarcerated.
This is the South African and American way, of which Obama, son of Africa, is the embodiment. Liberal hysteria that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is more extreme than Obama is no more than a familiar promotion of “lesser evilism” and changes nothing. Ironically, the election of Romney to the White House is likely to reawaken mass dissent in the US, whose demise is Obama’s singular achievement.
Although Mandela and Obama cannot be compared – one is a figure of personal strength and courage, the other a pseudo political creation — the illusion that both beckoned a new world of social justice is similar. It belongs to a grand illusion that relegates all human endeavour to a material value, and confuses media with information and military conquest with humanitarian purpose. Only when we surrender these fantasies shall we begin to end apartheid across the world.
Whenever I meet or watch some ministers in Canada driving their cars I remember home with indignation. When I look at how simple the Prime Minister of Canada is, I remember Africa with sadness. Many questions have been disturbing me since I arrive here. Why do African ministers, RCs or PCs and DCs have drivers instead of driving themselves as it is in rich countries? Why do presidents have many bodyguards and helpers compared to their rich counterparts?
If anyone can nail down the answers of those questions above, she or he will be able to start pinning down the formula of freeing Africa from manmade penury. Many African governments are unnecessarily bigger than the economies of the countries they are running. Extravagance is the suitable term to use when it comes to African governments’ spending. Accountability is the foreign vocabulary for African governments. Alas, many African presidents are constitutionally above the law so are the members of their families! This enables them to make all blunders and get away with it.
The lack of accountability for Africa’s rulers trickles down to their appointees. The chain of reactions goes in this manner down to the mere sweeper or office attendant.
African rulers are not only above the law but also have the discretion of appointing any number and type of people they deem fit to form their governments. Recently, Malawi’s President Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika appointed the first lady Callista to be a minister for a newly fabricated ministry of Safe Motherhood. Mutharika went ahead appointing his brother, Peter Mutharika, minister for Foreign Affairs without any doubt.
In Uganda, just like Malawi, the first lady, Janet Museveni, is the minister for her husband fabricated Karamoja Affairs docket. In essence, Museveni and Mutharika appointed their wives to enable them access to resources and fat perks just like other high rank appointees. African rulers reward relationship, connection, loyalty and sycophancy.
Nepotism and cronyism can also be openly seen in in the son of Senegal president, Karim Wade, who soon after his father ascended to power, was named Personal Advisor to the President of the Republic, in charge of implementing major restructuring projects, among which were the New International Airport of Diass, the restructuring of Chemical Industries of Senegal (Industries Chimiques du Senegal, ICS), and the creation of the special integrated economic zone of Dakar.
After being his father’s advisor, Karim was promoted as Minister of State for International Cooperation, Regional Development (Aménagement du territoire), Air Transport, and Infrastructure. In principle, Karim is no different from Christel Denis Sassou Ngweso or Theodoro Obiang Jr. in the current corrupt and nepotic regimes in Africa. This also was evidenced in Egypt and Libya where the sons of the fallen tyrants would command much and unchecked powers simply because their fathers were presidents.
These are what Niccolo Machiavelli in his book “The Prince” regarded as princes to whom the end justifies the means. The princes or call them freaks, can go over the line without being questioned for they are themselves the power to reckon with within the system in which their relative, father or husband is the pillar. The system always does just that, to kow-tow before this selfish gang of thieves.
Apart from appointing their relatives African president are at liberty to appoint their court jesters and whizkids to whatever position they deem fit. This loophole is used to creating unnecessary ministeries like Safe Motherhood in Malawi or Karamoja Affairs in Uganda.
While presidents have the discretionary powers to appoint their relatives, even their appointees do the same. In the end, the big chunk of power and benefits ends in hands of nepotic regime so to speak. Again this typifies what is currently going on in African countries whether headed by tyrants or democrats.
Many African presidents and their ministers travel abroad a lot, whether doing their private business or government business. This is why many African budgets serve to pay salaries and emoluments for the officials of government instead of development. In this year’s budget, Tanzania’s budget Tshs 5,226.9 Billion went to paying for salaries and running the government whislt Tshs 1,942.4 Billion went to development.
The situation is the same all over Africa. Budgets for running the governments made of a cabal of a few bureaucrats and bootlickers. In essence, the said budgets are passed to serve rulers and their appointees, but not the people. How can budgets serve the people where there is not accountability?
Before being booted out of power, Libyan tyrant, Muammar Gadaffi, lived a deceptive life by sleeping in the tent as symbol of simplicity and likeness with common Libyans. Before falling from grace, no common citizen had ever peeped in the mansions of his children despite being built and kept by the taxes of the common man and woman. Common people were not allowed to get close to these highly guarded villas, Gadaffi’s children used to either live in or use in summer.
Gadaffi’s deception is a typical replica of the lives of the relatives of African presidents. Though they rub shoulders with common people during campaigns, once they ascend to power, they deny the hoi polloi access even to the state houses under the pretext of security. Is the security concern or fear of opening their secrets, especially the high life they live?
Libyans did not know the guy they use to refer to as a beloved leader, lived in a manmade paradise whilst the majority lived in penury! So too, Libyans did not know that Gadaffi’s children lived like billionaires, despite doing nothing except allocating themselves some unconstitutional positions thanks to their father’s presidency. Indeed, Libyans did not know that Gadaffi was travelling on the extra and utra luxurious jet full of expensive gadgets. His was well and more furnished than that of the president of the richest nation on earth, Air Force One, US presidential jet.
One thing is obvious. Libyans knew Gadaffi robbed money he used to squander in many African countries in the name of spreading Islam through unification of Africa and buying leverage from destitute African rulers. Libyans knew this too well. Those who tried to stand in his way saw the gallows. Those who supported this megalomia are now heading for gallows, shall the new regime decided so. While Gadaffi did all this to and for Africa, he did not regard himself an “African”. When cornered the vulture cries the wolf. Gadaffi was an Arab, till Arab League abandoned him at the very moment of need. He was quoted as thus in March: “From today I am not an Arab but an African.” This racist remarks came after Gadaffi threatened Europe that he would deludge it with “ignorant Africans” running away from poverty.
For the first time, Africans who goofed thinking Gadaffi was an African, got their message clearly and bruntly. Despite this insult, African rulers did not hate or love him except his petrodollars. Either they ignored him or he outsmarted them, when he invited them to yum-yum and whiffs of money in his home town of Sirte in the name of African Unification. Gadaffi’s extravagance in the name of Africa and Islam is costing Africa dearly. The new regime has openly shown hatred to African countries as its quid pro quo for supporting Gadaffi.
In essence, just like other African potantates, Gadaffi was a good swindler and hypocrite. He was able to extravagate billions of dollars building many mosques whilst he kept idols as opposed to Islam he served. How could Gadaffi be a good, even a normal Muslim whilst his house was full of idols glorifying him as oppsed to Islam? How would he be able to steal money to buy golden idols like Nebuchadnezzar and at the same time remain a Muslim? How would he be a Muslim by surrounding himself with women as opposed to Islamic code that does not allow women and men to mix?
The irony is AU and Muslims that used to benefit from Gadaffi’s charity were not ready to tell him the truth. How would they cut the hand that used to feed them even if it was dirty? Muslims can defend themselves that they did not know Gadaffi was keeping idols. What of this open secret of being accompanied by lady bodyguards?Another irony is the fact that when Gadaffi was overpowered, the same blind Muslim leaders were heard inspiring their fellowers to pray for him. It was too late and this is hypocrisy for the other side of beneficiaries of looted money.
After all, Gadaffi will remember AU for one thing, it did not abandon him at the time of need when the whole world was against him. Why didn’t AU recognize National Transitional Council of Libya? The answer is simple that most of African rulers were on Gadaffi’s payroll and they are like Gadaffi waiting for what happened to him, to happen to them. Therefore they woud not support the same weapon that is directed to them.
What do you think of the rulers of Algeria, Burkinafaso, Chad, Congo, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Morocco, Mauritania, Rwanda, Togo, Sudan Kaskazini, Uganda and Zimbabwe? Can presidents of aforelisted countries laugh at Gadaffi or avoid what befell him if their citizenry decided to get rid of dictators? If they do, well, it will be madness of its kind.
Gadaffi’s true self reveals the true self of African rulers who live more posh lives than those financing them. The presidents of rich countries do not have as many bodyguards or long motorcades as African tyrants have. African rulers lack vision and good plans. They only know how to exploit and rob their hoi polloi.
It is sad for people like Gadaffi to accuse the West for the miseries of African people who are suffering, while they are the authors of all these miseries. Libyans reached at the point where they could go without salaries while Gadaffi and his dynasty were extravagating!
Although Gadaffi liked to be referred to as beloved leader, he was but a common thug who hijacked his people for over four decades. His African counterparts should brace themselves for what happened to Gadaffi. The time for turning all stone is coming. Who will survive it in Africa? How many African tyrants have allowed their offices to be a family business where their wives, children and friends robs the way they deem fit? The end is approaching. Those with ears should heed this.
On 30thDecember 2006, the world witnessed humiliating hanging of Saddam Hussein, former Iraq’s tyrant, after being arrested bolted in a spider hole. Many thought other dictators would make a note of the sudden and unceremoniously demise and downfall of Saddam. Go figure. They didn’t because of arrogance and faint memories.
In essence, dictators are like goats. When you shout at a goat to stop damaging your garden it thinks this was long time ago. When you shout again, the goat thinks this was yesterday. But when you pick a stone and land it on it, that’s when the goat realizes it is today. This was five years down the line. Just recently in February 2011, two strong men in Egypt and Tunisia were pulled down, not to mention Laurent Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast. Again, other dictators like Col. Muamar Gadaffi who followed six months thereafter, did not take any note, save to ridicule the wave and wind of change.
When Gadaffi, a self-made-king of kings of Africa was asked his views and how domino effects in Egypt and the impact they would have on his country, he dismissively retorted saying that Libya was not Egypt. Therefore, such a thing would not happen to his regime. Little did he know it would happen just within six months!
Now that Libya’s tyrant Gadaffi has fallen from grace quickly and unceremoniously, many would think other waiting potentates would take a note. Their mindsets make them blind and thus do not to see the impending danger that always hovers over their nasty regimes. Are the seating spared of this hallucination and blindness? Nay!
Just like allied forces did to Saddam, Gadaffi was brought down after international forces struck him, especially NATO, that broke the backbone of his regime. Now that Gadaffi’s rule is history, will he and his sons face the same fate Saddam an his stupid kids faced? Will the waiting dictators make a note of what transpired in Libya really? Methinks, nay. If anything, African dictators will not miss Gadaffi, but the petrodollars he stole from his poor people and used to throw at them so as to buy their leverage.
If dictators had any memory, Africa South of Saharan dictators would make a note that what they regard as powerful regimes they man, are but houses of cards. They will crumble just easily shall the hoi polloi decided to take on them. Again, will they take a note? Nay, they won’t. Why? Because most if not all are but megalomaniac, full of myopia and hallucination to put it simple. Unfortunately, dictators think they are smart while in actual fact are but dolts. Take it from me. Many dictators still wrongly think like Gadaffi used to think, that what happened in Libya cannot happen in their countries.
What happened in Libya though leaves one question, when will people in SSA take on their dictators? This is very important. For there are many of Gadaffi like in SSA in countries like Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Gabon, Togo and Sudan. So too, in the same Maghreb, are countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and Syria in the north. Will those dictators ruining those countries take a heed? To know how actually goof, look at how Yemeni Dictator Abdullah Saleh was badly injured and yet still wants to return in office despite all noises of Saleh go.
Just like other dictators in the Sub Saharan Africa, Saleh still thinks that, despite the writings on the wall, his regime will not crumble just like Gadaffi’s. Those in the south still goof saying what happened in Maghreb are for Arabs not Africans. In simple terms, dictators in the south, like fallen Gadaffi, are authoring their own demise and exit. Will the wave and wind of change sweep across Sahara?
Why did Gadaffi repressive regime crumble easily in the first place? Firstly, it had two cracks within. One was the fact that power was within the hands of a family and a few congliore. Secondly, NATO’s ferocious attacks. Though NATO played a decisive role in suffocating Gadaffi, looking at what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. Cracks within the regimes are the major cause of their demise so to speak.
There are some lessons from the fall of Gadaffi and other dictators. First of all, many weapons dictators pile up to defend themselves, are the best capital when citizenry decide to take on them.
Secondly, the vacuums and vaingloriousness dictators create is another nugget when it comes to topple them. For when faced with threats of being toppled, the system that depends on one person, finds itself overwhelmed with the burden of decision making at the time of emergency. The shape and scope of the system is basically determined by one person.
Thirdly, apart from being delusional, dictators are like barking dog that does not bite. They use all types of threats whilst at hearts they know how bogus and coward they are.
Fourthly, almost all dictators are cowards that hide their weakness behind immense powers they command.
Fifthly, all dictators live in the state of hallucination and phantasmagoria, believing they won’t fall at any circumstance, hence become myopic about their fates and plights. So too, even though their regimes are the most hated, dictators daydream that they are loved. It is even sad to find dictators like Yoweri Museveni who toppled other dictators live just like them.
Sixth, African Union has proved to be as useless as never before. For when the crisises in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia started, it was left out, thereby the Arab League taking over the role it would have played. Also it must be noted, AU was openly supporting dictators thanks to being comprised of many member countries ruled by dictators.
In sum, though Gadaffi is going down as one of the most autocratic ruler, he’ll be remembered for his support to liberation movements in good and bad light. A last killer fact is that Gadaffi despite all his extravagance, different from other African fallen dictators who left their countries in abject poverty, left billions of dollars the west froze and unfreeze for the new regime to begin with. This is the good side of the fallen tyrant.