Today’s powerful African autocrats are the spice of struggles by African strong men to sustain their thrones, composite wealth and egos too. They run roughshod over their people, destroy any attempts at rule by democracy, and crush the concept of popular, by the people, leadership. It would seem the time is ripe for focus on this negative ethos, as we venture into another year, when resolutions for the good are supposedly made.
There are always golden opportunities to turn over a new leaf for future excellence, none, more so, than in big bad Africa. African politicians seem so experient in failing to grasp the opportunity of doing the right thing. Zimbabwe is very much a case in point, although one could easily identify dozens of despotic Africa countries where similar opportunities unfold. Sadly, many more of them are beyond help.
Let us make a fleeting visit to how the casual observer perceives Zimbabwe’s strong man philosophies. One might start with anti-British sentiment and then bitter condemnation of colonialism! These are such stale historic themes, yet the old guard still cherish their rusty revolution against these apparent evils for ugly sins of the past. With old school nationalism one must throw in virulent, yet ludicrous, anti-white emotions too (many label this racism) and definitely, perhaps more violently, the chalky liberator’s phobic dislike of opposition and everything for which it stands.
Upon these shaky platforms come the threats… the promises to grab assets and deprive, to nationalise and caste out those who do not fit their mythic indigenous mould. Too often they make good their promise. Dare not criticise the party, for you commit treason against the state. One will then understand the evolution of a partisan civil service and armed forces too, and then we marvel as these creatures of antediluvian tradition as they oppose transparency to cover-up their transgressions of rule. Does this sound familiar?
The by-product of this acuity, if indeed this is correct, has been a meandering away from democracy, towards autocracy, if not dictatorship. There is alleged abuse of human rights, if not war crimes too, consolidation of absolute power and subversion through schemes of patronage blessing those kowtowing few of their ilk, with the loot of subjugation. Add to this allegations of corruption, violence, homicide and assault to the extent that misguided, bitter party youth acquire the vehement ethos of British football hooligans.
There is no growth or development, no new, young ideas. Change is absent from agendas and challenges are quickly stifled. There is no engagement with trivial foes or any adjustment of values for the good of the common people. Zimbabwe, it seems, has gone stale and remains lodged in the nationalist time warp of the liberation war. Those who sculptured this self benevolent way question their rejection, the disinvestment, targeted sanctions, but cannot see the poverty and ruin for the destruction around them.
Are these the real attributes of peace loving Zimbabweans? No, but their politics is littered with them. It is time to take a trip down opportunity lane. It is all about attitude really, a resolution in the new year to change from tyrants to loved and respected, chosen leaders; benefactors of the people and the nation rather than themselves; developers of proud nations rather than the making of laughing stock; and health and prosperity rather than poverty blamed on all but themselves.
Attitude is a powerful thing, perhaps more powerful than the power itself. If Africa’s mighty men continue to harp on their musty history, stirring up the emotions of hatred and division, jealousy and mistrust of the past, then they will never secure the future level playing field for development and social betterment of this rich continent. Question is who of Africa’s strong-men is potent enough to lead the way with Olive branches, or release the dove, and withdraw of the gauntlet against spurious adversaries of the mind? If they do not get into gear soon, others will. Africa is too rich to lose the opportunity