Short of this leadership style, the political road will no doubt remain rough and uncertain as witnessed in some regions across the continent
By Rev Titus Shem Makuma
The ongoing political turmoil in Africa calls for timely and intentional leadership interventions. The beautiful continent of Africa is evidently faced with a future of political, economic and social uncertainties.
There is no doubt that the desperate outcry of this culturally diverse and visibly vast continent is loudly heard in all spheres of influence namely: the academic arena, the religious circles, the youth and the elderly platforms, the human rights activists, the professional and business circles, the rural and urban environments, the socio-economic and political systems.
The looming questions on the minds of every African- “where is the future of Africa?” “Who should be held accountable for the current political turmoil?” Africa appears to be sailing on a very unstable ‘political ship’ which has no clear bearing and the shipwreck is eminent unless the constitutionally mandated political leaders reconsider their leadership styles.
They need to closely and patiently listen to people’s concerns in order to take right measures. Short of this leadership style, the political road will no doubt remain rough and uncertain as witnessed in some regions across the continent.
The recent political developments have seen Raila Odinga take the oath as the people’s president, after insisting that he will never recognize President Kenyatta’s government. Kenyan government officials had declared the 'swearing in' as an act of treason, however the event was largely peaceful, with no confrontation between Odinga’s supporters and security. Bravo! To the incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta whose wise decision unquestionably saved the lives of many innocent young Kenyans who might have fallen victims of Raila’s uncalculated political gamble.
“...I Raila Amolo Odinga, in full realisation of the high calling, assume the office of the People's President of the Republic of Kenya...Today is a historic day for the people of Kenya, to say enough is enough with election rigging”, Odinga said. "I thank the people of Kenya for showing the rest of the world that a people united shall never be defeated," he added. By doing so, Odinga joined other leaders across Africa who for one reason or another have taken the oath parallel to incumbent presidents.
Uganda’s Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has over the years had a fight with President Yoweri Museveni. In 2016, he unceremoniously swore himself in as the president of Uganda, before he was arrested. “I Kizza Besigye swear in the Name of God…..” he started, declaring himself as People's President and a rightful leader. He made headlines during his so called nation’s address-“What is happening today is not an ordinary swearing in ceremony. This is because our country is in a unique and unenviable place of not running according to the constitution of the Republic of Uganda. This was occasioned by Mr Museveni and his regime trying to use force once again to overthrow the will of the people of Uganda,” he said. Besigye evaded police road block and got into the city for his ceremony but was, however, unceremoniously arrested after the “swearing in ceremony” and held by the Ugandan police.
DRC Congo’s Etienne Tshisekedi, 79, who came second in the November 28, 2011 polls, defied a police ban on his “inauguration”, which had been planned for a football stadium in the capital where police fired teargas to prevent the planned ceremony and just like Raila Odinga of Kenya, he had boycotted the elections. He was later arrested and detained without trial.
The violent post electoral political divide in Ivory Coast in 2010 remains fresh in the minds of many concerned Africans. The two candidates in Ivory Coast’s presidential disputed elections took dueling oaths of office after each claimed victory, as the political crisis spiraled out of control and renewed unrest in the country once split in two by civil war. The then incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo (now being prosecuted at ICC in the Hague as a result of leadership blunders) defied calls from the United States, France and the United Nations to concede defeat, wrapping himself in the Ivorian flag as he was sworn in for another term. Hours later, opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara announced that he too had taken his own oath.
Ivory Coast's long-awaited presidential election was meant to restore stability in what was once one of the most affluent countries in Africa. Instead, the election cast a growing shadow as the country now faced two political rivals who each claimed to be leading the country, hence, north-south political divide. Some 17 years since the death of Ivory Coast's founding president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the country has still to find its way, nostalgic for a past when Ivory Coast was a bastion of stability and prosperity in West Africa.
In Nigeria, Chief Moshood Abiola declared himself president during the military rule of Sani Abacha. He was subsequently arrested and charged with treason. He was jailed for four years until 1995. Similarly, in Gabon, Opposition leader Jean Ping declared himself president and called for a recount of the vote. A recount was carried out and confirmed incumbent President Ali Bongo's win in the polls. However, Mr Ping maintained, “The whole world knows who is President of the Republic, it’s me Jean Ping.
Africa is evidently faced with these political gimmicks but the end of the matter is that Only God can provide right and convincing answers to the political predicament because all human intentions and actions are not hidden from Him! “… Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil,” (Ecc12:13-14). Let’s join hands and work for the good of our beloved continent.
The writer is a lecturer at the Mountains of the Moon University