Robert Mugabe has won another term as President following just concluded elections in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai failed in its third attempt to unseat the ailing 89 year old Mugabe.
Our regular contributor Ebenezer Akwanga, Cameroonian human rights activist now in exile in the USA has an acerbic pen and sent us this post mortem of elections that he claims, once again shame the whole of Africa.
When the head of Zimbabwe’s Election Commission Mrs. Rita Makarau declared that the man whom the ailing Nelson Rolihlaha Mandela once mockingly referred to as “Comrade Bob”, the octogenarian 89 year-old Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the son of Shona has won the general elections in Zimbabwe with 61% of the votes – a version so shamelessly twisted that Harare’s cemeteries became a place of agitation by the dead – I realise that Zimbabwe is sick, seriously sick and badly needs the expert knife of a Surgeon to extricate it from an approaching abyss of unstoppable destruction.
When Mrs. Makarau told a news conference that “Mugabe, Robert Gabriel, of ZANU-PF party, is therefore declared duly elected President of the Republic of Zimbabwe …” she did what has become synonymous with orchestrated political fraud in Africa often shrouded in the niceties of democratic elections. We have seen this drama played out in Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadema’s ‘Kingdom’ of Togo; Alain Bernard Bongo a.k.a Ali Bongo Ondimba’s Emirate of Gabon since 2009; Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh’s ‘Marabou Sultanate’ of The Gambia; Paul Barthélemy Biya’a bi Mvondo’s a.k.a Paul Biya of The Masonic Republique du Cameroun – the list is shamefully horrifying and endless. It is the Mark of Horror that is plaguing my beloved continent. What beckons my imagination in all of this is that rather than declare themselves or their families as heir to the throne of power in perpetuity, these men would once every five years and seven years in some instances organise these political masquerades to the detriment of those they have enslaved mystically and physically and the benefit of gluttonous thieving bureaucrats who would follow the dictum of State thievery by using the charade to empty their beleaguered nations’ finances, organise the extra-judicial killings of opponents, orchestrate the psychology of terror in an already fear-drenched community. This is what the lands of my birth have become. This is Africa, a place where dictatorship is a normal thing.
However, the just concluded rigging machinery at work in Zimbabwe has not only exposed the twisted mentality of the son of Nkandla, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma on his understanding of what a ‘free and fair’ election is all about but further added credence to those who had long been of the suspicion that the African Union and its predecessor the OAU have never truly been on the side of the people of Africa – they have been and remain an elite club of master state organised armed robbers, professional assassins and the continent’s rattle snakes who have replaced the once flag-waving colonialist with a brutality against their own kin and kith so horrific, unspeakable and unimaginable. That, with a straight face, Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Matthew Obasanjo representing the African Union and Abie Ditlhake, head of SADC-CNGO’s Observer Mission monitored the same election but concluded differently is ample evidence that Zimbabwe is at the cross-road of self-destruction – a destruction not just of its own making, but one which comes with our collective and most often than not individual blessing.
So, let us not only hail the continent’s presidential emperor Bobby Mugabe as he begins his 34th year in power at the age of 89, but also question the wisdom of Richie Tsvangirai’s 2009 devil’s coalition with Bob or Jake Zuma’s congratulatory message to Emperor Mugabe at a time when even SADC which South Africa is the leading funder doubts the credibility of the entire ‘election process’ – let us simply ask ourselves what is wrong with Africa?
What is wrong with our continent the cradle of civilization that playing ‘God’ has become a normalcy for all those in power? What is really wrong with Africa when the continent’s representative body, the African Union speaks of Zimbabwe’s concluded masquerade not of fairness and the free-will of the Zimbabwean people to choose their leaders but as if it was a contest between violence and peace? What is wrong with Africa? What really is our continent’s bite with multiparty election if not what The Economist best explains in its July 22, 2010 article caption: “African Elections: The Power of the Angry Voter – Even Bad Elections are Better than None”.
To paraphrase the article, it is stated that before elections are held in most of Africa [my say] the authoritarian regimes do “invest a great deal of time and money in ensuring that there could be only one outcome [as Zimbabwe has just shown]. Constituencies [are often] comprehensively gerrymandered. Fake parties [are] created with names that sounded very similar to the real opposition, in order to confuse the largely illiterate voters [as was in Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s Sudan]. NGOs with neutral-sounding names, paid for by the regime, pretended to monitor the results. There were few overt signs of fraud during the voting itself: there was no need for it.
The history of pre-colonial and post-colonial Africa is one coined with two similar faces carrying the mark of the predatory Devil which feeds on the blood of the innocent, the ignorant and the greedy. On a cold and breezy Saturday afternoon in 1983, I returned from school breathlessly sweating from a couple of miles trekking from the slope of Molyko to Bonalyonga in Buea in the British Southern Cameroons when my senior brother of late, Solomon Sammah Mbua a renowned journalist invited me to accompany him for his choir practice holding at the popular Buea Youth Center. He was a founding member of the Mountain Star Singers and Actors (MOSSA), a Buea-based group of international choristers and theatre practitioners.
I vividly remember that day because the hit song was captioned: “Zimbabwe Is Free!” Yes they sang with so much joy and freedom, not just informing the small listening audience at the practice session that Zimbabwe is free, but emphasizing that so too would Namibia be free and in the end Africa would be liberated. As I write this piece, I can still remember those beautiful words of prophesy reverberate in me – yet the recent news from Zimbabwe makes me wonder if the old songs of praise mean anything anymore.
I now wonder whether my beloved brother and his fellow singers were not too optimistic in their ‘realistic hope’ for Africa’s freedom. Or is it not true that Africa’s understanding of the word ‘pluralism’ when it boils down to elections is that which gives those with the power of the gun the unhindered ability to decide the outcome of any election before it even sees the crushing light of public announcement?
What is happening in Zimbabwe today shames the whole of Africa.
The Economist noted that “African leaders are getting better at rigging elections. [However] the riggers’ sophistication is testament not just to their determination to hold on to power, but also to African voters’ growing insistence on having a say”. Thus, however sensible this assertion might seem the war between freedom and tyranny would continue to be a cancer in the continent’s body-politic and election-rigging and reluctance to accept defeat would haunt the Cradle of Civilization for decades to come.
When shall Africa be free?
Ebenezer Derek Mbongo Akwanga Jr