Compiled by Sylvester Munanjala Jr in Lusaka, Zambia
Last Wednesday July 3rd, the Egyptian army toppled Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi after just one short year in power. Adly Mansour is the new president the army selected to be the new strongman and by choosing a civilian, the Egyptian army left its critics wondering what to call the take-over- a coup or a revolution.
Under American law, the difference could affect its annual $1.3 Billion military aid to Egypt, the biggest and most influential power in the middle east and a strategic ally of the US in the region. President Obama and his close aides might be perplexed about the complications in Egypt but most human right activists’ are not. The July 3rd army take-over fits all the classic description of a coup; the sudden deposition of a government usually by a small group of establishment officials-typically the military, to replace it either with a military or civilian official.
The army used the demonstrations of millions of ordinary Egyptians calling on the Islamist president Morsi to resign as an excuse to intervene and claimed it seized power to satisfy the people.
However, one of the greatest problems the African continent has faced since independence in the late fifties and sixties is the failure of leadership. There are fewer coups on the continent now.
As debate continues whether last Wednesday’s actions in Egypt was a coup or a revolution, we asked some Africans if it is good or bad for the army to intervene in politics either to overthrow leaders who refuse to step down or to satisfy angry demonstrators as was the case in Egypt. Read on.
Kungan Rosy, university student Douala, Cameroon
In my opinion, I think the army rightly belongs to army barracks. Having said that, I also think the role of the army is to defend the country and its people. So if a people are being mistreated or if politicians are not ruling a country the way they should, then why should the army standby and watch?
I think the Egyptian military did a good job. If not of the restrains they showed while Mubarak was still in power, there would have been carnage in Egypt during the first revolution. I don’t think I have read much about an army that takes sides with the people against the wishes of their leaders. The situation in Egypt was extraordinary. Usually, we hear of leaders asking the army to crush a revolution and those orders are executed to the letter. So, I believe the army should stand up and be counted when leaders are taking their constituents for a ride. I know this might sound like biting the finger that feeds you.
Liness Namfukwe 21, Business woman, Lusaka Zambia
Well I don’t really know much about Egypt, but if it were to happen to my country (Zambia) I’d say army intervention is okay because if a leader is not doing his job, then there’s no point in keeping him there.
If a president stubbornly wants to hold on to power and refuses to step down despite a loud call from the people for him to step down, then it would be best if the army came in to do it’s job (coup). The army then needs to decide if it will rule directly or appoint a civilian to rule as is the case in Egypt.
Mercy Juliana Ndalama, 21 Finance Officer, Lusaka Zambia
Well to some extent, it is the best way. if the intention of the army is to hand over power to someone responsible and determined to take a country to the ‘promised land’, then its ok for the army to do so.
But if the army wants to assume power for power’s sake, it’s a different story. Their reason for taking over power must be to protect the people’s interest.
Judas Jude Ebile. Film maker, Yaounde-Cameroon
The army should stay out of politics
Countries should have fixed terms of offices for presidents and other officials and emergency regulations should be put in place which are neutral enough to handle situations like what happened in Egypt. An army coup is always wrong
What happened in Egypt means that at any moment, a president can be toppled through a coup because that’s is what happened in Egypt. There is nothing like a “legal coup”. That is a ridiculous notion.
Every country should have a house of representative which has the right to have a vote of no confidence on a government or the president. if the house doee that, then the president can be asked to resign.
That sort of approach is better but any such action needs to be carried out in parliament and not an abrupt and unconstitutional army take-over.
I don’t also support a coup to take out any long serving president. There are democratic methods to kick out a president. The army should not be doing that.
What do you want from a top flight manager, because most presidents or Head of States are that. Effective utilization of the resources of the State for optimal production. So whether the top state manager comes in wearing army fatigues or a business suit will not make much difference if he was doing his job well and respected the social etiquette of not overstaying their tenure.
The problem is that most African presidents are not doing the jobs they were hired to do well, and often metarmophos into sit-tight strongmen. Naturally, voters want them out of office. .
The snag is that these hired managers with all the privileges that their offices bring, often tamper with the clauses and mechanisms of rendering such clauses effective. In effect making the game a one-man show and guaranteeing their victory against their employers anywhere if taken to court. Now the courts are just an institution among many that strives to maintain balance in the mechanisms on which the state or society operates. By chnaging these mechanisms to their advantage, the sit-tight strongmen of the continent have effectively become cheats. So when dealing with a cheat, what do you do to ensure some measure of success? You become a cheat. But remember if that cheating should become the norm in that society and offset the balance in the equilibrium cherish by the vast majority, another cheat will get to cheat on the cheat. And the cycle will never be broken.
Coups really are not the problem. The problem is that presidents need to understand that as managers and most importantly as citizens, they should strive to uphold their constitutions and the various institutions created by the former. Without these, the state morphs each time another new strong man emerges. And my goodness, we all know how much waste this can produce. Our continent is littered with evidence from such behavior from almost every polity.
I am comforted that military academies across the continent train some of the best minds the continent can offer, and as these officers get into the mud of state manager, they are quickly understanding that it is not all about the brute force of sophisticated weaponry but the subtleties of bringing improvements to the lives of their fellow citizens.
In military fatigues or not, if the top manager should ascribe to respecting the rules of the game while striving to improve the lot of their fellow citizens, who cares if she or he is in fatigues or a business suit. We all admire these outfits but sometimes not the murky characters who put them on