TAKE A CUE FROM MISTAKES IN OTHER COUNTRIES : AFRICAN VOTERS URGED.
One of Sierra Leone’s prominent politicians once remarked that the ‘plasas’ or source of politics is lies. Politics cannot be eaten and enjoyed if it is not spiced with lies,the politician said. I will not fault him because, Sierra is entering the challenging process of learning and properly experiencing the challenges and exigencies of democracy.
Recent elections on the continent produced shocking results, almost all the incumbents were defeated. Some African countries are also going to have their elections soon and as usual, parties are vigrously campaigning to explain their policies to the electorates. There is a lot we can learn from the advanced countries who have become veterans in maintaining democratic values and one of such values is vigilance on the part of the electorates. Lies, propaganda and deceit have become the potent weapon of politicians on the continent.
They capitalise on the peoples vulnerability to perpetuate their tricks on them. This can be seen in the manner in which various innuendos and false allegations have been peddled as truth in an attempt to tarnish the other party’s image. But in this clearly desperate manner of maligning each other, African politicians might as well be dragging the name of their countries into the mud and thereby making it impossible for positive development to be achieved.
Practical examples are Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi. Ghanaians went to the polls last December and the result still remains a shocking news to many journalists and world leaders especially, those who visited the West African country before the elections. The country saw massive transformation in terms of infrastructure and human development index under the administration and became a shining example for most African countries.
Journalists from other African countries used Ghana’s model of socio-economic transformation as yardstick in measuring performance of their governments. It was therefore surprising when voters kicked out the government in the December election.As at the time that most African countries are struggling to provide electricity to their people, Ghana under the last administration had covered about 80% of the country and rated second to South Africa. The Ghanaian leader became the toast of many journalists on the continent who mobbed him wherever they met him for interview. Ghanaians have started complaining of hardship. Policies outlined by the new administration are almost the same policies it condemned in opposition, the security situation in the country is deteriorating, payment of workers salary has become a problem, the country’s power crisis which was solved by the last administration has returned affecting businesses.
Reuters and other renowned international groups have predicted doom for the country if the current administration sticks to its outmoded economic policies and lack of interest in rural development. The case of Nigeria is no different. Africa’s most populous state is experiencing serious economic challenges under the current administration. Joyce Banda initiated austerity measures that won approval from the international community but were not popular at home. The opposition peddled falsehoods and half truth to confuse the people of Malawi. Her policies were somewhat effective as donors resumed a flow of funding to Malawi and the country’s economic growth rate more than doubled during her first two years Attempts were made to assassinate Paul Mphwiyo who was appointed by Banda to investigate government corruption. The “cash gate” scandal became an albatross on her government and the opposition used that as its main propaganda message to incite the public against the regime. Malawians are today asking for the return of Joyce Banda.
The focus is now on Kenya.
The country will soon go the polls to elect a new leader, or retain the incumbent. The East African country has seem massive transformation under the current administration, over 800 housing units constructed at Kibera Soweto East alongside construction of classrooms, offices and sanitary facilities at Mukhaweli school in Bungoma county, the teachers service commission has so far digitized over 6,000 teachers, while the ministry of lands, Housing and Urban development is currently digitizing and developing the national land information management systems, the government through the ministry of devolution has established eleven centres to take services closer to the people,some 325 megawatts of power have been injected into the national grid. About 280MW of this energy was generated from Olkaria, 25MW from geothermal well heads and 20MW of wind at Ngong Hill. As at Dec 2014, Kengena TMs installed capacity was at 1,575 MW. The government has embarked on an ambitious plan to connect 22,000 primary schools to the national grid and solar energy
The President signed an agreement worth Sh38billion that will see 98 county hospitals equipped with cancer and dialysis machines,the Jomo Kenyatta international airport terminal 2 has been upgraded raising the number of passengers from 2.5 million to 7.5 million, a 200% increase.Government has embarked on slum upgrading in Kibra,Korogocho,Mathera and Nyalenda in Kisumu.The Programme has employed over 3,000 community youth on casual basis and established 15 village committees to spearhead the programme.
These interventions are what the people need but which were denied them because of the type of governance system and policies practiced over the years. Kenyans are likely to experience sharp reverses if the people change the status quo. Militarism has affected many African countries in the past and the new cancer is reckless change of regimes in the name of change. As other African countries prepare to go to the polls,I pray they are not misled by the Dutch disease. The current situation in Ghana and Nigeria must be guide as voters in other sister African countries jack up to exercise their franchise. Africa needs visionary leaders to lead its socio economic liberation fight.
That notwithstanding, African leaders must know that power can be elusive for those who have lost it, there is a need to brood over what has apparently been a spilt like milk and equally so,there is no need to be reculcitrant in accepting defeat where it is unnecessary.In the midst of underdevelopment and poverty, only a unified nation can succeed. African leaders must learn from the Mahama of Ghana, Goodluck of Nigeria, Banda and others before them who exhibited same maturity and decency.
Source: Festus Kituyi
(The Sunshine Newspaper, Kenya and Reporter for Reuters)