Africa_640x480 Develotion-in-KenyaA study of 204 African presidents between 1960 and 2004 found that of the 204, more than HALF were overthrown. Only 25 retired from office voluntarily of whom only 8 retired between 1960 and 1990.

Yoweri Museveni once declared that ‘no African head of state should be in power for more than 10 years’ explaining that the longer a president is in office, the harder it is to dislodge him democratically. Ironically, Museveni has been the president for over 27 years.

However, Museveni’s hypothesis stands. Perpetual presidencies erode the system of majoritarian democracy. The length of time spent by an incumbent in office gives him the clout to consolidate his position and to de-evolve a democratic state into a pseudo-monarchy if not an outright dictatorship. It creates a patronage network in which successors are handpicked rather than elected into office democratically.

Perpetual rule erode other basic principles of democracy such as accountability, transparency and responsiveness of Government. Perpetual rulers often use underhand tactics such as violence, murder and the abuse of law to exclude competitors which dilutes healthy political competition – a scenario commonplace in the continent. A lack of competition removes the incentive to serve as there is no risk of losing elections. It creates EXCLUSION, ELITISM and DIVISIONS which are the main causes of the increased upheaval in radicalism and insurgencies in the continent. Such perpetual rule also ferments ethnic tensions and heightens insecurity. Marginalisation sentiments and perceptions gave rise to the Hutu Power ideology which exarcebated ethnic tensions and conflict in Rwanda leading to a genocide that butchered over half a million people.

Sadly, Kenya and Nigeria are currently doused in this ‘marginalisation sentiment’ that has led to the growth in prominence of the Al Shabaab and Boko Haram insurgents. Political power, if harnessed well, can cause the ‘South-Eastern Asia Economic Ripple Effect’ in the resource-rich Africa, but politics is also the organised power of one class to oppress another. Maybe
Africa prefers the latter.


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