By Tatiana Maleba-Garcia
In 2010, we had elections in a number of African countries. Among these were Ethiopia of Meles Zenawi, Burundi of Pierre Nkurunziza and Rwanda of Paul Kagame. In all these countries, election results were known in advance, not because incumbent leaders were popular but only they have the means to impose them. Political opponents, human right activists, journalists, and ordinary people have been kidnapped, killed, imprisoned, or harassed in big numbers. Early this year, Joweri Museveni of Uganda added another five years to his already twenty five as president of his country. In November 2011, there will be presidential elections in Democratic Republic of Congo. Tatiana Maleba-Garcia, Congolese political activist, with reference to these upcoming elections in her country, describes a picture of the situation Africans are confronted with in the political arena. Her original text is in French. The following is its English translation.
The ‘international community’ has accustomed us to an irrational democracy in Africa. When a President who ensures some continuity in exploiting our wealth by foreign structures wins rigged elections, even if his hands are covered with blood of his citizens, he is applauded and congratulated. And we must comply with the ‘elected’ leader’s policies. When it is a patriot who refuses to abide by the directives of imperialist forces and becomes a candidate, they are demonized, and everything is put in place for them to lose the election. And if against external powers’ expectations patriotic candidates manage to win, their countries are destabilized.
In the 21st century, the fundamental question that African countries should address is to know whether not, in the short term, their populations can succeed in leading effectively their nations and be able to exploit their resources for the benefit of their people and continent, using their skills and outcomes from their national wealth. The enormous African resources have primarily to enrich Africans first. And African governments have among their major responsibilities to stop the ongoing looting of our resources by foreign predators. This does not exclude exchange or cooperation between nations in a globalized world. But we do not want to have imposed leaders on our heads through tolerated and sometimes sponsored coup d’état, or elections called democratic but rigged in advance. We would certainly be better off without corrupted public officers.
Presently, a significant fraction of Africans understands well the political game which has gone on far too long plaid by the West at the expense of their nations. Root causes of armed conflicts in Africa result undoubtedly in one way or another from institutionalized corruption, lack of democracy, and rigged elections. There is no African country which, during presidential elections, does not experience arrests of political leaders or workers’ representatives, even human right activists, because of their opinions. For example by publicly denouncing on an international media how an electoral process is flawed, when it really effectively is, they risk being tracked, arrested and imprisoned by the regime.
There is also a lack of information which is deliberately orchestrated by the regime in place. The intention is to confuse electors in the process, by so doing creating a favorable ground for rigging. Such situation becomes possible because we don’t have effective opposition political parties against incumbent regimes. There are no radical reforms within the opposition with the purpose of achieving democratic changes. Such aims are absent and have never existed. Consequently, political opponents act artificially as if they were against the regime. Politically we experience a statu quo. Nothing is changing: the political language they use, even their objectives; their proposals are empty packages.
Ordinary people who believe in democratic values travel to polling stations in big numbers thinking they are performing their civic and political rights. They spend whole days in the sun waiting to cast their vote. And the next day they find that their vote was not accounted for or has been wasted because the election was rigged in advance. How do we address this vicious imbroglio? Unless a political tsunami occurs, or a tectonic shake up still unknown from scientists, or a radical revolution, none of existing premises will change. As they say, ‘No pain, No gain.’