We have had the Arab Spring which started in January 2011 with the suicide of Mohamed Bouazzizi in Tunisia and removed President Ben Ali from power.
After Tunisia, Egypt then Libya followed. Some thought that the movement for change would spread in Sub-Sahara. But it did not happen as expected. However it created the hope among many in the region that nothing was impossible.
Firoze Manji and Sokari Ekine referred to the newly created spirit of change as an Africa Awakening in their book published in 2012. There were encouraging stories from Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Mauritania to Sudan passing through Gabon.
In the next five years, there will be 20 African presidents who will have in one way or another to deal with the third term issue.
Marshall van Valen explains in his article Snakes & Leaders: Africa’s political succession published on Friday 20/09/13 in the African Report that
“Although it’s clear that most of the veteran presidents contemplating political successions over the next five years are scheming to prolong their grip on power, it is equally clear they will face a better organized and equipped opposition well able to exploit information technology and social media.”
Having learnt from the recent possibilities available for political change in Africa, the question that many ask is how Africans can capitalise on the experiences seen elsewhere on the continent, and seek change in their own country but in a much more co-ordinated way in order to share the learning.
The divisions among Africans have in many areas worked against their own interests. What would for example happen if Rwandans, Ugandans and Congolese worked together to remove their respective dictatorships? As the latter plot their stay in power, their citizens on their part would organize together to get rid of them.
What if the 20 dictators seeking third terms found themselves not only confronted to their own citizens but also to the rest of other Africans who don’t buy into their abuse of power?
To create such platforms of action, people need to communicate and organize accordingly. They need to overcome their narrow approach of thinking that things aren’t interconnected. A dictatorship in a neighbouring country impacts in some ways on lives and leadership in one given country. The same way goes for democratic rule.
An African Coalition Against Third Terms – ACATT would be a concept worth exploring seriously by forces seeking change across the continent. Its advantage on the current situation would be that it would help create synergies for change which are today lacking.
It is true the African Union has dispositions that deal with governments which become unconstitutional by changing the fundamental law to extend the time in office of their leaders. So far these directives have not been very effective as many examples are there to prove that the Union is not having some tangible impact in that area.
While some dictators are strategizing among themselves on how to remain in power, sometimes helped by external powers interested in the status quo, it is time citizens too across the African borders come together to defeat their clinging onto power which does not improve the wellbeing of the populations.
If you have a concrete idea which you think could help Africans stop once for all third terms on the continent, please email firstname.lastname@example.org