Bad omen of Africa’s power-sharing governments

IF results in Zimbabwe’s 2008 general elections are something to go by, the recently installed power-sharing government has more negatives than positives for the rest of Africa. To some extent, it is a bad lesson Zimbabwe learnt from Kenya, whose last elections (2007), too, were a defilement of democracy.

It is an undeniable truth that in both countries, incumbents lost elections but clang to power. Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki broke world records by taking the oath of office within half an hour after the controversial results had been announced – paving way for public protests that led to catastrophic tribal clashes, people displacements, bloodshed and deaths throughout the country. He had to give in to opposition demands and international pressure to form an inclusive, power-sharing government in a new constitutional set up.

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe used police and the army to terrorize opposition supporters after learning that he lost the election. His incumbency and political tricks earned him only 43 percent of popular votes, while his rival Morgan Tvangirai got 47 percent – 4 percent short of consitutional requirement to declare him winner! But Mugabe eventually emerged winner in a second round that he managed to contest unopposed after Tsvangirai withdrew in protest to Mugabe’s dirty and brutal tactics against the opposition.

Again, public disapproval and international pressure have forced Mugabe to accept the reality of sharing power with the opposition – that had won the popular vote in the first place.

And if there are any winners, Mugabe and Kibaki are. But they are not happy because they are evil winners! They know how much they lost people’s trust and support. In both cases, the truth that keeps running and ringing is that losers were declared winners against people’s wishes.

And the lesson it gives to the rest of Africa – which is still struggling to find its place in the democratic world – is a bad one. Incumbent losers will never relinquish power. They will seek to rule in a power-sharing government because it is becoming a fashion, a way to legitimize evil-earned power.

As it goes, Zimbabwe and Kenya are setting an evil precedent for the rest of Africa. And given the fact the Zimbabwe power-sharing government was eventually mediated by leaders of the Southern African Development Countries (SADC), it is deliberately becoming a political blessing to the tricks of rigging elections.

We may not have to wait long before witnessing the third power-sharing government. Will it be Zanzibar’s turn after October 2010 elections?

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe







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