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A wake up call for African leaders

Vanguard

A wake up call for African leaders

By Ayodele Adio

AT a rally in Chinhoyi, his home province, AT a rally in Chinhoyi, his home province,  President Robert Mugabe told thousands of jubilant supporters that he won’t be stepping down and no other Zimbabwean had the political stature to take over from him. The 93 year old ‘sit tight’ president had just returned from his third medical trip to Singapore this year alone. Perhaps, president Mugabe might need to revisit his independence speech delivered in 1980 when he declared that “the wrongs of the past must stand forgiven and forgotten.

It could never be a correct justification that because the whites oppressed us when they had power, the blacks must oppress today because we have power”. Unfortunately, like many other African leaders before and after Mugabe, he has become to his people the very demon they sought to cast. Yes, they struggled for the independence of their people, however, a false entitlement has over fed their egos to the point where state power has become a weapon for oppression rather than a tool for liberation and development.Even Kwame Nkrumah, foremost Pan Africanist, and first elected president of Ghana, turned his country to a one party state in 1964 barely four years after the country had become a republic.

He was ousted in 1966 by a coup that was widely celebrated largely because the man who was supposed to blow the dust off their eyes had pepper in his mouth. It is safe to say that many Africans confuse activism with governance and the consequence is a continent struggling to raise her head above water.Ask why these leaders hardly surrender power via an open and transparent democratic process, their response more often is that they need to stabilise the country.

The evidence however proves otherwise. The stifling of the political climate and a total disdain for political opposition has continued to instigate violence and blood  letting across several countries within the continent.In April, main opposition leader in Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema,  was arrested and charged with treason for refusing to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s convoy. Barely a few weeks later, Savior Chishimbe was arrested on live television for defaming the president. Not to mention Nigeria where a small group of harmless protesters were tear gassed and roughened just for demanding that their president who has been out of the country on a medical trip for over three months without a word to those who elected him, should resume office or resign.

As I write this piece, violence has broken out in Kenya because Raila Odinga has rejected the results of a fiercely contested election that saw Uhuru Kenyatta win another term in office. Africa has become so volatile that it takes only an election to burn a country to the ground and reverse the tiny progress already made. Quite frankly African Leaders must get serious. We can no longer continue to have a Continent of strong men who preside over poverty and chaos. A continent where the GDP of 53 countries put together is smaller than the GDP of a single European country like France can no longer be acceptable.

According to an analysis by Tony Blair Institute For Global Change, over 50 million educated Africans of working age will be unemployed by 2040. This massive unemployment crises will have catastrophic consequences not just for Africa but the global economy.  Hence, African leaders must wake up and smell the coffee. They must reposition a continent dependent on commodity exports and foreign aid to an industrial giant where we can close the widening gaps in our trade deficits. A situation where a country like Nigeria rakes in more dollars from repatriation than they do from trading a major commodity like cocoa is no longer acceptable. We deserve visionary leaders divorced from parochial sentiments and cronyism, leaders who would put the welfare and security of their people first. We can no longer be the lap dog of the global economy.

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