The outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission and President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has hit out at some African leaders, accusing them of shortchanging their citizenry. While delivering her New Year’s message in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dlamini-Zuma reportedly singled out South Sudan, where at least half a million people have died and about two million others have been displaced due to the ongoing civil war.
She was quoted by News24 as saying, “Our governments and leadership are there to protect the vulnerable, to serve the people, not to be the cause of the people’s suffering and retrogression.”
She also criticized the ongoing electoral squabbles in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Central African Republic, and Burundi, saying Africans have had enough of mediocre leadership.
“Enough is enough. Africans deserve better and we must all work towards better days and towards peace, stability, and development.”
Egotistic and Authoritarian Leaders
Dlamini-Zuma’s comments come against the backdrop of an emerging trend of some African leaders refusing to relinquish power at the end of their tenure.
At the moment, violent protests are going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where many are calling on President Joseph Kabila, whose tenure ended in December 2016, to step down.
The protesters are accusing Kabila of delaying presidential elections, which were slated for November last year, to extend his rule. Last year, DRC’s Constitutional Court postponed the elections by seven months following a petition by the country’s electoral commission.
In Burundi, hundreds of people have died and thousands of others forced to flee their homes following the controversial re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term in 2015.
According to the Burundian constitution, Nkurunziza was not supposed to seek a third term in office. However, his supporters argue that his first term doesn’t count since he was elected by a parliamentary vote instead of a popular vote.
In Gambia, a civil war is imminent following a disputed presidential election in which the incumbent president, Yahya Jammeh, lost to opposition leader Adam Barrow.
President Jammeh had initially conceded defeat, but later changed his mind, claiming that the poll was marred by serious anomalies.
Many African leaders and the international community have called on Jammeh, who has been in power for 22 years, to respect the decision of the people and step down. He however insists that the election has to be done afresh.
Africa is home to some of the longest-serving presidents, some of whom have held on to power for more than three decades. Some have even vowed to rule until they die.
BY FREDRICK NGUGI