Friday, May 24, 2024

The tragedy of African leaders on US democracy

American elections where they were electing a president and senators is over even though the counting still continues in most parts of the country. The winner of the presidential race has been declared by the Electoral College system as Joe Biden who reached the 270 mark.

There are some similarities between our system of elections in Botswana and that of the Americans. The winner can still be voted by a minority. As in the case of Botswana, any party that attains two thirds of the parliamentary seats which is currently 29, the presidential candidate of that party is declared winner. Like in Botswana, a certain section of the population is calling for a proportional representation system in order to make every vote count in a true sense.But these elections in America have been the most interesting and controversy ridden by far. There has never been anything like what we have seen happen in the last lap of campaigning with Donald Trump denouncing the validity of the use of mail voting system in the manner that he did. He was actually pouring scorn on the entire electoral system that has served his country for centuries now.

Even though President Donald Trump has not been to Africa during his presidency and even his policies were alienated from this continent, Trevor Noah has long picked certain of his traits to be akin to that of one of the rulers of Africa. Idi Amin was a man who always wanted to be in the media limelight on his own terms and conditions.

Amin pronounced that the people of Uganda loved him and he actually personally encouraged them to “love their leader.” Similarly, Trump also pronounced that the American people love him and he is a likeable and popular leader. Given a chance, Trump would have been a very dictatorial leader. Eve with the checks and balances in the American system of democracy, he still managed to soil it.

It seems fashionable for African leaders to congratulate any winner of the presidential elections in the US. With the help of social media, we have seen a great portion of African presidents sending their congratulatory notes to President Elect Joe Biden.It all started with a joke early in the week where President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe was “threatening sanctions on the US if they did not achieve free and fair elections.” But in reality Zimbabwe is one of the countries that sent their congratulatory messages for the winner in the US election.

What do most of these men know about democracy of even the rule of law so much that they want to associate themselves with the US electoral outcome? It is only a matter of being in the limelight for them. They are stealing the show and want to be seen to be associating themselves with democratic giants. Even further, they just want their local television stations and radios to capture that as an achievement. When Trevor Noah made his striking political analysis that sets the similarities between Trump and Amin, he did have in mind the fact that Biden would become the 7th US president while Uganda is still at one. Yoweri Museveni did not waste much time to pass his congratulatory note to the winner of the US elections. What does the man know about democracy? Someone has taken their time on social media showing Museveni and sometimes with his wife posing with all the six presidents of the US beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1986.Even then, some leaders such as President Buhari of Nigeria have been placed where they are through a system of democracy but they are not doing enough to honour their election promises. Nigerians still remain poor regardless of the fact that they are seating of such oil wealth. The only difference visible with his presidency is that the military is not in power.

This is the tragedy of the African leaders who are so educated in as far as democracy is but show nothing when it comes to the practical aspects of it. Most African leaders should be watching on the side-lines and learning that democracy means going to an election and allowing the people a say through their vote. It is even annoying that it is the African dictators who wanted to be first in congratulating Biden. But my fear for the African leaders rests on what is about to unfold in America. Trump has not yet acknowledged Biden’s triumph. By this he is undermining the very system that put him in the White House. In short, the man does not have faith in the system and he has gone to court in an attempt to short circuit it.

Trump is already showing signs that he is not going to leave the White House in obedience to the law. But according to history, there has been problems in the past with transition of power between the election winner and the incumbent. In 1881, President John Adams refused to vacate the White House to make way for his opponent in Thomas Jefferson. But as recorded it in history, “the office simply left him.”

Like John Adams who served only one term, there is no way Trump will be at the podium when Biden is sworn in on January 20th. But reading from history, all the White House auxiliaries will leave Trump to take care of the new president. But in the current case it may not be as easy as it was in 1881.Trump has a host of supporters who still feel very much aggrieved with the conduct of the election. They believe deeply that their candidate has been cheated. Election rigging is a story that many have chosen to believe. Unlike John Adams, Trump has a great following of armed Americans who may choose to provide his security. There is a recipe for a parallel government. Unfortunately for African leaders, they will be studying the script and soon someone will be refusing to vacate office in the Trump style.


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