Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Weekly Sneak: Even A Bad Election Is Better Than None

I know that The General wasn't serious in his last column about Africa and her sham elections but it hit me hard. He may have been joking but all too often I have heard this said quite seriously, by fellow Africans. It never bothered me as much coming from older people who are generally conservative and have colonial hang-overs that give rise to awkward statements. But when I started hearing it from peers? Oh, hell no. There's no way we're doing this nonsense for another generation:

"To be fair, I think that there is a point to the frustration: as was pointed out last week in Jenerali's column, elections are a terrible sham most of the time. That doesn't mean we should give up on them. What would we do for fun?

More importantly, what would we do instead? The answer that seems to be bubbling up silently is to go back to an era of Big Men, to embrace that notion without complaint. After all, it is sort of what we do now anyways. Be they magnificent, former liberators turned cranky old men, be they terrible despots, something always seems to happen once an African leader has been around long enough- and in some cases 'long enough' can be a matter or months. They gain a level of authority and respect that's dangerously close to that accorded kings and other divinely appointed rulers."

Yeah, yeah, democracy is a messy, crazy, surprisingly inefficient and often ineffective. But it's still the best thing we've got, and it can always be improved. The alternative- at least the one we seem to be leaning towards in Africa- is untenable. 

PS: Nobody actually thought Museveni was going to give up power did they? He's hanging around until the EAC federates, perhaps so he can be its first leader, who knows. The man has been consistent about this particular ambition for many years. I wish him luck, may he live so long...

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