Heko Rais Magufuli

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Tampering with constitutions: how African countries became cesspools

Image result for photos of african presidents who changed constitutions When US President Donald John Trump referred to African countries as cesspools, many attacked him and accused him of racism and superiority complex which is true. Ironically, when some African rulers turn their countries into cesspools by tampering with the constitutions of their countries to overstay in power, nobody takes on them. What do you call the act of tampering with and trampling on the constitution with the aim of cling to power? When it comes to tampering with the constitutions, the East African Community (EAC) scores high. Recently, constitutions in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda were tampered with to allow the incumbents rulers to cling to power undemocratically. 
                  Ironically, when a constitution is defecated on, those supposed to condemn such an act are nowhere to be heard. For example, when Trump referred to African countries as cesspits, the African Union heavily weighed in. The Washington Post (January 12, 2018) then quoted Ebba Kolondo, African Union’s spokesperson, as saying that the African Union Commission was frankly alarmed at statements by the president of the United States when referring to migrants of African countries and others in such contemptuous term.  The counterattacks did not end up with the AU. The United Nations Human Rights spokesperson, Rupert Colville, bluntly termed Trump’s utterance as racist.
Although Trump opened Pandora’s Box, we need to ask ourselves; why he did that. What are lessons we got from Trump’s bigotry; if we take them as an opportunity to show how things are not as calm as we might wrongly think?  To hit right on the money, I must confess: Trump must not only condemned but also praised for exposing the hypocrisy the international community has always applied in dealing with Africa. Arguably, what Trump said is exactly the same with what Israel is now doing vis-à-vis black immigrants. Think about this statement. The Minister of Culture and Sports, Miri Regev, said in 2012 that “Sudanese are a cancer in our body” (East African, Dec., 10, 2017) which also quoted former interior minister Eli Yishai, who vowed to make African migrants’ lives “miserable until they leave.” Essentially, this is purely racism. Even what is currently going on in the EU where African immigrants are rounded up in Libya and sent home is just the same. As if this wasn’t enough, Egyptian official called fellow African delegates at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi “dogs and slaves” (WashingtonPost, May 31, 2016).
Despite being abhorrent and ridiculously offensive, Trump’s assertion has some kernels of truth. Why did he refer to African countries and Haiti as cesspit countries in the first place? Apart from racism, Trump has the point that Africa needs to reinvent itself so that its image can improve. Again, why has Africa been treated with contempt since its creation? Apart from western colonialism, the internal colonisation carried out by black colonisers has a lot to do with it.  Refer to how African countries inherited colonial institutions and systems that enabled black colonisers to keep on lording it over their citizens. Don’t we have African rulers who treat their citizens like cesspools? Is there any difference from those who rig elections and illegally get to power from Trump as far as cesspools are concerned?
Aren’t those tinkering with constitutions to cling to power treating their citizens and countries not to mention their constitutions as cesspools?  Is there any dross like trampling on the sacred document of the country? Let’s face it.  Aren’t corrupt African rulers treating their citizens and countries like cesspools? Aren’t begging rulers making their countries be regarded as cesspools, especially if we consider the fact that such beggars are ruling countries endowed with immense source of precious resources? Aren’t all countries that depend on handouts from the west cesspits? 
                To avert being referred to as gutters, stop begging and start planning for your development; stop selling each other to your former colonial powers;  and stop internal colonisation. Invest in your people instead of depending on begging and borrowing.  Start working on the growth of your economies by adding value to primary goods Africa has been exported since the first contact; you will turn tables against those abusing and insulting you. It is so simple and clear. Take, for example, currently, it is easy to crisscross Europe but impossible for an African to do so in Africa. Whom are you punishing? It is easier for an African country to do business with China, Europe and India than doing the same with its neighbouring country. Whom are you punishing if not shooting yourselves in the foot? Aren’t countries doing so cesspits?
In sum, though, I don’t endorse Trump sentiments, there are some nuggets for Africa to change and do things rightly.  If African rulers stop vending themselves and their people to the so-called donors, nobody will disparage them as Trump did. Former Burkina Faso President Thomas Sankara once stopped begging and borrowing. For, four years he was in power, he led his country without necessarily self-dressing down begging.  If African rulers decided to be accountable, reasonable and responsible, nobody will call the African countries cesspools.
Source: Citizen, June 13, 2018.

No comments: