Interim report: When democracy does not work – Trouble!
Winston Churchill proclaims that Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others! Dared it be said that it is not the form of government that Democracy makes possible that makes it the best form of government. “After all, there is no guarantee that an individual or the population as whole will not suffer from a misplaced democratic vote, however, this will be far less damaging, less costly and of a shorter duration than suffering under insatiable dictatorial police state that respects no rights, no thought, no privacy.” This is because democracy does not automatically mean that one makes the right choice. What Democracy does is to make it possible for a wrong choice to be corrected come another round of democratic election. That Democracy makes Next Time a certainty is why it is still the best form of government. And our Democracy Problem in Africa is that our politicians make the Next Time impossible. “Any election may be turned upside down in the following elections within four or more years based on the principle of ‘trial and error,’ which is the core of science as well as natural human interaction.”
Everywhere in Africa the government in power negates the Next Time. Trouble goes there. Two recent examples of democratic voting yielding seemingly unwelcome results are the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the voice of the people Republican primaries which are leading to Trump becoming the GOP’s candidate for the democratic election for the president of the United States of America come November 8 2016.
The regret of the result of the Brexit referendum was immediate. Unintended, as different from collateral, damages became obvious. There are for nations in the United Kingdom. Two voted to leave while the other two voted to stay in the European Union. Scotland and Northern Ireland, which voted to remain in the European Union, demanded out of the Act of Union that brought the nations together in the United Kingdom in 1707 for Scotland and 1800 for Northern Ireland. That is within the United Kingdom. As far as the European Union was concerned Britain would not be able to cherry pick in the negotiations that would see it out of the Union. Perhaps the funny side of the whole referendum was shown by the fact that London voted solidly to stay within the European Union. So, the remnants of the United Kingdom or the not so great Britain would stay out of the European Union without its capital city, London.
Those who know the voting mood of the United States of America insist that Trump can never win the presidential election come November 2016. But even if he did, for the American voter there is always a next time when either the party or the president would be punished for whatever perceived wrong that had been committed. American democracy guarantees the Next Time and so a Trump is not forever unlike a Mugabe of Zimbabwe or a Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola. The regret of the United Kingdom over the result of the referendum would hopefully warn the voters of the United States of America against voting for what they would regret.
What if the army had remained in their barracks, not encouraged by the likes of Kemal Ataturk of Turkey and Gamal Nasser of Egypt that the military could make a difference in politics? What if Awolowo, Azikiwe and Bello had been left to fight it out in the democratic political arena, what would have happen in Nigeria? What if the Western elections of 1964 had been allowed to take place as it should have, allowing the Action Group that won that election to take over the government? What if those who lost had bid their time knowing that there was a Next Time in the near future? We can only imagine the Democratic bliss we would have been enjoying now!
What if Abiola had been allowed to rule in 1993 with those who opposed his being in power knowing that there was a Next Time? No matter.
In some parts of Africa and the optimistically labelled ‘emerging economies’ or ‘developing countries,’ the police and the military are used to make sure the Next Time is the same time for the ruling party and the reigning president. In Zimbabwe, military and semi-military organisations are the instruments used to ensure that nothing changes in the democracy of Robert Mugabe. Recently the former freedom fighters who claim sole responsibility for the liberation of Zimbabwe were reported to have finally withdrawn their support of Mugabe after 36 years of support. During this period they have killed and maimed opposition politicians for the benefit of Mugabe. Perhaps the unrobing of the self-declared president for life has finally commenced. The undressing of Mugabe through the departure of the individuals and groups around him would expose him and the country can start again creating the validity of the Next Time. Before the freedom fighters left Mugabe, a magistrate in Harare had passed a judgment that was definitely not part of the script of police control system. He had freed the pastor who is the face of the new effort to rescue the country from Mugabe.
It would seem that the same instrument of police and military are in use in Angola. Even when contested matters of human rights reach the courts, the judges and magistrates are so much part of the enforcement catchment of the society so that changes are impossible to initiate. Recently in Angola, a court agreed with the government that it is n fact illegal in the country for a book club to gather and read a book together.
Except under Abacha, the police and the military are hardly the instruments of ensuring that the Next Time is like the last time. Rather, people in decisive positions are settled and so they ensure that everything remains the same. Money, in different species in different containers are used to stuff the throat of INEC officers, supervising police and overseeing military men and women. Yet, whatever is done to stop democracy, democracy will always find new definition to help it to remain the best form of government. And in Africa that definition is called the promise of a Next Time. And where there is no Next Time it is there that Trouble goes.
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