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Chaos politics killing Africa

By Reason Wafawarova
Zimbabwe and Kenya share a significantly great deal of similarities on the political landscape in both the pre and post-colonial eras, and recently the two countries had coalition governments forced into being by inextricable political stalemates.

Both countries fought painful wars of attrition en-route to Uhuru, and the atrocities suffered by both countries were at the hands of ruthless British supremacists.

The unworkable coalition marriages between opposing political players have now ended rather belligerently in both countries, with the TNA/ URP Jubilee coalition of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto defeating the multi-party CORD coalition led by Raila Odinga in Kenyan elections, while the Robert Mugabe led-Zanu-PF secured a comprehensive landslide electoral victory over Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T in Zimbabwe.

The Kenyan elections were held on March 4, 2013, while the Zimbabwean plebiscite followed on July 31 the same year. It would appear like both Morgan Tsvangirai and Raila Odinga cannot get over the excruciating reality of reverting to opposition politics after electoral defeat, and the two good friends seem to be desperately hankering for a reincarnation of the 2007-2008 crises that gave births to the respective coalition governments in both countries.

Odinga has been in the turbulent Kenyan political landscape for a long time, joining the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) in 1992 on his return from a short stint in Norway - a party then led by his late father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. FORD was born out of protest politics against Daniel Arap Moi's one party rule. On July 7, 1990, Kenya experienced a four-day riotous protest that resulted in massive looting and destruction of property, very similar to the December 1997 riots experienced in Zimbabwe.

In Kenya, the protest started with 6000 people defying a ban by the Kanu government and going ahead to attend a rally at Kamukunji grounds, and the rally degenerated into a four-day violent protest. In Zimbabwe, it all started with the ZCTU calling for a nation-wide protest against a newly introduced development levy, and like in Kenya the protest degenerated into two days of massive looting and destruction of property, especially in Harare and Chitungwiza.

July 7, 1990, is commonly referred to as the Saba Saba day in Kenya, loosely meaning the day of mass action, and the events of that day led to the formation of FORD in August 1991, before Kanu agreed to introduce multiparty democracy in December that year.

While Zimbabwe has always been a multi-party democracy from independence in 1980, the 1997 riots led the ZCTU assuming an ostensible political dimension, leading to the formation of the MDC in September 1999. There is something in these riots that both Tsvangirai and Odinga assiduously seem to admire, and certainly that something is not the nobility of the cause for which the peoples of the respective countries protested.

Rather it is the chaos in these protests that the two politicians seem to be obsessed with. The two are ardent adherents of chaos politics - remorselessly convinced that making their respective countries ungovernable is a democratic way of dealing with incumbent political opponents in government. While Tsvangirai is now absolutely incapacitated by personal shortcomings when it comes to the clout to call for anything close to a mass action in Zimbabwe, his friend in Kenya has been holding politically charged rallies across the country - mobilising people for what he calls the 24th anniversary of the Saba Saba day.

The last time Odinga called for something he called Saba Saba was in the aftermath of the disputed 2007 election, and his call resulted in the killing of about 1 500 people in what turned out to be nothing more than ethnical confrontations punctuated by primitive blood letting. It is a wonder Odinga escaped the ICC charges after the role he reportedly played in stirring up emotions at the time.

Both Tsvangirai and Odinga became Prime Ministers by political arrangement in the coalition governments of their respective countries - going on to lose the arranged posts in the two countries' post coalition elections. In typical frivolousness of African opposition politics, both men vehemently refused to accept their electoral defeat, with Tsvangirai approaching the wrong court for purported remedy, while Odinga had his petition thrown out by the Supreme Court.

While Tsvangirai has been making laughable calls for another coalition government in Zimbabwe his friend in East Africa seems to be determined to create chaos bad enough to necessitate another round of talks that he believes could bring him back into power corridors. Tsvangirai perorates a lot about the economy of Zimbabwe set to torment the Mugabe Government terribly enough to warrant another round of talks similar to the ones that gave Zimbabweans the misnamed Global Political Agreement, and his utterances could be funny if the man was not in this terrible self-destructing mode.

It would appear like Odinga and Tsvangirai want to assert themselves as Africa's founding fathers of chaos politics outside civil wars, and the two clearly believe that post-chaos negotiations are a legitimate route to state power. It is sad to read what is happening in Kenya right now, and the hate language in both parliament and at political rallies is appalling if the least were to be said.

Odinga suffers this delusion that Kenya is unliberated, and that only he is the Joshua designated to take the country to some imagined Promised Land, and his Zimbabwean friend hallucinates along the same lines when he talks of something his party calls "a new Zimbabwe." To sum up the mendacious politics of Raila Odinga, Koigi waWamwere had this to say: "To begin his mission of liberating Kenya, Raila has called President Uhuru and his Jubilee government to a national dialogue that is neither national - because Raila has only invited five delegates from Cord side and five delegates from Uhuru side - and nor is it a dialogue - because, rather than promise a free flow of ideas on the problems that bedevil Kenya, the Raila team, like a victorious army, is inviting Jubilee government like a vanquished enemy, not to discuss a common future, but read it surrender terms."

We see here a culture of mercenary blackmail, where opposition politicians in Africa would want to threaten incumbent governments into submission. Many times this attitude has brought mass-killing civil wars on the continent.

Odinga is calling for dialogue to deal with corruption, yet he was the Kenyan prime minister recently, and corruption in Kenya was never abated by his presence. It is like his Zimbabwean friend who accuses the incumbent government of misplaced financial priorities when he himself still occupies a $4 million dollar government mansion acquired for him at a time some Zimbabwean hospitals had next to nothing in terms of medical supplies. Kenya has a rather sad taste of ethnicity to its politics, and this is why chaos politics must be avoided at all costs. Kalenjin MPs led by Peter Keter have openly complained that their 50 percent share of government jobs in the Jubilee government has not been met, and Odinga himself has been accused of playing negative ethnicity politics when he was in government, and even so in the affairs of his own ODM.

It is quite hypocritical for Odinga to pretend to be leading the crusade for curing insecurity in the wake of Al-Shabab terrorist activities in Kenya. Is it not a fact that the Kibaki/Odinga government sent the Kenyan army to Somalia under pressure to protect the tourism industry in Kenya? Surely Odinga cannot suddenly be against a military venture he advocated when it suited the politics of the day, and it is not a noble gesture for him to try and capitalise on the tragic terrorist activities of Al- Shabab in order to expedite his waning political fortunes. Zimbabweans will remember Tsvangirai threatening villagers with more sanctions and more hunger in the run up to the 2008 elections. Political expediency at the expense of the suffering of ordinary people is not exactly a democratic way of doing things.

Instead of telling Zimbabweans alternative policies to help recover the faltering economy, Tsvangirai gleefully celebrates the economic downfall and diligently prays for harsher economic conditions - to him the best tool to incapacitate his political opponents in Zanu-PF. The continent cannot successfully develop when all we have are opposition parties with this pull down mentality.

The opposition must be telling us alternative policies on how to manage our natural resources, or how to ensure that our populations across Africa benefit from these resources. We need alternative policies on how to structure the legal framework governing investment on the continent. We need alternative policies on how we can set up an effective tax regime for foreign investors on the continent. We need alternative policies on how to attract investment, and how to stop illegal outflows of money and profits from industries on our continent.

Odinga's idea of alternative policies is calling for a Saba Saba bloody revolution that will unleash havoc and violence so that Kenya can hold talks to take him back into government. That behaviour is not only unpatriotic, but also frankly primitive. Koigi waWamwere asks pertinent questions about the possibility of outside forces behind the renewed energy of Odinga. He writes: "But given that revolutions are risky gambles, who is encouraging and giving Raila so much confidence?

Can it be western governments that have supported bloody and highly destructive Arab spring revolutions that have wrecked and destroyed countries like Libya? Does Raila want Kenya to be destroyed like Libya when he can fight for power without destroying the country using democratic means?"

We know that the Western hand in Zimbabwe is with an MDC faction opposed to Tsvangirai at the moment, but we can assure the Kenyans that we have seen massive funding for these so-called mass actions, and indeed it is a possibility that Raila Odinga could be getting his fuelling from Western money bags.

Democracy is all about peaceful means of acquiring power, and those among us that christen themselves as democrats must respect democratic processes even at those times when democratic outcomes are not in their favour. If we have leaders that believe in subverting seating governments through undemocratic means we are only undermining our progress towards developing our nations into mature democracies. Africa we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.





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