ELECTIONS AND PRODUCTIVITY
Much of Africa will go through presidential and general elections in the next few months to elect the next set of leaders. You can expect energetic men in their 70s and 80s to compete aggressively and violently to serve the continent’s much younger population. The youth are patiently watching the old men doing more of the same.
Some of the countries have just gone through this periodical ritual. Don’t call it democracy, that’s a Western concept. You can congratulate him already — by the time you read this, Paul Biya will have been announced as Cameroon’s latest president. The Cameroonian people are so confident of a brighter future they again re-elected Biya, 85, to lead them for another seven years. He’s been in power for a mere 36 years. Biya is only the country’s second president since independence from the French and British, starting in 1960. Elections were held on October 7.
Then just before Christmas, Joseph Kabila may finally allow the Democratic Republic of Congo to choose his successor. Poor Joseph. He’s only been in power since his father, president Laurent-désiré Kabila, was shot dead by a soldier in 2001. When the end of his second, final term crept up on him in December 2016, Joseph simply ignored it. What is two years in Africa’s largest country by geography?
Last week Nigeria’s main opposition party chose Atiku Abubakar, 71, to try to wrest the head of state title away from Muhammadu Buhari, 75, in elections next year. The People’s Democratic Party hopes the country, under the “youngster” Abubakar, might be more productive than it has been in the past four years under Buhari. After all, Abubakar has already proven more productive than Buhari. The matter of his 26 (publicly acknowledged) children surely puts the debate to rest. Buhari has only 10.
But the youth in southern Africa cannot be accused of doing nothing. Julius Malema and Zimbabwe’s Nelson Chamisa have managed to give hope to their respective supporters (even if the latter had to patiently wait for death to remove Morgan Tsvangirai and the army to topple Robert Mugabe). False hopes.
Of course they have both learnt the tricks of their much older comrades. Chamisa almost brought Harare to a standstill after losing the presidential election in July. Except the people saw right through him and refused to stand in front of the army’s bullets. Again.
An energetic 81
He lost the election to Emmerson Mnangagwa, a man much more productive than he, if his nine children (others put the number at 18) are any measure. Chamisa will be close to 45 when Zimbabwe’s next presidential elections come around in five years’ time while Mnangagwa will be an energetic, youthful 81.
Down here in SA, Malema, 37, will be promising free land and some banks to anyone who votes for his EFF next year. Just not the cash in the banks. Even Mmusi Maimane has caught on. His DA party now promises free cash, a jobseekers’ allowance for unemployed 18- to 34-year-olds.
In Ethiopia the elders have stepped aside to allow the young ones to lead their country into the future.
After seven months in office, 42-year-old Abiy Ahmed has reduced the cabinet to 20 ministers, down from 28. Half are now women, with a woman defence minister for the first time. Some economic and political reforms have been ushered in.
The Ethiopian economy and national mood have picked up. The Oromo strife seems to be receding. The train running between Addis Ababa and the port in neighbouring Djibouti is ferrying even more goods and passengers. This is the kind of productivity Africa should strive for.
Malema will be promising free land and some banks to anyone who votes for his EFF. Just not the cash IN the banks