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Opinions of Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Columnist: Konongo Fordjour

The Role of Democratic Ghana in Authoritative Africa

Global Analytica Memo - African Desk: 07.07.08 Written by Konongo Fordjour

[CAUTION: The text here is of high grade. Serious comments from academics of high quality, please.]

“Independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it’s linked with the total liberation of Africa”. Does this sound familiar? Just after independence in 1957, Ghana was bestowed her natural responsibility of supervising the total liberation of the entire continent. Apparently, that natural responsibility may have been withdrawn by Africans themselves, or perhaps, abandoned temporarily by Ghana herself. The problem may be blamed on Ghana’s inability to afford continental expenditure tagged to such a responsibility. Military takeovers in Ghana from 1966 through 1979 to 2000 are particularly the root cause for the delay of Africa’s total emancipation. However, after rejuvenating her political superiority since 2001, we still find some anomalies or reluctance on Ghana to resume her God-given responsibility. But, what is it that Ghana is supposed to do that she is not doing now?

Ghana has grown smarter this time round. President Nkrumah’s lack of tact imbued in his so-called “forward-ever-backward-never” synthesis cost his government dearly. Or probably we may blame it on Ghana’s inability to single out and train our Foreign Service personnel in international negotiation. This problem cropped up when the former AU Chairman, President Kufuor, initiated a negotiable deal in the Kenyan crisis. Surprisingly, the two rivals tearing themselves apart - Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga - were both susceptible of President Kufuor’s unqualified and/or unskilled role as a negotiator in their internal problem. Nevertheless, when the world’s best negotiator in modern times, Ghana’s Kofi Annan was introduced, the two enemies of their own country were solemnized. Nkrumah’s enthused Pan-African sentiments in Ghana’s rich old days in standing for poor Africans was not reciprocated by any African during Ghana’s poor recent days. Subsequently, successive presidents seem extremely cautious in meddling in other peoples’ problems. Nkrumah was tested with the Congo-Zaire crisis in the 1960s, while Kufuor is challenged with Kenyan and Zimbabwean crises. Recently, our current parliament called for external power’s intervention in Zimbabwe’s internal problem. Nkrumah acted then, so should Kufuor also act now?

No look-alike situations are ever similar. Nkrumah’s characteristic rush into doing things in the 1960s that sent executioner Kojo Tsikata, Kwasi Kotoka, Akwasi Afrifa, Okutu Akyeampong, etc. to the warring zone left a bitter feud in Congo-Kinshasa-Zaire, that remain unsolved until today and in return bequeathed us the senseless coups d’etat in that sequential name pattern on Ghana. The then inexperienced Ghana’s army in international wars, as well as today, went to Congo-Zaire without knowing the delicate issue at the war front. Although the army is skilled in international peacekeeping today, the Zimbabwean crisis presents a different picture altogether. In the 1960s Nkrumah had a clear supporter, Patrice Lumumba, to help get out of problems. In Zimbabwe’s case, our support is divided. A section of our nation supports Mugabe while the other supporting any other opposition person, as long as it is not Mugabe. Uncertainty in our level of support makes it extremely dangerous in sending our army to yet another dangerous zone as Nkrumah risked and suffered heavy defeat, loss of funds, and eventually overthrown by his own returning soldiers.

Kufuor, on the other hand, has been extremely careful with political crises in Africa. Most of these crises are caused by sheer foolhardiness on the part of the opposition. Fundamental issues of importance are neglected until boiling points are reached to cause war. In the case of Zimbabwe crisis, the simple issue neglected was the clause in the constitution that mandates the presidency to rule in perpetuity. In February 2000, Robert Mugabe signaled his exit strategy by initiating a constitutional referendum to change the time limit for future presidents to two terms only, but Morgan Tsvangirai influenced his MDC party to boycott it, which offered Mugabe a free ride as long as he wants. The Zimbabwean constitution is crafted smartly to embrace the two evils of the west: the British one, which allows perpetuity in the presidency; and the American one that, allows the executive presidential system. Is Morgan looking at that clause that can change the leadership quagmire to eliminate President Mugabe over a given period just as Ghana did under Gun-man Jerry Rawlings? Or does he want that clause to remain so that he can wish to usurp power and deal with his foes in perpetuity?

Common among participants in critical debates is that sharp differences normally develop. Ghana’s MPs’ decision to align with the other side calling for superior intervention in Zimbabwean crisis was not surprising because it echoed a similar force on the globe. Other prominent continental personalities equally vocal on the issue were populists such as Raila Odinga and Desmond Tutu, who wanted Mugabe to be either overthrown or killed the Habiyarimana way. Even on his arrival at the Cairo summit, Mr. Mugabe observed that there was division among his colleagues meeting there. Common with the first time ever attendees, such as Odinga, Koroma, Levy Mwanawasa, etc. the noise was lynch Mugabe as it was the case with Wade, Boni, Kigame, etc. on hot issues before, but have been exceptionally quiet lately. The other most experienced ones like Kufuor, Mbeki, Mubarak, Museveni, Mutsitsili, etc. were extremely cautious in their deliberations on the Mugabe problem because solution to the problem on the ground is nowhere near to street championship in the Luo-Kikuyu crisis in Kenya.

I think the Zimbabwean problem is about the land that is slipping (or has slipped) off the British hands. Assuming that the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee Chairman, Tutu, had been realistic to put owners of South Africa (blacks) back to their deserving place (the land question), do you think the recent xenophobia in that country would have occurred in the first place? Do you think Tutu would have continued to remain in the “good books” of the west?

Land is a very powerful weapon to hold onto. We have a similar problem in Ghana because constitutionally land is owned by chiefs, who can manipulate their people to enrich themselves. Wars have been fought in Ghana before on land and continues today unabated. For instance, wars among Konkoma and Nanumba were over land; the current sensitive situation in Bawku is also over land; and the recent words traded between Asanteman and Dormaa Ahenkro is over land as well. Therefore, we need to be extremely careful in making pronouncements that can flare up wars in hot spots around the continent.

In his secret BBC interview in Harare during the Cairo summit, Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed Raila Odinga’s call for forceful takeover of Zimbabwe as well as all the reactionary exposition by others towards the Zimbabwean crisis. And just after the Cairo summit, President Mbeki began his direct negotiation with all the parties in the crisis. All parties attended, except Tsvangirai and his MDC Party, who refused to attend. Now that all Shona seem to be rallying together for a common interest in Zimbabwe, “union government”, does Morgan feel sidelined? By the way, who is the man called Morgan Tsvangirai?

Morgan Tsvangirai, a 56-year old man from a broken home, is the eldest of nine children of a carpenter and bricklayer. Morgan was born in the district of Gutu farmlands in the Masvingo province, some 220 kilometers south-east of Harare-Zimbabwe. Morgan Tsvangirai belongs to one of the tiniest tribes called Karanga - a sub-tribe strongly attached to the dominant Shona - forming 2% with six other tribes. Karanga tribe in Zimbabwe (called Kalanga in Botswana) migrated from the bow and arrow throwing warriors - Batsaroa and Koikoi (bushmen living in the wild in Bostswana) - and sparingly distributed in the Masvingo province around the Great Motopos. Morgan left school at a very young age to work help raise the family, hence his school-going youthful years were wasted. Mr. Mugabe snootily calls him an "ignoramus" because of his humble background and lack of education. Morgan’s initial work life encounter was in the mining and rose through the ranks of foreman until the 1980s when he was the general secretary of Zimbabwe congress of trades union (ZCTU) recommended by Comrade Mugabe. Morgan remained a staunched supporter of ZANU-PF until the late 1990s after ZANU-PF and ZAPU-PF emerged to form a one party state. In 1999, Morgan Tsvangirai joined Prof. Arthur Mutambara and others to form a strong opposition party called Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to challenge Robert Mugabe’s hegemony.

The role of Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwean politics is mixed up. Just after independence from Britain, Robert Mugabe was faced with uphill threats from all over his borders, most urgently pressing were Ndebele possible secessionism in the south led by Joshua Nkomo. The apartheid South Africa’s constant cross-border infiltrations were too scary with a possible funding for the irate Ndebele, plus numerous confused demands by the remnants of the hopeless British outcasts. The solution was simple: trained 31,000 able Zimbabweans from North Korea called the 5th Brigade, which quickly put down all the nonsense in a twinkle of an eye. In 1984, Morgan Tsvangirai supervised the 5th Brigade’s “Operation Gukurahundi” that massacred Joshua Nkomo’s subversive and secessionist faction but later told BBC in 2003 that he questioned his old ZANU-PF comrades over the mass graves in Tsholotsho, Kezi, Lupane, and Nkayi. That was a treasonable offence to lie to the state over issues Morgan could not substantiate. If Morgan had nothing to do with what he witnessed, what stops him from telling the world of his long tale of the “Operation Gukurahundi” now that he has long started running his mouth? It was our concerned and collective expectations that Morgan would expose Mugabe with an insider report, but Tsvangirai is empty and he has nothing to offer. Mugabe won’t kill Morgan, much in the same way that he did not kill real time opposition crass such as Joshua Nkomo, Ian Smith, Abel Muzorewa, and Ndabaninghe Sithole, because doing that will dignify him with a western ordained certificate. The best way to deal with him was giving him lashes.

Why Morgan Tsvangirai is not worth a serious consideration: Dr. Simba Makoni had suggested earlier to Mr. Tsvangirai to seek a union government that will bring reconciliation instead, but Morgan has refused which makes him not peaceful enough and bent on retribution. The ZANU-PF have also reiterated that a prime ministerial post would be created to bring Morgan on board as they did in the late 1980s to mid-1990s with Joshua Nkomo, yet Morgan does not want that as well. Tsvangirai was destined to rule, out of the 2008 elections, but failed to secure the votes, why? The MDC Party’s first president, Prof. Arthur Mutambara‘s inability to deal with litigant Tsvangirai’s separatist, foolhardiness, stubbornness, deliberate back-biting in their party’s plebiscite, and absolute ignorance in democratic governance to pursue a strategic win, forced Prof. Mutambara’s factional breakaway to join Dr. Simba Makoni. Hence, setting the MDC presidential bid off target to cause Tsvangirai’s loss. Tsvangirai is a nuisance and a menace to himself.

The west flip-flopped on Tsvangirai: Prof. Mutambara (a Shona robotic expert from Oxford University) was promoted by the West after Western governments decided not to continue backing Morgan Tsvangirai because the Zimbabwean people had allegedly rejected his party manifesto; also because he once called the Africa Union a “club of dictators”. Morgan Tsvangirai’s frustrations with Mugabe and the ZANU-PF glared up when Mugabe repeatedly advised him to wait over strategic areas of party hierarchical demand in competition with big-wigs such as Nathan Shamuyarira, Emmerson Mnangawuwa, Joe Msika, Sidney Sekeramayi, etc. These guys are extremely brilliant and highly educated Shona who were directly connected to the struggle in the bush that overthrew Ian Smith’s illegal rule. In spite of Morgan’s unnatural grasp of government business, he still demanded authoritative command in ZANU-PF world from Mugabe. When this was not forthcoming, Morgan Tsvangirai called it quits to join MDC - funded and controlled by the remnants of the British tadpoles in Zimbabwe and of course the visibly irritated west. I interacted with all these guys including Morgan in most of ZANU-PF meetings in Machipisa town hall in Highfield-Harare, Zimbabwe in the 1980s.

And Morgan Tsvangirai requested for his own death knell. In September 2000, he told a rally of his Movement for Democratic Change: "If Mugabe does not go peacefully, he will be removed by force." In the same year’s parliamentary elections Tsvangirai demonized everything about them with threats of boycott including non-consultative utterances disrespecting his own party protocols, but finally MDC got 57, and ZANU-PF also had 63, yet he claimed that Mugabe rigged the results. In 2002 presidential elections, Tsvangirai demonized everything about the electoral process with numerous threats of boycott and eventually went to the pools unprepared, as usual, and came with a dismal failure of 41.9% as against Mugabe’s 56.2%. Once again, according to Tsvangirai, Robert Mugabe rigged the elections. In the just ended 2008 parliamentary elections, the opposition party MDC controlled the house for the first time in Zimbabwe politics with 99 representatives, and ZANU-PF pooled 97 yet again Robert Mugabe rigged the elections. The March 2008 presidential results were far more breath-taking with the opposition man Tsvangirai scoring highest past a sitting president in Zimbabwean history with 47.9% as against President Mugabe’s 43.2% and Makoni’s 8.9%. Again, according to Tsvangirai, Mugabe rigged the box. A run-off election was slated for June 2008 to determine a clear winner. The peripatetic “swinging pendulum” Tsvangirai (kro-hin-ko-Chan-gi-rai), took the whole world on his chest running around instead of settling down to do political battle with Mugabe. This incoherent, “blame-it-all-on-Mugabe”, Tsvangirai could not find time to campaign and eventually pulled out citing doom on his supporters. Tsvangirai is not worth the bet to die for.

Does Ghana still have her natural role to play in contemporary African politics like before? Yes! We Africans must learn to solve our problems by ourselves. Mugabe has been progressive over the lengthy period he has been on the seat with periodic general elections, although very much criticized some of the time. However, in comparison with countries like Libya, Egypt, Gabon, Cameroun, Guinea-Conakry, Equatorial-Guinea, and Uganda, which have denied their own people the universal suffrage, then we may tend to think that Mugabe has brilliantly contained the rough tides without any of the numerous forecasted anarchies in Zimbabwe. Admirably, these seven states have shown relative calm over their presidential dictates in denying them to vote. Adding Rwanda, Togo, and Sudan to the Zimbabwean category where one-man show has been observed for so long with characteristic ending drama, I still feel highly optimistic with our collective vision of the Federated

African States as a unified nation. I am not a fun of Robert Mugabe neither does he have my support, but if stabilizing a nation with a one-man show will lead us quicker to unity then why should we all crowd on top of the seat in trying to become presidents by hook or crook? At the end of the day, only one person at a time can be president.

Currently, it appears that we have two types of African governance. One, the “model states” that imitate the west - Algeria, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and may be Uganda - dubbed as ‘progressive or promising states’. And the others dubbed by the west as ‘retrogressive’, such as our case in point, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Cameroun, Libya, etc. If my analysis here shows any reasonable view, then can we say that we leave the western defined “despots” alone and concentrate on the promising ones to set standards for the entire continent to move us quicker to nationhood? We need to draw clear lines for our governance and create a powerful ‘rule-of-law’ nation. Until we do things right while we face problems now, we will keep going in circles. After all, Morgan’s problem is not new in Africa and definitely not in Zimbabwe itself. Many of them have passed by before and we should expect many more if we do not act now.

Ghana must pick up the pieces from where Nkrumah left it. War, violence, or civil disobedience worked during Nkrumah’s time but I am not sure if the same strategy will work today in our civil demands since those who used that strategy against the white colonialists are firmly in place on our seats now. Perhaps we need a more sophisticated strategy in combination with other ones to pursue peaceful governance and development. Africa has the wealth - material, human, etc - to develop herself past the so-called western wealth. Ghana’s parliament must engage itself in productive discussions of continental interest rather than declaring war on a sovereign state that will cause death on our people unnecessarily. Africa’s most progressive presidents - Kufuor, Mbeki, Wade, etc. - meeting the G8 presidents in Japan, have collectively rejected any sanctions and/or external pressure on Zimbabwe. We salute our President for his thoughtfulness of African problems and dealing with them diplomatically. We strongly suggest that a negotiating team be put in place to dialogue with hot spots before they become a reality. Darfur is still hanging while Namibia, Cameroun, and Guinea-Conakry are on the offing; hence we need highly skilled diplomats to tackle them to speed up our envisaged United Africa. Congratulations, Mother Africa, on your successful completion of your annual meeting without firing bullets or salvoes at each other.

Konongo Fordjour

Global Analytica, Boston-USA


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