What transpired in Ivory Coast recently unearthed the great rot in Africa’s education system and upper echelons of power. Laurent Gbagbo, the professor of History, did not learn from history. His wife, Dr Simone Ehivet Gbagbo, also historian, allegedly advised him to tighten his grip on power.
Indeed, Gbagbo once again proved that education does not emancipate the bearer if he is unable to read the signs of times. Have our venal rulers made any note of this?
First ladies and family members of Africa’s presidents have become secret presidents. These “behind the curtains” presidents are going on with business as usual.
In Guinea Bissau, the tyrant Theodore Obiang Nguema allowed his namesake son to scoop from the treasury as much money as he deemed fit. This tiny country with the population of half a million of which over 50 is living under a dollar a day is like Nguema’s private estate. His son, who also is a minister owns mansions and beaches worth millions of dollars in Malibu and a personal jet worth over $ 30,000,000, is untouchable. The son spends a million bucks in every trip he makes to the US.
In Congo Brazzaville, the son of Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso has all it takes even to stop IMF and WB from probing any malpractice involving public funds. Just like Nguema, he can spend any amount of money without raising any alarm! Remember this is the country of just 4,012,809. The irony is, despite having a small population half of which lives under a dollar a day, the same has the income of $ 3,000,000,000 annually from oil. Where does the money go?
In Tanzania, the son of President Jakaya Kikwete, Ridhiwani occupies a senior position in the ruling party to which Kikwete is chairman. One opposition party (CHADEMA) recently alleged that Ridhiwan is a billionaire despite the fact that he just graduated from school recently.
Kikwete’s wife Salma allegedly runs an NGO that mints millions of unaudited shillings. Gbagbo’s wife Simone was described by many media outlets as more feared than the president himself. She was implicated in the disappearance of her husband’s rivals, the prominent one being French-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer.
In Ethiopia, the wife of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Azeb Mesfin is known as Queen of Mega for allegedly being involved in mega corruption. Robert Mugabe’s sweetheart Grace Gucchi Mugabe is renowned for over-spending especially at the time Zimbabweans are dying in thousands thanks to poverty and mismanagement. Grace stole thunder when she was linked with Bloody Diamond by Wikileaks.
Going back where we started, as mush as we may blame African heads of state, there is need to re-examine the role of First Families in matters of state. The “presidents behind the curtains” have inflicted a great deal of suffering to our people and our economies. Think about that and evaluate your ruler.
By Nkwazi Mhango
A Canada based Tanzanian and author of Saa ya Ukombozi.
RE: US Policy Priorities for Africa
I must confess that I do not have a 40-year experience in the field of diplomacy and international relations...blame it on my age! The point, however, I dearly wish to put across is that "top-down solutions to indigenous issues never serve us a big deal, and whatever success emanating from such approaches remains plastic or rather cosmetic" I beg that the US rethinks its Foreign Policy for Africa... we need homegrown solutions to our domestic problems, the rest must fall under the 'principle of endogeneity'
"David N. Tshimba"
RE: Climate Change Compromises Africa’s Food Security
It is total hubris by the Global Statists to assert that if they cripple the carbon fueled prosperity enough, they can control planetary climate. Increased CO2 at levels which support life has essentially no effect on our temperature. However, it greatly increases plant growth.
RE: Rotational Presidency: Ideal for Kenya?
This is a great idea from IDEA but I have one reservation: How will we classify the offspring from cross-ethnic/inter-racial marriages. In which region/ethnic group will they belong in order to present a presidential candidate if this materializes? May be a class-based rotation will be ideal where both the rich and the poor will test the presidency!
"Ezekiel Gechuki Manyara"
RE: Rotational Presidency: Ideal for Kenya?
Much as we may want to look at the idea of rotational presidency as a way of giving the "smaller tribes" a chance to presidency, we still will be pronouncing tribalism. Giving tribes this kind of play will be more dangerous than what we have now. The cartels will be more vicious and the culture of "our time to eat" will now have a glorified stand. Leadership is not about cutting out a leadership position. The leader should just emerge and stand out. Some of the woes bedeviling Africa’s leadership can only be resolved by some form of radical change which is natural. "Change is unstoppable".
RE: IREN to Join Pre-G8 Forum
This is a great chance for us to engage with West and make it possible for Africa to trade with Europe as equals. We do not need aid. We need equality.