Friday, April 22, 2005

"Anti-people conspiracy." Endemic or Pandemic among African Leaders?

There's no denying it, much of Africa is under seige from avaricous leaders pillaging and plundering the community's treasures with little regard for the people they lead.

Consipiracy thoerists claim governance on the continent is only a malleable asset for the soaring ambitions of strongmen turned "leaders." In articles like this one and this one, they point to political crises raging across the continent from Djibouti to Togo; Kenya to Zambia and Zimbabwe. The argument they posit, though corroborative, must not be accepted as definitive without close scrutiny because of its' immense implications for redress across the board.

First off, while it's obvious that this "anti-people" stance is a pandemic amongst the continent's leadership, it's not a given that it is necessarily endemic between the said leaders. Several examples of African leaders whose moral immunity has withstood the appeal of self aggrandizement come to mind; Festus Mogae (Botswana), Sam Mujoma (Namibia), Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki (South Africa) all from Southern African are examples.

Further, because this stance is a pandemic, doesn't mean it's a result of it being endemic. What I mean by this is that even though corruption and greed are widespread amongst Africa's leaders, it doesn't necessarily follow that they learn the tricks of the trade from each other. This is moreso given the wide variety of terms in power for the African leaders. Zimbabwe has only been independent 25 years, yet Zambia and most of Africa got their independence in the 1960's. To assume that African leaders "indoctrinate" each other in the inordinate art of graft is fallacious.

This distinction is important because therein lies the basis of any redress of the political problems rampant across Africa today. How we propose to ammend the Zimbabwean crisis is incumbent on whether we view Mugabe's corrupt and nepotistic tendencies as a single case that is part of a widespread pandemic or as an individual case among a series of many such cases with forces that cause each corrupt leader to support and bolster the other. Confusion over this distinction is the impetus behind the failure of numerous diplomatic attempts mitigating various problems in Africa.

So, is this "anti-people conspiracy" endemic or pandemic among Africa's leaders? What do you think?

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