Africa is a continent with varying social, political and economic issues. These issues range from high death rates and poorly developed infrastructure, to democracy in its infancy and civil war.
Because of all these problems which must be resolved quickly, there must be an intellectual approach to solving them. This at times has resulted in the emerging of opposition political leaders.
However to our dismay, as voters, the opposition leaders who we look at as our democratic and developmental partners end up disappointing us.
We, the voters, have been disappointed because these opposition leaders approach these challenges in a completely detached manner.
This detachment makes them seem oblivious to the needs of the masses. They seem to care more about their individual aspirations and needs.
One of the many problems these politicians have is that they are extremely ‘criticism oriented’. The opposition groups concentrate a lot more time criticizing the incumbent presidents and their governments instead of attempting to address even the obvious problems like unemployment and poor infrastructure.
Very often the opposition politicians’ end up merely campaigning on a platform of hatred, sectarianism and tribalism- the very things that undermine African growth and development.
Perhaps our politicians choose such tactics because they lack the preparation needed for national positions. Instead of always criticizing, these men and women should be engaging themselves in developmental activities.
Look at Jacob Zuma; he was able to wrestle the reins of power from Thabo Mbeki’s hands because he had a track record that he could show to the electorate, in this instance the African National Congress members.
Simply coming from nowhere, without any prior contribution to the national development, is often punished on Election Day.
These opposition politicians simply assume that the incumbent is unpopular and will be a walkover. This is often proved false because the masses have tasted political stability, the absence of state-inspired violence, rule of law and accountability.
Even when this isn’t necessarily true, the idiom ‘better the devil you know, than the angel you don’t’ is often application.
For the socio-economic and political development of the African continent to be possible, our opposition political leaders should not just advocate ‘change’ but must put their individual aspirations aside and promote national goals, values and aspirations.
They should have a certain commitment towards promoting and enhancing economic growth and development just like it’s done in the Western world.
So, like we mimic social trends from the West, we should also copy the modern political strategies that are mainly patriotic and nationalistic.
Edward Rutabingwa is a social commentator