Mubarak’s humbling moments and Rwanda’s political formula

The sight of Egypt's long serving leader bound to a stretcher and caged in the dock is a humiliation that has certainly set tongues wagging especially among Africa’s long serving leaders. Seeing Egypt’s former strong man reclined to a stretcher in the dock alongside his sons must be a humbling moment that any leader would never wish to experience in their life time.

The sight of Egypt's long serving leader bound to a stretcher and caged in the dock is a humiliation that has certainly set tongues wagging especially among Africa’s long serving leaders. 

Seeing Egypt’s former strong man reclined to a stretcher in the dock alongside his sons must be a humbling moment that any leader would never wish to experience in their life time.

Imagine the sadness and humiliation of reducing one’s legacy to that last minute photo of stretcher inside a cage or being smoked out of a hole like a rat.

Saddam Hussein will forever be remembered for that moment when US Marines were opening his mouth wide like a village kid taken to the dentist with a decaying dental formulae. Now, Hosni Mubarak‘s only memory is not the decorated General he was but rather the wounded lion stretched in a cage.

Sadly, instead of our leaders picking a lesson from the humiliation that Mubarak is now facing, some are turning a deaf ear and instead condemning the court process.  

Take the example of Nigeria's former President Olusengun Obasanjo. He scoffed at the trial as a disgrace, saying it was wrong to hold Mubarak like a chicken thief.

Using the usual lame excuse, he said such an act would make other Presidents less likely to relinquish power voluntarily.

Recall that in 2007, Obasanjo’s project of amending Nigeria’s constitution to give him a third term in office was defeated, forcing him to relinquish power not out of his own will.

But let’s even consider this warning from Nigeria’s former strong man that some leaders might want to cling to power for fear of what they see in Egypt’s court rooms.  Who says Mubarak left office out of his own will? He was sent packing by a popular uprising and who says it cannot happen anywhere? Tunisia, Yemen, Syria and Libya are still reeling from the ripple effects.

Secondly, those leaders who have chosen violence over democracy and are more interested in building family dynasties with illegally amassed wealth have time to read the political temperatures and get back to the drawing board. 

Times are changing and the unrest we see in the Arab spring is beginning to send tremors down to the south of the Sahara. For example, in Senegal, Cameroon, Malawi, the youth are taking to the streets angry about growing unemployment and failure by the leadership to listen to their concerns.

What we need to understand is that the problem transcends the issue of youth unemployment as many commentators have pointed out. 

The problem is political in nature and is rooted in the democratic template that we, in the developing world (especially Africa) have been using for decades, if not centuries, but which clearly brews hostility and divisions among our populace.

This political template has not only sowed seeds of discord but has also nurtured a culture where acquiring power means a moment  of ‘eating’ since one is not certain of what the future holds.

But can there be a remedy to this?

To be fair, I think what Rwanda has crafted in her constitution offers a tangible solution. The principles of consensus building and power-sharing offer a peaceful and lasting solution to the hostility that has repeatedly been brewing across the continent.

The act of political opponents behaving like high-school-love gone sour is simply not workable anymore. To oppose does not mean outright political hostility. 

If we claim to be working for the common good of the ordinary person, our leaders must show the humility of putting their differences aside, sitting on the same table and hammer out a common program that accommodates their differing views.

That way, the opposition’s critical contribution to nation building is not ignored but rather incorporated in the larger harmonised common agenda.

This is why consensus building on what forms the common good for citizens is a principle that should be embraced, not the routine noisy exchanges that only serve to please the very people that introduced this kind of democracy.

Just like President Paul Kagame once said, power sharing should not be forced down rivals’ throats at the last minute when elections have gone sour.  It should be a tenet enshrined in the supreme law and respected in all form.  Indeed, forced marriages never last.

But a marriage that is earlier planned has more chances of lasting than one that simply falls at your door-step.

Like we have seen with the Arab uprisings, the myth surrounding Africa’s powerful men has been broken. The bullish and arrogant nature of Africa’s renowned despots cannot succeed anymore.

The desire today is to have functioning democracy that rightly places equal opportunity for all, irrespective of their political beliefs or affiliations.

However, the colonial formula that Africa has been following seems to have sowed more seeds of disharmony than provide a workable democratic solution. Rwanda is taking a different path and her view of democracy and how it should be practised is a viable venture that Africa should read with keen interest.

on twitter @aasiimwe

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