Thursday, January 08, 2004

THE DEATH OF GUINEAN DEMOCRACY -- SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNISTS ROUND ON MUGABE
The Daily Mail and Guardian reports the anti-democratic moves by Guinean head of state General Lansana Conte. Fantamady Conde, an opposition militant, called for civil disobedience: “We can’t resist Conte by violent means. His ruthless militants and sections of the army may come down hard on the people.” However, opposition leader Ba Mamadou disagreed. He told Ivorian paper Fraternité Matin, "Only violence can resolve the Guinean problem." This is a testament to the powerlessness and lack of ideas on the part of the sclerotic opposition. With the exception of Sidya Toure, a former prime minister under Conte, all the leaders of the main opposition parties are the same as they were ten years ago... at the birth of multipartyism. Much like the regime, the opposition is in desperate need of renewal. The regime would do well to remember President Kennedy's words, "Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable." On the other hand, Guinea has absolutely no need to introduce violence into its political scene. Their Liberian, Ivorian and Sierra Leonian brothers can tell them that once that Pandora's Box is opened, it's almost impossible to close back up.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) issued a statement on the 9th anniversary of the death of Joe Slovo, the formation's former leader. But interestingly, the SACP criticized the way in which Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and his cronies have betrayed their own nationalist ideals. The SACP statement noted that Slovo constantly insisted that, in the context of national liberation struggles, it was imperative for working people to safeguard an independent ideological and organisational platform. Africa, he noted, is littered with examples of once-heroic struggles stagnating post-independence under the domination of emergent, supposedly nationalist, rent-seeking bourgeoisies, abusing newly acquired state power for personal accumulation. With the contemporary example of Zimbabwe close to hand, the SACP is convinced that Slovo’s concerns in this direction were absolutely valid.

A column in Banjul's The Independent described democracy in Africa as 'new wine in old bottles.' The piece the Gambian paper begins: The problems of democracy in Africa are varied and complex. From the lack of coherent governance institutions, to the personalization of political power and authority, to the credibility of electoral politics, the African continent struggles to establish what has been identified as the best known form of governance known to humankind - over four decades after independence. There is, to my mind, one aspect of democracy that is hardly ever mentioned in debates and analysis of the subject in relation to Africa. That is, the nature of the continent's political culture.

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