Split the ANC?

A lot has been written about the feuding within the ANC and the talk of forming a new party by some supporters of former President Thabo Mbeki. However, most of the articles I have read focused on former minister’s views as to why a new party may be needed, and left me (and I am sure many readers outside of South Africa) wondering if there was any grassroots support for it. This article in the Guardian, however, suggests that there may very well be support for it, at least in some regions of the country.

My concern is that the new party may not have a broad, multi-ethnic support, and could end up splitting the ANC across ethnic lines. The danger then is that violence could breakout between the supporters of the ANC headed by Zuma and the new party. What makes this fear real is the threat by the ANC’s youth leader “to kill for Mr. Zuma.”

I am not going to weigh in as to whether the ANC should split, since there are good arguments as to the pros and cons: A pro is that it is good for democracy and accountability to have two strong parties. The downside of splitting the ANC is that it could lead to gridlock at a time when South Africa needs real reform.

It may be inevitable that the ANC is destined for a split, but the ANC leadership must put the interests of the country before their personal ambitions, because the dangers of a split are real and could destroy South Africa. Zuma, as the leader of the party, has the power and responsibility to prevent the ANC from breaking up by addressing the legitimate grievances of those contemplating leaving the party.

The first, and main issue Mr. Zuma needs to address is the lack of respect shown by his supporters for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. I would even suggest that, for the sake of his party and the country, Mr. Zuma should step aside until his corruption trial takes its course. Second, he needs to fire anyone in the ANC who advocates violence, and should start with the ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema. Otherwise we maybe witnessing the beginning of a dangerous period in South Africa, and Mr. Zuma may go down in history as the person most responsible for the aftermath.

Comments off

Counterfeit Drugs Problem

The BBC recently reported that Belgian authorities seized large quantities of counterfeit drugs destined for Africa. This is an alarming report and one of the most dangerous and pressing issues facing Africans today. The issue of counterfeit drugs is not new and will continue to get worse unless governments around the world and the UN start taking it extremely seriously.

Those who manufacture and distribute fake drugs are responsible for the deaths of countless patients and need to be treated as what they are: mass murderers. As such, governments in countries where these drugs are manufactured should be compelled to prosecute them and/or extradite them to countries where the drugs were sold and patients died as a result of taking the drugs.

According to the report the fake drugs were manufactured by a company based in India. The world, and particularly the west African countries where the drugs were destined must press the Indian government to fully prosecute the manufacturers. It is more than likely that this wasn’t the first shipment, and fake drugs made by these criminals are in circulation in Africa and murder charges should be brought against those responsible. Fake malaria drugs kill, and those responsible must be prosecuted for murder, and not be treated like white collar criminals and prosecuted for fraud.

Prosecution alone is not going to solve the problem since this is a very lucrative business, and other measures are needed to limit the amount of fake drugs being sold. Manufacturers of legitimate drugs, whose products are being counterfeited, need to work with African and other third world countries (who are bearing the brunt of this problem) to setup labs to test random samples of drugs being sold in those countries. I believe the best way to do this is to setup a non-profit organization, funded by the drug companies, where the organization would then be tasked to work with the drug companies, governments, hospitals and pharmacies to randomly test drugs, and also educate health workers and pharmacists to lookout for telltale signs of counterfeit drugs. On the surface this may sound like an unfair burden is being placed on the drug companies, but i believe in the long run these companies will more than get their money back since the reduction of fake drugs in the market will mean that the void will be filled by real drugs.

Comments off

Friend of Kenya grieves

I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that those of us who are of east African origin, wherever we may currently reside, looked up to Kenya as a shinning beacon in a troubled and turbulent region.

That is why I was very excited to hear the results of the early returns which showed many of the incumbent MPs, especially those who were accused of wrong doing, had lost their seats. It gave me hope that maybe the rest of the countries in the region, and even Africa as a whole, would follow the example set by Kenyan voters; that is, voters will hold elected officials accountable for their actions. Unfortunately all that was undone by cowardly election officials and by selfish, power hungry politicians.

As far as I am concerned, both the president and Mr. Odinga have forfeited their right to become president: The president for declaring victory too soon and being sworn in even though there was plenty of evidence that showed there were irregularities with the reporting of the results. Another reason why the president has forfeited his right to the presidency, and why he needs to resign, is the killings of demonstrators by security forces who apparently were given shoot to kill orders. The orders may not have come directly from him (either the interior minster or the police commissioner may have given the actual order), but ultimately the buck stops with the president.

And Mr. Odinga does not deserver to become the next president of Kenya for failing to demand an end to the senseless killings on Kenyans by his followers. Even though it looks like Mr. Odinga was cheated of the presidency, and he initially called for calm, he should have demanded that his followers refrain from killing Kikuyus for several reasons, one of the reasons being Kikuyus or other ethnic groups were not responsible for the vote rigging. In my opinion this glaring failure disqualifies him from becoming the next president of Kenya. His failure to demand an immediate end to violence demonstrates he lacks the required moral authority and leadership skills he is going to need if he is to lead a country that is going to need to heal the deep wounds it suffered during this crisis.

The main blame for this crisis rests squarely at the shoulders of President Kibaki though. Instead of recognizing that Kenya is the beacon of hope for the region, and that it needs to lead by example, he chose to follow examples set by Ethiopia’s and Nigeria’s recent, largely discredited elections. He saw that the leaders of these countries were able to getaway with blatant disputed elections and thought if they could getaway with it, he should too.

The opposition should have responded by peaceful demonstration, the way Ukrainians did when their election was stolen from them. There is no reason why Africans can’t express their grievance without resorting to violence. We are no more predisposed to violence than our brothers and sisters in other continents are, despite what some people may believe. We have to stop following political leaders who are only interested in their narrow political agenda, and are willing to do and say anything to achieve it.

My biggest fear now is that Kenya will be permanently scarred by this, and will never be the same again. I hope and believe this isn’t going to be the case though. I believe kenyans can and will overcome this tragedy and come out the stronger for it by vowing never to kill another kenyan for political reasons.

In my view, one way to recover from this crisis is to start by forming a national unity government until presidential elections are re-run. This national unity government should be lead by somebody respected by most, if not all, Kenyans. I am not Kenyan, so have no right to suggest a name, but if I had to pick one then it would have to be Nobel peace prize winner Professor Wangari Maathai.

The second step in this process would be to hold a truth and reconciliation like hearings to grieve and forgive. The final step in this recovery process would involve the erection of a monument to remember the lives lost in this senseless violence, so Kenyans will never forget what happened and will never let it happen again.

We Africans have to understand that African lives are just as precious as the lives of those from other continents. We can’t resort to killing our neighbors every time we disagree with them, be it for social, economic or political reasons. After all, no politician is worth a single life, let alone hundreds or thousands of lives.

Comments off

« Previous Page « Previous Page Next entries »