By Garikai Chimuka
The December 07 African National Congress (ANC) elective congress set for Polokwane is not only a significant and historic event for South Africa but for Africa as well.In fact , a lot is at stake including the extraordinary legacy of the revered and iconic founding South African president, Nelson Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela. Mandela bequeathed a rare lesson to
Africa mainly that leaders are in service to the people and must never hold on to power than is necessary under any guise. This legacy is under severe test at the Polokwane Congress and the ANC delegates must realize the weight of responsibility not only to their membership but indeed to all Africa and the unborn generations when they decide the next leader to lead the ANC and probably the continent's biggest economy come 2009.
is the most respected African voice in the world today is beyond debate. Although the extend to which South Africa has used its prestigious economic status to provide leadership to vexing African problems has met varying degrees of success, its common cause that South Africa is and should be the trend setter in African politics. Thus the national leadership of South Africa South Africa can not be divorced from the leadership of the 950 million impoverished people in a continent called Africa. Hence whatever happens in South Africa has a direct and indirect impact across all Africa. It thus becomes the prayer of all progressive souls in Africa to have a that provides a model for running a democratic developmental state. South Africa
At the core of the African problems today is not only the scars of a dark past, a dark past characterized by slavery , colonialism, apartheid and subjugation, but also a past of unfulfilled promises by the post independent African leaders .Many an African leader has made the fatal mistake of overstaying in power for power's sake with disastrous consequences. Examples that quickly come to mind include
Zimbabwe under Mugabe, under Banda and the DRC under Mobutu just to mention but a few. Malawi
It is within this context that a fundamental issue emerging from contemporary African constitutionalism is the concept of coming up with constitutional clauses that limits presidential terms. This is inspired by the realization that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It has been worse in Africa where most post colonial leaders have become too drunk with power to the extend of turning African countries into their personal fiefdoms, destroying the dreams of the masses who would have invested that power in them in expectation of fulfillment of their developmental aspirations. When the people try to peacefully reclaim that power , the power drunk dictators have often unleashed violence, manipulated constitutions and wrecked their economies for no justified and enduring national reason beyond holding on to power for their own personal corrupt interests. In such cases, this has led to the unfortunate military coups, failed states and genocide, sad chapters in post colonial
Thus when Nelson Mandela came and successfully oversaw the delicate transformation from apartheid to a new democratic rainbow nation, he realized that on the basis of his advanced age, his time was up. He did the unthinkable act in
Africa by voluntarily handing over power to the next generation when he was still popular and qualified to run for another term. This is a strong message about servant leadership that should have reverbated across the whole continent setting Africa on a path of a new prosperous democratic dispensation. Unfortunately, the gist of this vital but rare act seems not to have been understood, not least by the incumbent South of the Limpopo who , at a ripe age of 83, is still interested in running for office after 27 years of failed uninterrupted rule , but also by those in the top echelons of the ANC who must know better but are still trying to cling to power at Polokwane.
The Polokwane Congress must thus rise to the occasion and on behalf of all
Africa , send a clear message that no individual , however good his intentions or successful his track record ,can be allowed to perpetuate the tragedy of African leadership that has been buried by the selfless legacy of Nelson Mandela
To this end, the delegates must send a loud, clear, categorical, total and decisive message that what is good for the South African constitution (which limits presidential terms to two) must also be good for such a progressive and mass party like the ANC which is the dominant and most progressive party in Africa.
Whilst I am not South African and hold no brief for any South African politician, the ANC Polokwane congress must demystify the long African chronic problem of celebrating personalities to the extend of making them synonymous with the party. No single individual is bigger than the ANC for the ANC is as good as its collective and rich mosaic. Hence a lot of capable leaders are waiting in the wings across tribe, gender and generations and must be given the opportunity to lead the party and possibly the country in 2009.
The congress must get down to serious business and choose a leadership that will be able to address the chronic challenges confronting
South Africa and Africa today. Domestically, challenges like violent crime, HIV/AIDS pandemic, delivery of social services like health, education , housing , social security, jobs and a black equity policy that does not create an elite propertied petty black bourgeoisie dominion in perpetuity but that widens and broadens the scope of black economic empowerment.
On the African front, decisive solutions to Zimbabwean crisis,
Darfur, Burundi, and the Eastern part of the DRC also need to be tackled. Internationally, the growing trade imbalances, UN reform agenda and climate change must be in the range of the new leadership's trajectory. The fact that most of these problems have been on the radar for a long time without decisive action to address them clearly calls for a break with the past in order to tap fresh ideas from new actors who don't fear to tread where angels fear. Somalia
The Polokwane congress as a matter of principle must also put in place a team that has the leadership gravitas to deliver a memorable 2010 FIFA World Cup on behalf of Africa for indeed the event is an African World Cup
All in all the Polokwane Congress has the opportunity to re-assert the notion that Africa has come of age by primarily and fundamentally endorsing the Nelson Mandela legacy as an extraordinary act of deepening the African democratic project
Garikai Agenda Chimuka is a Zimbabwean writing from the
and can be contacted at email@example.com Netherlands
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