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Akua Djanie Refle c t ions of an Ordinary Woman

Why vote?

Why must the African vote for any political party to come to power? I have thrown away my voter’s card and until I see a true African leader with the spirit of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, I’m no longer going to waste my time and dirty my thumb with poisonous ink in the cause of voting for anybody.


ou know, I really think I have psychic powers. Seriously. I think when it comes to African politics, I can predict the future. I say this because for several years now, I have been advocating a new way for Africans to elect their

governments. I have been telling everyone who will listen and forcing those who are not interested to pay attention, to how I think African leaders should be elected because really, the cur- rent state of affairs is not working. Let me explain. Currently across the continent, people are

encouraged to go out and vote for the party of their choice. Prior to the voting day and as part of the campaign, “politrickcians”, their wives and other party officials travel the length and breadth of their country, promising this and that to the people. They come bearing T-shirts, baseball caps and some petty cash. They rant and rave about what they will do for the people if

Party X will form the next government. Then begins the war. The losing party will cry foul and demand a recount. Lots of

“African leaders either do not know how to improve the life of their people or they simply do not care.”

given power. They erect large billboards and put their faces on T-shirts. They plaster their posters everywhere, adding to the already filthy environment. The people wear the T-shirts, duly listen to all the messages and maybe, based on that or other factors, they decide who to vote for. Simultaneously, as the various political contenders bypass

each other, crisscrossing the country, the Electoral Commission will also be on a huge public campaign to inform individuals of their right to vote, and why they must exercise this right. So election day comes. People leave their homes early in the

morning. Some travel by foot. Others use the deplorable buses available. By any means necessary people make their way to the nearest polling station, and put their thumbprint where it matters. For some, the wait to reach the ballot box can be long, hours and hours, but they stand in the scorching sun and wait for their turn to vote. Satisfied, they go home. “I have had a say,” they tell themselves. Fast forward to days later. The Electoral Commission (EC)

calls the media and amidst suspense and tension on the part of the political contenders, the head of the EC makes the big announcement. After going through the votes region by region – or whatever method has been used – the winner is announced.

64 | March 2011 New African

noise will be made, name-calling will become the norm (actu- ally, the name-calling forms part of the pre-election campaign!), threats of violence and civil war will be made at some stage. And in some cases the votes will go to another round. Once again, people go through the process of waking up early, travelling, waiting in the hot sun and voting. That is what happens in the good cases. And in such cases, the second-round results seem to be more acceptable even to the losing party, even if they lost in the first round! So in that situation, there is a clear-cut winner in the end. Unfortunately, things are not always so simple, as we have seen in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire. In such instances, both parties refuse to back

down. There is a political deadlock with both parties refusing to accept the results as officially announced. Neither party wants a second round of votes. They want to be declared the winner there and then. Then begins the game of going back and forth. The African Union, European Union and indeed Any Union diplomats (and people like Kofi Annan) are tasked with the job of bringing some sanity to the situation. Back and forth they go, first talk- ing to one party, then the other. Back and forth, back and forth and in the case of Kenya and Zimbabwe, a unity government is formed, thus allowing both the winner and loser in the election the opportunity to be in power. And that is what it is all about. Getting and holding on to

power. As we have seen time and time again, African leaders either do not know how to improve the life of their people or they simply do not care. So this brings me rather neatly to my solution. Africans should no longer vote on who should govern them. Seriously. Africans should have no say whatever in which political party comes to power, because by all accounts it seems our votes do not matter. Why should an African go through the stress of going to a polling station and voting for the party of his or her choice, but if that party wins, not being allowed to enjoy the victory and the power that goes with it? Obviously what African leaders are saying is this: “I don’t care what the people want, I want to be president for life.” Now

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