Democracy and legitimacy in Africa
The time has come for Africa to stand up together and fight with one voice the attempts by the metropolitan powers to dictate who is a legitimate leader in Africa and who is not. The history of such dictation shows the pursuit of Western self-interest at the cost of African nationalist interests, writes Dr Motsoko Pheko.
Zimbabwe is once again a wake-up call to all Africans who value their national sovereignty and control of their mineral wealth and other natural resources. The sustained attack on Zimbabwe is an economic war by Western countries on Africa.
These countries have a long history of a “planned regime”. If this fails, they resort to “regime change”. To Britain and America, and all their satellites, “democracy” and “legitimacy” is when their interests prevail over those of the African people.
It is reported that the American, British, Canadian and Australian governments do not believe that the recent election results in Zimbabwe represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
It is, therefore, important to point out that for all the long years when African states and the United Nations demanded economic sanctions against Ian Smith’s rebel colonial regime in Rhodesia and against apartheid South Africa, the European powers (led by the USA) opposed these sanctions. Britain’s Margaret Thatcher argued that sanctions would hurt “ordinary Rhodesians and black South Africans”.
This was all false. The countries of Western Europe had long had a “planned regime” strategy during the colonial days in Africa. This was put in place immediately they got a signal that Africans were determined to end colonialism and all forms of domination.
In Zimbabwe, the Western countries preferred Bishop Abel Muzorewa. Many attempts were made to assassinate Robert Mugabe even after the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979. In colonial Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Britain and its Western allies preferred Harry Kumbula to Kenneth Kaunda. In Lesotho, they preferred Jonathan Leabua to Ntsu Mokhehle, to the point of staging a coup d’état against him and stopping his being sworn in as the prime minister of Lesotho.
In Ghana, Britain never liked Kwame Nkrumah. It was only when the “Gold Coast” (now Ghana) became ungovernable that Britain conceded to the demands of Nkrumah’s CPP Party. In Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta of KANU was never the British colonial preference. They called him a Mau Mau leader, “a leader of darkness’”. In South Africa (Azania), Prof. Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was never liked by the West and their agents. He was imprisoned on Robben Island without even a mockery of a trial and later banished until his death – through poisoning, his colleagues said. President Nkrumah was democratically elected in Ghana. But the Western countries (led again by America) used the CIA to overthrow his government.
Patrice Lumumba was legitimately elected the first prime minister of DRCongo. The Belgian and American governments were involved in his assassination and overthrow of his government. There is also a strong suspicion that white supremacists conspired, possibly with the collusion of Western powers, to assassinate Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN Secretary-General who was championing the Congo’s independence and defending its sovereignty.
Milton Obote of Uganda was equally overthrown by Britain under Edward Heath’s government. Idi Amin was installed and he murdered thousands of Ugandans. All these African leaders were overthrown or killed because they did not fit the “planned regime” strategy of the West. They were not trusted to look after neo-colonial economic interests at the expense of African economic interests.
This century Western leaders have come up with a “regime change” strategy. The excuse is that some African leaders had stayed too long in power. Well, in Britain, Prime Minister Robert Walpole ruled for 21 years. Elsewhere in Africa, Daniel Arap Moi ruled Kenya for 24 years. Hastings Banda ruled Malawi for 33 years. Mobuto Sese Seko ruled DRCongo for 37 years. Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo was president for 41 years. Omar Bongo Ondima of Gabon equally ruled for 41 years. Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years. Western leaders never pointed fingers at these leaders. They toed the line. They served western interests more than those of their own countries. In fact, Mobutu and Mubarak were very close allies of the USA. None of these leaders were ever asked to give in to democracy until their people drove them out of power.
It is an insult to intelligent Africans who recall that the countries that practised slavery, colonialism and racism and perpetrated atrocities against other humans, killing them and taking their lands and riches, are today posing as “teachers” of “democracy”, “legitimacy”, “good governance” and “rule of law”.
In 1994, the Americans and other Western countries showed up in a big way in apartheid South Africa. They applied their “planned regime” strategy. They picked from the liberation movements who was “extremist” and who was “moderate”. By “moderate” they meant leaders who would protect especially their foreign economic interests at the expense of their own African people.
Western countries, with few exceptions, supported the apartheid regime in South Africa. Relying on this support, Dr Gert Viljoen, the minister of constitutional affairs under President F. W. de Klerk, in 1990 made his government’s position very clear about who the South African regime would negotiate with.
“We want to change our approach,” he said. “But we would be negotiating even the name [of the country]. Many blacks call it Azania. I think there is no likelihood of coming to an agreement with them. They are the extreme Pan Africanist Congress [PAC]. The name Azania sounds a warning note of a break in history. In our thinking, a complete break in history would be unacceptable. We will have to provide some continuation of the past.”
Indeed, that “continuation of the past” is obvious in South Africa today. Whites, who are only 8.9%, according to the recent population census, still control 87% of the land to 13% allocated to the African indigenous majority, who make up a good 79.2% of the population.
This land dispossession is entrenched in section 25(7) of the “New South Africa” constitution, and they tell us this constitution is one of the most progressive in the world!
Explaining the reason why the apartheid regime should quickly negotiate with the “moderates”, The Star newspaper in Johannesburg reported at that time: “To the left of the ANC is the PAC, a bunch too radical for reasonable conversation… Unless the government talks to the ANC soon, and reaches an accommodation, the time will come when it would wish it had the ANC to talk to instead of the more radical organisations. Better by far to talk to the Mandelas, Tambos and Makatinis, conservative men all of them.”
During the 1994 elections, the American government heavily financed Mandela’s ANC to ensure that the De Klerk-Mandela “planned regime” succeeded. Stanley B. Greenberg and Frank Geer directed the ANC election campaign. These two men were President Clinton’s own pollster and image-maker respectively.
In his book, Dispatches from the War Room, Greenberg writes: “The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) launched an anti-pass campaign… Close to 70 demonstrators in Sharpeville were massacred, putting the international limelight on the Pan Africanist Congress…
“The PAC was the only other party with standing in the anti-apartheid struggle, thus a majority of Africans viewed it favourably. The PAC boycotted the negotiations … and … advocated the expropriation of white land without compensation.”
The truth however is that the PAC had a long policy of equitable redistribution of land. It was the European colonial settlers who expropriated land from the Africans, and not the other way round.
Now it is nearly 20 years since the “negotiations” with the “moderates” ended in South Africa. But land and its riches are still the property of a European minority.
When the 1994 election results were announced, even The Times (of London) conceded that the election could not have been considered “free and fair’’. The newspaper reported: “There is agreement that there was widespread fraud and cheating.”
Bill Deeds of the Daily Telegraph (also of London) added his voice: “By our own electoral standard,” he wrote, “the conduct of South Africa’s general election and counting of votes has been deplorable.”
A senior official of the South African apartheid regime later corroborated that the 1994 elections had been “embarrassing and flawed”. He indicated that De Klerk and Mandela agreed that the elections had to be declared “free and fair” because the alternative would have been a political disaster. “We simply could not afford this thing to go down the tube. It would serve no purpose to cry foul.”
This makes it clear that if an African leader is not favoured by Western powers, he is a wrong leader for democracy. If he or she wins elections, they are illegitimate. If indeed, the leaders of Western countries are people of high morals and almost “infallible”, as they think they are, why did they not give even as much as a hint about the flawed elections in South Africa in 1994?
President Clinton’s two experts, Greenberg and Freez, were there. They had financed and conducted the elections. They knew what had happened!
The Western countries were aware of the majority African support for the Pan Africanist Congress and its undeniable strength in the run-up to the 1994 elections in South Africa. On 29 April 1990, Deon Delport of the Star newspaper in Johannesburg wrote: “A recent survey found among many Sowetan youngsters [that] the PAC is increasingly preferred to the ANC which is viewed as being promoted by the apartheid government.”
In the same article, Delport reported that wide support for the PAC had been found by the researcher Sue Lerena for McCann, a Johannesburg-based advertising firm. Lerena later said: “My own view was [that] we could end up like in Zimbabwe where whites were stunned and shocked by the defeat of Bishop Abel Muzorewa by Mr Robert Mugabe.”
The media further reported that: “The so-called main players are losing support, but where is it going to? The most important change over the past years has been the rise in support of the Pan Africanist Congress among blacks. The PAC is poised to emerge as the single most powerful electoral force … even though it is almost exclusively black.” (Work in progress magazine, 17 June 1993.)
After the assassination of Chris Hani, several newspapers reported on Clarence Makwetu, the president of the PAC and Nelson Mandela of the ANC. “Mr. Nelson Mandela, the icon of the black struggle against apartheid, was booed at a meeting in Soweto when he upset many in a crowd of around 30,000 people with a friendly reference to the ruling apartheid party.
One of the biggest cheers of the two-hour event came when Mr Clarence Makwetu, leader of the radical Pan Africanist Congress, strode into the packed stadium in the middle of Mr Mandela’s speech. “Mr Mandela was forced to pause as the crowd cheered and whistled for a beaming Makwetu who told them ‘we have come to a time when leaders run out of words’. The crowd rose to him and set off thunder flashes, while some ANC officials on the platform looked dismayed.”
So how did the PAC voters disappear on Election Day, 27 April 1994? Was there massive rigging in the presence of Clinton’s own men? What did they do about this? They never said a word after that!
Writing about the strength of the political parties in South Africa, Dr Vladamir Tickhomiov, the learned secretary of the Russian Academy of Science’s African Institute, confirmed prior to the 1994 South African elections, that: “The alliance of the ANC is weaker than that of other black organisations and movements. The ideology of Africanism and black awareness prevail among the majority of the politically active blacks.
“This was especially true when black organisations had the opportunity of leaving the underground and becoming legal.”
“It was not surprising when a German magazine, Geheim, stated: “The so-called independent electoral commission as well as the technical personnel handling the elections in South Africa was infiltrated by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) agents in places like Johannesburg, Western Cape, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Durban” (Geheim, 30 April 1994).
Zimbabwe is being attacked because it wants to control its own riches, which have been looted by Western companies for far too long. Africa must defend Zimbabwe. Africa cannot forever have its riches looted by imperialists through puppet leaders. Former slave traders have no credentials to qualify as champions of democracy and legitimacy in Africa.
(Dr Motsoko Pheko is author of several books, among which are ‘The Hidden Side of South African Politics’; and ‘Towards Africa’s Authentic Liberation’)