Is Africa on the forward or backward motion?By TITUS SHEM MAKUMA | Monday, April 30 2012 at 17:18
This question can best be answered when one looks at the current economic and political trends on the continent. On the forward move, yes, few countries like Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Senegal and Malawi have shown strong interest in the democratic reforms which will eventually create opportunities for economic and political turn-around.
On the other hand, majority of the African states appear to be on the backward shift considering their consistent economic and political instability. Looking at the West African states, the region has had a very bad history of coup d’etats, which have claimed lives, displaced communities and affected major economic development initiatives.
Statistics on conflict trends in Africa between 1946 and 2004 portray a disturbing record of more than 175 successful, attempted, plotted and alleged coup cases in West Africa alone. The most recent being in Mali and Guinea-Bissau.
Nigeria leads the Ecowas list with a record of 15 coup d’etats followed by Sierra Leone with 14 cases of coups, and Liberia and Togo with 13 each. Ghana, which experienced insecurity 12 times, has now recovered and become an African model for democratic reforms.
The UN Security Council and the AU need to have a clear strategy on how to minimise political insecurity on the African continent, especially in West Africa. Different people may have varying views on such scenarios, but partly it may be lack of professionalism in the security organs.
Besides high profile training, the security personnel should be sensitised on how to respect their uniforms, ranks and the national colours. Take the case of the recent coup in Mali, which ousted the democratically recognised government of former President Amadou Toumani Toure, ending more than 20 years of democracy in the country.
The coup leader, Capt Amadou Sanogo, gave some unjustifiable reasons as being insecurity in northern Mali, caused by the Tuareg rebels. He said in a broadcast interview: “When a state is already 50-years-old, and unfortunately the armed forces and security operate under minimal conditions to defend its territory, this is a failure.”
Unfortunately, barely a night or so following those unjustifiable remarks, the Tuareg rebels capitalised on the insecurity in the country and moved faster to capture more towns, including the famous tourist city of Timbuktu, and eventually declared northern independence from the south. All this happened in the face of the short-lived regime of the military junta. They did nothing to stop the political crisis in the north.
The best they could have offered was to sit together at a round table with the former regime and draw a clear military and political strategy to liberate the north from aggression other than creating yet another crisis in Bamako. Hopefully, the situation in the north will be handled well with the new civilian rule of Dioncounda Traore, a high profile and respected national figure.
Turning to Guinea-Bissau, the story is not any better. The impoverished former Portuguese colony has been plagued by a long series of coups since gaining independence in 1974, and has recently become an important staging post for gangs smuggling drugs from Latin America to Europe.
The coup leaders allege that the interim government had done a secret deal to allow Angolan troops to wipe out Guinea-Bissau’s army. However, the Angolan government has reaffirmed that it was withdrawing about 200 officers, who have been in the country for the last year to help with training and reform of the army. This is the 11th time Guinea-Bissau is recording an undemocratic coup in the country.
No president has completed a full term since independence from Portugal in 1974. The latest coup happened just before the second round of presidential elections, called after the death in January of President Malam Bacai Sanha, following a long illness. Could this be something to do with poor state of living among the citizens and the military ranks?
Not at all. I believe it has a lot to do with loose structures and unprofessionalism in the army. Both the AU and UN Security Council should go back to the drawing board to avert this situation for future economic empowerment.
Elsewhere in the continent, a serious study should also be made on countries like Sudan, which heads the entire continent with a record 25 cases of coups, Burundi, Comoros and Congo Brazzaville which have recorded 12 cases each.
Interestingly, countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and others on the continent, which have professionalised their security forces, have actually gained an upper hand in instilling discipline in the forces to some extent, which will progressively lead to economic and political reforms.
Like North America and Europe, Africa needs good strategic security measures which will enable it to meet the Millennium Development Goals of this century. Forward, yes! Backward, never!
Rev Titus Shem Makuma, is the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Western(Uganda) Regional Overseer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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