President Barak Obama has moral high ground to fix Africa – Lloyd Msipa

OPINION – The historic ascendency of the first African-American to the Presidency of the most powerful country in the world is not only commendable but presents a new era in the relations between Africa and the west. It is a truism that America leads all western countries when it comes to having a position in terms of their ideology to the politics of any African country, Zimbabwe included despite the widely held believe that Britain holds sway.

The current impasse between the two major political parties, Zanu PF and the MDC in the country has resulted in immense suffering for the people of Zimbabwe.

As I write talks are currently taking place with a view of arriving at some sought of power sharing arrangement.

The fact that the Americans can go to the polls and have the results begin to trickle in a few hours after the closure of the polls is to be admired. At no time did we hear of violence between the Democrats and the Republicans. The loosing candidate, in this instance Senator John McCain and his team were quick to honourable concede defeat after failing to clinch the state of Ohio and the subsequent realisation of what it meant to loose. We as Zimbabweans could draw a few lessons from this. Our elections despite being marred in violence, bodies where littered everywhere such that up to this day decomposing bodies are still turning up.

 What does the Obama victory lesson hold for us? Firstly it made me take a good look at myself, look at the leaders of my country and the way they have been conducting themselves at the expense of the people. Essentially, leaders should be servants of the people and should refuse any attempt to be idolised by their people. But because the leaders in Zimbabwe accept this, they in turn galvanise the temporary powers bestowed on them into a permanent state of affairs, hence the dictatorship. Any attempt to hold credible elections is self defeating in such an environment. Any Zimbabwean worth their salt should be able to look inwardly, galvanise enough strength to be self critical. In this respect we should be bold enough to point out whatever is wrong with the establishment. The outcome of the American elections has brought about a new era of thinking. Barak Obama the son of Kenyan immigrant “had the audacity to hope” and in that hope he has became the President of the most powerful nation on earth. This brings our own Zimbabwean situation into perspective. Fellow Zimbabweans, our beloved President Robert Mugabe has seen off five American Presidents, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W Bush (Senior), Bill Clinton and now President George W Bush.(Junior)

Closer home our President Robert Mugabe has seen off Presidents Pieter W Botha, Frederick W De Clerk, Nelson Mandela and more recently President Thabo Mbeki, he himself the architecture of the current talks of power sharing. I will not mention leadership changes in Namibia and Mozambique and other African countries. This pattern of overstaying in office is widespread in Africa and requires fixing. It is my humble contention that Africa, (like the middle- east with regard to previous American Presidents) will be the Obama playground. 

At home, it is time as Zimbabweans we claimed and occupied the moral high ground and be more critical of ourselves. If we do not sought out our own issues somebody else will on their own terms. We need change in Zimbabwe. Do not get me wrong I am not advocating for regime change here, nor am I saying Tsvangirayi should take over. What I am saying is that we need to get to a point where leadership renewal becomes part of our culture. We need to get to a place where we are comfortable talking about limiting the terms of our leaders. Complacency is a characteristic that is human and therefore even the President of Zimbabwe can and will become complacent with the people’s project over time. The recent Barak Obama victory in America is testimony of the complacency in the Bush administration.

The African argument of neo colonialism and imperialistic agendas have now run their course and hence the need to fix the African agenda. The election of Senator Barak Obama as President of America gives those who in our continent wish to hold on to power without the people’s mandate something to worry about. In the past, any attempt by America or indeed the British to interfere in the domestic affairs of Africans was met with arguments of neo-colonialism and imperialistic agendas. Now that we a ‘son of the soil’ leading the incoming administration in America it is my belief he has the ‘locus standi’ to take on any wayward African leader(s) and countries without worrying about the ‘imperialism’ agenda argument and so on. He can comfortable take the moral high ground and claim his actions are based on him being the ‘son of the soil’. The President Obama wars may just as well be in Africa as he endeavours to fix Africa.  

Lloyd Msipa writes from London, England. He can be contacted at lmsipalaw@googlemail.com