Reason Wafawarova on Monday
Naturally ideas have to evolve with time and so do politics. There was a time the liberation and empowerment ethos of the black power era was the engulfing thought among people of African decent across the world, and there was a time the anti-colonialism legacy gave a huge boost to the image of the Non-Aligned Movement, a body whose relevance and significance has taken a dive since the fall of the Soviet Union.
We live in an era where today’s urban young African political activists largely style themselves as advocates for democracy, good governance, and free and fair elections. These demands cannot be faulted by any fair-minded person, but concern arises when the concept of democracy is elevated through aphoristic and vatic prose imported in admiration of the Western lexicon, without any form of regard to the context of the African political culture — all in the name of adapting to the ideals of Western enlightenment.
During the 8th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly, held in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2007, George Soros’ Open Society Institute prepared for the African Union something the organisation called The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG).
The document submitted to the AU was a modified version of a peer document submitted to the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC) at Lima, Peru on September 11, 2001 — again by OSI.
In a report prepared by Edward R. McMahon in May 2007, the AU 8th Ordinary Session adopted the OSI document and the hope then was that the document would be ratified by at least 15 African countries before it became law.
It took five years for the document to be ratified by the required minimum number of countries, and there was a lot of lobbying by OSI and some Western governments for this to happen. The first country to ratify this Charter in exchange for aid was Mauritania, and this was on 28 July 2008. The AU had adopted the document a year earlier.
Ethiopia was second to adopt the Charter in January 2009, followed by Sierra Leone in December the same year, and pretty much for the same aid motivated reasons. After this it was Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Rwanda, Ghana who joined in 2010, and again it was largely just a trade off for Western aid.
Then followed Jacob Zuma’s South Africa in 2011, the same year that country made the murderous blunder of ratifying UN Resolution 1973 in support of the ruinous invasion of Libya, leading to the tragic murder of Muammar Gaddafi.
Rupiah Banda’s Zambia also traded off its signature for Western aid in 2011, alongside Guinea, Niger and Chad. To complete the list in 2012 were Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, and finally Cameroon.
Effectively the Soros’ Charter came into force as law in February 2012, and it did so in striking resemblance to how colonialism came to Africa in the 19th Century — spreading and expanding its tentacles from South America to the jungles of Africa.
Wrote Edward R. McMahon: “In recent decades the OAS has devoted considerable attention to the question of how it can help promote democratic governance in member states. Its policies in this regard have evolved considerably, especially as the number of democracies in the OAS has increased over the past three decades. As such, it can be instructive to the African Union, which could be said to be at an earlier stage of a potentially similar trajectory.”
Not many people in Africa are aware of the OSI document, or the adopted so-called Charter. This, coupled with how the document was smuggled in for AU adoption without debate, and the time it took before the minimum 15 countries could be mobilised, speaks volumes about the carefree attitude Africa leaders have towards foreign policy. There was no effort whatsoever to debate the suitability of the document to the African context, and certainly very little to modify it, and to at least give it an African flavour.
The document is an international statement that says African leaders and the people they lead are essentially incapable of defining democracy, and they have no ability to determine a roadmap to credible elections and good governance. At least 15 countries ratified that school of thought, and sadly we cannot reverse that insult anymore, even if the law were to be repealed.
The Charter has the usual clauses on democracy itself, defining the concept for Africa in a Western way, and prescribing how Africa must strive to do what the South American States are praised for doing by the West.
This democratisation of “primitive Africa” is a real burden for the “well governed and civilised” West, just like it is in regards to the “terror minded” Arab communities in the Middle East.
The democracy sought here is not the rule of the people, by the people and for the people, as defined by the founding fathers of this nobility we all are keen to embrace.
Rather, it is the rule of Soros’ Charter for the Africans, by African puppet leaders pliant to the Western cause. So this kind democracy does not and cannot redistribute the stolen farmlands in South Africa. It cannot promote value addition for African raw materials, often so looted by people from where the OSI document originated.
Soros’ Charter is not about Africans gaining full control of their vast natural resources and developing themselves into an industrialised community. It is a Charter about well written newspapers, many radio stations, independent electoral commissions, and such other paramount issues like respect and tolerance for homosexuality and same sex marriage — issues we are told are the cornerstones of the West’s brand of democracy.
There is nothing in Soros’ Charter about the right to education, food, shelter, water, clothing, and land for every African person. Presumably these are trivial rights not very consistent with the simple lives of uncivilised Africans, who ostensibly would rather have many well-written newspapers than food on their tables, or more homosexual freedom than clean water sources for the ever-perishing populations.
NERA is inspired by this Western brand of democracy, and we now have an opposition so determined to convince us that democracy in Zimbabwe starts and ends with what the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission does or does not do, never mind the democratisation of national resources and wealth. Many radio stations, newspapers, gays and lesbians, aid, Western scholarships, and such other niceties will be good enough.
There is a lot of emphasis on the rule of law doctrine in the OSI document. But such law must be law for the protection of the foreign investor and powerful corporations, together with their surrogates occupying political offices in Africa, not exactly for the benefit of the poverty-stricken African.
It is the kind of law that criminalises anti-imperialism resistance as hate politics, radicalism, or terrorism; while legitimising Western-executed genocides as “Responsibility to Protect interventions.”
Now we have come to the reality behind the rhetoric that said the murderous NATO bombings of Libya was an act of “protecting civilians.” The civilian Libyans are so much protected now that they are drowning daily swimming across the Mediterranean fleeing their once prosperous nation.
Of course OSI has leveraged so much on the doctrine of human rights to make noble its illicit intentions wrapped in the niceties of ACDEG. The young African has been made to wail for rights to do with everything on this planet, but his own destiny — the destiny of his own continent.
So you have young Zimbabweans preferring to fight for the right to carry out protest marches in demand for electoral reforms, but are silent over policy reforms at the United Nations Security Council, its undemocratic composition, and will not raise a voice against unjust international trade.
We can only truly rebut the superimposition of Western democracy by genuinely promoting our own context of democracy, genuinely growing our own economy, creating employment for our own people, and developing our breed of tolerance one for the other. We need our own Charter that will develop the African continent into a competitive entity in international affairs.
A Charter that promotes a democracy that will perpetuate Africa’s economic dependency on the West pushes for a corrupted democracy, and those ratifying such a Charter are simply trading birthright for aid. We cannot allow this to continue. We have to take a stand and say no to Western patronisation.
No amount of aid will ever create a democracy, just like no amount of civil liberties will ever create a democracy for a people deprived of their natural resources and source of livelihood. The much preached about secondary rights cannot in themselves create a democracy, not unless such rights are enjoyed by people in control of their own economic, social and political destiny.
We must get tired of this doctrine that says supremacy is the ancestry of the white race, and that poverty is Africa’s ancestry.
Democratic institutions are not and cannot be a creation of George Soros and his organisations. They have to be initiated in Africa by Africans, not those hired to work for Soros’ organisations, but those with a political calling to develop Africa into an economic rival of its former colonial masters.
Democratic elections as envisaged in the Charter ratified so far by 15 African countries are not about electing peoples’ governments, but about electing governments that are pliant to Western powers. We have to reject and abandon this colonial trajectory.
The democracy advocated by OSI is a canon that has already become a dead hand on creativity and initiative, relegating our people to peddling the ideas of Western funders and other Western charlatans brought to our continent via the noble route of philanthropy, like George Soros himself.
The Western- initiated democratisation process does not allow African creativity, innovation, fresh thinking, independent thought, or a critical mind.
Some of those who fought and brought independence to Zimbabwe have in their own way corrupted democracy, just like the imperialists have done, only differently. There has to be oxygen in any culture, not just dust-laden stale air. Breathing is present-continuous and not past. There is no logic whatsoever in the reasoning that says the past cannot be consistent with what is both new and good.
A liberation history adulterated to create entitlement for those with past achievements is a corrupted history, and as such its product is corrupt by extrapolation. We have to protect the dignity of our own history by ensuring that power mongers do not abuse the same history for their own personal benefits.
Those who kill initiative and creativity within the liberation movement in order to thwart political competition from the young generation must be reminded that whenever canons lie too heavily across the path of endeavour, it is always the canon that faces the real danger of being dynamited wholesale out of the way, sometimes to general loss.
This writer has engaged both the bitter and deprived youth denied the opportunity for creativity, initiative, innovation and fresh thinking; and also the overconfident and power-blinded veteran politician, obliviously misguided by an overrated glamour of past heroics in the revolution.
There is nothing revolutionary or educative about stale conformity to the past, nor anything inimical to celebration of the best of the past while facing the worst of the future.
Patriotism is an important aspect of any revolution, but patriotism is not a mere addiction to the past.
But the young cannot be allowed to deride the nobility of history either, to deride our freedom fighters, to denounce our liberation legacy, to demean our esteemed war veterans. Democracy emanates from a people’s history, not from lack of it.
A revolution must not fell its own cadres. That is the cry of the young revolutionaries who today stand as the only hope to save Africa from the corrupted democracy as promoted by Western powers today, and sadly by the outrageous shortcomings of some of our own political leaders across the continent.
Africa we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.