By Fidel Amakye Owusu

The winner-take-all politics that needs to stop in Africa.

1. Before the independence of many African countries, there were some domestic politics of diverse ideological persuasions.

2. Both the left and right were fairly active in many of these pre-independence political activities. Nonetheless, these ideological differences were overshadowed by ethnic and regional politics.

3. In Nigeria, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and many other territories, these regional and ethnic differences will define politics and influence political instability from the 1960s to the 80s. In the case of the DRC, this is still playing out negatively.

4. The over-ethnicization of politics and other forms of self-serving interests have mostly meant that politics is seen as a zero-sum game and treated as such.

5. And so what?

6. After an attempted coup in Sierra Leone, the former president of the country, Bai Koroma has been invited for questioning. It is alleged that some of his guards were involved in the attacks that took place almost a fortnight ago. In the DRC, some opposition elements are resorting to dangerous identity politics in the impending elections.

7. Even Cote d’Ivoire (which appears to be stable in recent years), the opposition boycotted the last general elections with serious long-term ramifications. Tunisia is not any different.

8. What is going wrong?

9. While politics the world over have some regionalism, ethnic colouration and factionalism, in many systems these have been mitigated by consensus building and t institutionalism. This often leads to inclusiveness and limited executive powers in these systems—positive.

10. In Africa, the opposite is often the case. Personalization of power and zero-sum politics produce visceral and acrimonious power dynamics that enable instability. Individual African leaders in Africa are systemically made overwhelmingly powerful. Their powers undermine domestic institutions.

11. Often a change of government affects how every institution is run. Some institutional heads are removed without due process or with unsubstantiated tags. For many in the opposition, the only way to feel a part of the system would be to sabotage it.

12. For a former president of Sierra Leone to be invited by the security agencies for questioning after a failed coup speaks of distrust in the country’s body politics. After the last elections and before, the opposition has been on a collision course with the government.

13. In Tunisia, what appears to be the most intense form of power grab after the Jasmine Revolution is happening. This could radicalize the opposition.

14. Way forward?

15. The continent needs consensus and institution builders who a committed to harnessing diverse opinions and talents for nation-building and collective development. This should be devoid of the pursuit of parochial interests.

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

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