Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Guinea: African leaders are indeed mortal

Lead to the death

The death of Lansana Conté [1] the Dictator of Guinea in West Africa on the 22nd of December 2008 brings to close another chapter in the history of leadership in Africa where eternal incumbency thrives, as a country rich in resources fails to realise any of its potential and after decades of leadership the people remain poor, destitute, deprived and mendicant.

It is assumed President Conté died at 74 because there are no records of birth that could determine when he was born except the probable year of 1934 and we now know that know that he died after a long illness, a diabetic and a chain smoker [2].

What this proves for all concerned is that African leaders can be vulnerable and succumb to disease if they are vulnerable by reason of the power they wield beyond which we learn in stark light that they can be mortal – unfortunately, the President of Zambia succumbed earlier this year, he being of the new breed of democratically minded and honest brokers of good governance in Africa.

Aren’t there capable others?

General Conté came to power in April 1984 and he took over in a bloodless coup just soon after the President Ahmed Sékou Touré [3] died in office. In short, Guinea [4] after 50 years of independence with an estimated population of 10 million has only be able to produce two credible leaders who have presided over a country that ranks as one of the least developed countries in the world.

The last paragraph was not written in the right Contéxt because there surely would have been people with talents, ideas, ability, vision and purpose to lead Guinea and make it realise some of its potential.

However, in Africa, we have the leadership of potentates who dabble with a pseudo-democratic function that is rigged to entrenched their positions rather than offer the people real choices to choose good leaders who can address long-term development issues rather than short-term needs through populism and repression.

The idea that those in power have that they and they only can offer leadership is megalomania at its extreme, it is interesting to see that President Conté ruled for 24 years and ably ran through 8 Prime Ministers; one could be forgiven for thinking the government in Guinea was a monarchy.

Long rule and nothing to show for it

The real failure of leadership is exemplified in the fact that 2 leaders after 50 years of ruling Guinea have probably not progressed the country any further than its feudal origins.

This should be contrasted with the kind of democracy in the United States that limits the terms of their presidents to a maximum of 8 years after which they move on and do other things because the people and the democracy believes that there can be others to do the job, whether the president ends up doing a better job is a matter of conjecture or history.

African leaders seem to be unable to move on; I would Conténd that if their fear is about securing their legacy, then if what they had put in place had the enduring quality of benefiting the people, there should be no reason for successors to dismantle things that work, rather they should be persuaded to retain and improve on that concept.

But no, they should wield power, be king or kingmakers, meddle with every activity and seek to thumbprint everything so as to have their egos massaged to the point of severe abrasion.

No succession planning

The other failure of leadership is poor mentoring, organisations have means and ways of succession planning that allows for a few subordinates or equals to vie for leadership when the leader departs, African leaders seem to seriously politicise their office that it is almost impossible to find a successor without the system imploding.

What then happens is that the leader is kept on as a figurehead of derision and despotic provenance as the underlings fight amongst themselves to gain ascendancy to the distraction of the job of real governance.

It would appear leaders have no concept of planned retirement until they are permanently retire by the reason of death.

To that end, President Conté is a colossal failure and the apotheosis of what is wrong with leadership in Africa because hardly before the country has had the time to rejoice at his demise rather than mourn, the pseudo-civilian succession seems to have been overthrown by the military [5]. Even I expected that to happen, only not so soon.

A military coup in 2008 is as primitive as it can become, it is however the legacy of a failed tenure, an atrocious reign and utterly, utterly appalling government.

Sick leaders should be in hospital not in office

To add insult to injury, the temporary successor, Aboubacar Somparé, the President of the National Assembly said, “Conté hid his physical suffering for years in order to give happiness to Guinea [6].”

How much longer should we Africans have to suffer the indignity of being lead by incapacitated comatose vegetables clinging on to life, propped up by their courts of sycophants, who fear that they would lose their influence if the Dear Leader fails to keep pace with the life support machine?

Presently, we have a similar case in Nigeria where no one knows if President Yar'Adua is living flesh and blood or a remotely activated mummy [7] – the issue of the health of our leaders has to be of public record, especially in a democracy and when they do realise that they cannot for the fact that their illness is almost debilitating, it is only right to resign and allow another to assume the mantle of leadership.

History, would however repeat itself, again and again in Africa as we await the day that the requiem mass for the Grand Despot of Africa [8] to be said with the chorus of a million Amens.

It is nice to know that the leaders of Africa are mortal, if they will depart in dignity they shall truly depart never to return again eventually with all the finality that can be finally expected.

Sources

[1] Lansana Conté - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] BBC NEWS | Africa | Guinea's hardline president dies

[3] Ahmed Sékou Touré - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Guinea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] BBC NEWS | Africa | Military 'seizes power' in Guinea

[6] Guinea's dictator, Lansana Conté, dies - International Herald Tribune

[7] The Punch: Anxiety heightens over Yar’Adua’s health

[8] Robert Mugabe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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