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Powerful parties, weak people – Owei Lakemfa

We can hold politicians accountable outside their manifestoes, By Owei Lakemfa

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, and its Nigerian counterpart, the All Progressive Congress (APC) are each a ‘Congress’. However, while the ANC is a political party, which during the struggle against apartheid became a popular movement, the APC claims what it is not, a political party. The fact that a butterfly has wings and can fly does not make it a bird.

South Africa’s founding democratic president, Nelson Mandela, was as big as a politician can come; his image was great, not only about his country and Africa, but about the entire universe. However, it was contained within the ANC to the extent that when he was released, the position that the party had for him was vice president under the less charismatic and much less known Oliver Tambo. But Tambo was quite ill, and the party, in his wisdom, appointed the secretary general, Alfred Nzo, the interim president. This was more because Mandela had been in prison for twenty-seven years and the party was not sure if, at that time, he was sufficiently aware of the ANC’s principles and policies to lead it. Mandela himself was disciplined enough to understand that, despite his overwhelming influence in the country and around the world, he was no bigger than the party. In his autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, he wrote: “My first responsibility (after being released) was to inform the leadership of the ANC.”

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Mandela had all the characteristics of a messiah but what the ANC saw was a man; his painting that had survived a long and hard imprisonment for the fight and that had returned to join him. Outside the party, he repeatedly told people that he was not a messiah. In contrast, even APC President John Odigie-Oyegun wants Nigerians to accept, even if they did not believe it, that President Muhammadu Buhari is a messiah. Just six days ago, he told the Nigerians: “I want to tell you that this nation, God sent a messiah, God sent President Buhari to heal the wounds of this nation.” As for party discipline, compared to the ANC It practically does not exist. The APC is not a body that can exercise power and control over its members, whether poor or rich, elected or non-elected. The supremacy of the party is, of course, nonexistent, since first there must be a political party, before it can assume and assert its supremacy. So, although the APC in 201

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5 had its official candidates for the presidency of the Senate and the vice president, speaker and vice president of the House, it was the unofficial candidates opposed to the party leadership who swept the posts, and remain in power until the date.ANC in which the leader of the party leads, in the APC, the leader of the party grants leadership, at least as much to the president as to the national leader. But this is not peculiar to the party; all the political parties registered in Nigeria that I know are like the APC, gadgets and improvised political platforms for the elections. The fundamental difference between the ANC and the Nigerian political parties is that while the former was formed with the people, the latter is formed for the people; while members of the ANC own the party by paying membership dues and financing the party, almost all parties registered in Nigeria, including the APC and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), pay their members even to attend basic functions of the party, while its national conventions are avenged so that the “members” or “delegates” get rich, obtain abundant harvests where they have not sown. So unlike South Africa, multiparty democracy in Nigeria is a mere nomenclature sanctified by a dependent electoral body that claims to be independent, driven by underage voters, some less than half the official electoral age, dignified by the main structures Policies with a permanent faith in manipulating elections, and certified as having substantially complied with the electoral law & # 39; by observers funded by partisan donors, and blessed by the & # 39; international community.

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Despite its good pedigree and guidance, the ANC is showing worrying signs that both can be a good and a bad example of party supremacy. Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa was sworn in as the fifth president of South Africa on February 15. But of the five presidents, Nelson Mandela is the only one with the mandate of the people to have completed his mandate and handed over to a successor chosen by the electorate. When his successor, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki lost the presidency of the ANC to his second, Jacob Zuma, the party, exercising its supremacy, could not wait to expel him. With nine months to complete his second term, the ANC forced Mbeki to resign on September 20, 2008. In addition to losing the internal elections of ANC and being considered something dictatorial and distant, Mbeki had no known scandals, and internationally, he had a good image. These rumors led to a split with the main members of the ANC such as the former defense minister, Mosiuoa & # 39; Terror & # 39; Lekota, the former deputy defense minister, Mluleki George and the former prime minister of Gauteng province, Mbhazima Samuel Shilowa, breaking to found the People’s Congress (COPE).

Another powerful party is the African National Union of Zimbabwe (ZANU-PF) in neighboring Zimbabwe. Exercising party supremacy, ZAPU-PF has dominated the political landscape of the country since 1980 and decides who is running for what office and who does not. In December 2014, he dismissed Vice President Joice Mujuru.

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The man who completed Mbeki’s term was Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe, whom the parliament chose for 269 of the 351 votes cast. The fourth president was Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma. His team lost the ANC elections of December 2017 to the then vice president of Ramaphosa. For a man harassed by scandals, it was not long before the ANC, exercising its supremacy, demanded and assured Zuma’s resignation. With such a culture, it is not unlikely that the ANC could in the future force Ramaphosa to leave his position.

Another powerful party is the Zimbabwe African National Union of Zimbabwe (ZANU-PF) in neighboring Zimbabwe. Exercising party supremacy, ZAPU-PF has dominated the political landscape of the country since 1980 and decides who is running for what office and who does not. In December 2014, he dismissed Vice President Joice Mujuru. The party elected President Robert Mugabe as its presidential candidate in the elections scheduled for 2018 and on November 6, 2017 it fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. All these seemed resolved issues. However, the army, nine days later, organized a coup that put Mugabe under house arrest and forced some party leaders to flee. He forced Mugabe to resign and the party reconvened to appoint Mnangagwa as president. Then he continued in his old tradition. This is to the extent that when on Wednesday, February 22, former President Mugabe turned 94, the day was declared a public holiday to honor him, recognize and propagate his immense contributions to the country and the black race.

We need political parties in Africa that can assert themselves and impose the supremacy of the party over each member, but they should not be so powerful as to weaken the people. As the ANC slogan says: “People must govern!”

Owei Lakemfa, former secretary general of African workers is a human rights activist, journalist and author.

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