FORMER United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has rapped African politics that nurture the “Big Man” system, which he says has created dictators in the mould of President Robert Mugabe.
Annan, a respected diplomat from Ghana, told the latest edition of the New African magazine that many dictatorships in Africa were as a result of politics that encouraged the cult of personality. His comments will debunk Zanu PF’s theory that Mugabe is considered a hero in Africa.
The 88-year-old leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since independence in 1980, also claims Western governments, who were not happy with his land reforms, gave him the “dictator tag”.
Annan said Africa’s biggest undoing was the habit of blaming the continent’s colonial past for the problems many nations face today. He said it was time Africa looked beyond the continent’s colonial past.
“The support for the Big Man system — Robert Mugabe an example — created a political culture that simply encourages autocrats and dictatorships,” Annan said.
“The struggle that led to the independence in many African nations, sometimes led to the creation of national movements, and not necessarily political parties.
“When independence was achieved in these countries, they often found themselves in one big group. This led to the party-regime where the leaders did not tolerate differences, and stay on.”
He said liberation parties seldom made good political parties in Africa’s fast-changing political landscape.
“The sort of qualities that make dynamic and revolutionary fighters, are not necessarily the same qualities you need to run a nation. This leads to difficulties,” the veteran diplomat added. “African governments are becoming more sensitive to democratic demands. “This is because civil society is putting pressure on the politicians to do the right thing.
“We are now at the stage where we are seeing the generational change of leaders, who are better educated and would know what they want from themselves, and their fellow citizens.”
Mugabe’s previous administrations have used State security institutions to crush dissent.
Opposition and civil activists are still routinely harassed even after the formation of the inclusive government four years ago as Zanu PF retained control of security ministries.