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Will Mugabe heed Annan’s free and frank advice?

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FORMER United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan could not have said it any better: Africa’s problems stem from a leadership that wants to create fiefdoms, a leadership that does not know when to call time on their stay in power.

FORMER United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan could not have said it any better: Africa’s problems stem from a leadership that wants to create fiefdoms, a leadership that does not know when to call time on their stay in power.

NewsDay Comment

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Now the solution, like he says, lies squarely on Africans, “leave when your time is up and please do not try to tinker with Constitutions for an extra term”.

The irony of it, however, is that his message, though noble, will fall on deaf ears. Annan risks being branded all sorts of names including that he is an agent of Western regime change machinations. In the coming days, so-called political analysts are likely to be given acres of space in State publications and radio stations to scream on top of their voices that Annan is on some capitalist’s payroll or some organisation including “The Elders”.

But the problem will not go away and it is incumbent upon people with international sway, people of Annan’s calibre who have an international audience across Africa and beyond, to continue saying this ad nauseaum.

They must never tire. Is it not an indictment on a massive 13-odd million souls that Zimbabwe has had one leader since majority rule 36 years ago? We still consider ourselves a constitutional democracy “because Mugabe is elected after every five years”.

Of course, he has been “elected” — or is it “selected”? — but he has made sure that the environment is such that Zimbabweans are left with one choice.

Who would vote for anyone other than Mugabe in an environment poisoned by a military that takes over national television to announce they will not salute anyone without liberation war credentials?

Mugabe is not alone in the league of overstaying leaders. He has the likes of Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza and, of course, Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos coming after him.

In Burundi with grim consequences, genocide is underway and who can stop it? Like in Zimbabwe, Kagame has learnt the art of forced disappearances and outright executions of those opposed to his rule.

African citizens must begin to call their leaders to order. Educated societies such as Zimbabwe should stand up and claim their rights, claim their space and stop this nonsense. We must put a stop to those pseudo-monarchies that masquerade as elected kleptocracies.

Eminent Africans like Annan must be applauded for their lone voices in calling upon Africa to accept global standards not only when it suits them, but in every sphere of life including leadership change.