ELECTIONEERING

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Election is a process of legitimizing a person’s/persons’/entities’ position in a given setup. At times it is done democratically, i.e., by majority vote of concerned/delegated individuals in a particular affair. National political electioneering is an aspect of this process that involves all eligible voters of a country, with the objective of electing national office holders. To be sure, not all office holders can be classified as leaders. In principle, the whole idea of national electioneering is to elect individuals that will promote the interests of the large majority of the populous/voters. In an electoral system of ‘winners take all’, even garnering 49.9% of the popular vote, can hardly land the big time loser an opening in national administration. The implied assumption behind this particular system is; winners (as national office holders) would also be forced to look after the interests of the defeated electorate, as this segment of the general public still constitute a good portion of the population and would also remain probably active in the coming election!

In Africa we have a version of electioneering, which seems to harbor trouble for the continent’s collective destiny. This is a system whereby an entity/party is specifically set up to serve as an election machinery to land desired individuals in higher offices. For example taking over state power for the exclusive purpose of accumulation to benefit the parochially and criminally inclined candidates/electorates is one such abomination. These parties (usually ethnically affiliated) form continuously shifting alliances with each other so that they are assured (in one form or another) coveted/lucrative offices. Examining previous performances of such parties on the African scene, one is inclined to conclude the main objective of these entities, (candidates/electorates), by and large is not to tackle the immense national challenges of all rounded progress, but is rather to fatten the bellies and pockets of the collaborative goons. Once the election process is over, it is usually clientelism, nepotism etc., that take over and the national agenda is put on the backburner until the next election cycle begins in earnest. Elected official(s) are expected to reward those foot soldiers involved in the twisted electioneering campaign abundantly, again at the expense of national interest! Depressingly, this seems to be the election format (behind the façade) that is being applied in many of the once promising countries of Africa. Ethnically motivated/tainted elections in many African countries (Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, etc.,) are now the norm and in some of these places the process has been refined to an art form. (See the articles on page 2 and 50, 51)
In principle, the system devised by EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front) seems desirous of addressing the above problematic at its root. It starts by out rightly recognizing the existential issue, which is; the country is composed of various nations/nationalities. EPRDF’s approach is to try to‘hold the bull by the horn’ {as its former paramount leader (Meles Zenawi) used to say it} and work out the challenges based on this reality. The motto seems to be; empower the diverse ethnic groupings (economically, politically, culturally, etc.,) and guide their beast (human mass) by continuously upholding more elevated values (rational/ethical principles) other than the primordial ones (ethnically motivated.) It also assumed political leaders will lead the whole endeavor by example. Here we recognize EPRDF as a national movement composed of ethnically based affiliates. For various reasons, implementing EPRDF’s worthy experiment has so far proved not so easy. So long as EPRDF remains in power it might manage to temper the thriving degeneracy (towards ethnically based national political governance), but if it loses power, then we don’t know if the current formula can still work; only time will tell!
It is indeed upsetting to notice; a country, which has undergone a wrenching radical revolution to address age-old chronic ills, is now on the verge of succumbing to the petty malaise that afflict/affect any old country. On this, EPRDF has a lot to answer for! For example, why should a nation stooped in egalitarian ethos, (dignity, equality, etc.,) compliment of recent legacy, fall for the reign of political/economic/cultural gangsterism orchestrated (mostly) by none other than the very officials of this revolutionary organ? Unfortunately but consequently, the following rationale is now well established. ‘Accumulation based on one’s proximity to identity politics is a sure way to the ‘promised land’—riches & power!’For a party/front that calls itself revolutionary, in a country that has gone through a whole lot, to be entangled in such decadence is an embarrassment of not-so-little proportions. Moreover, the situation has also given rise to justifiable resentments already audible from the kosher/levelheaded political public. Like all political parties during electioneering season, EPRDFcontinues to promise a far-reachingreform program to address the legitimate grievances of the populous, pointedly directed against corruption, (government procurement, land/credit allocation, etc.,) injustice and nepotism!
Irrespective of the shortcomings of EPRDF schema in their implementations, we still believe they envelope a kernel of values that should not be undermined! Africa’s development, of necessity, must tackle the inherent issues that obtain on the ground with purposeful honesty. And on this front, EPRDF outshines the others! Pan Africanists should incessantly remind themselves; Africa’s all rounded progress cannot come about by continuously relying on the ‘economy of affection’, as the Africanist practitioner of development sternly warned us decades ago. To this day his words still ring true: “There is no short cut to progress.” Goran Hyden. Good Day!