By Moses Kuria
Kenya: Service and Sacrifice’. That was Morgan Tsvangirai’s campaign slogan. The key word here is ‘sacrifice’. It is the hallmark of the misguided strategy that continues to inform the so-called African mavericks in their oft-fateful attempts to win elections.
It is premised on a fatally false sense of entitlement to power on the basis that Tsvangirai and his ilk of liberal amateurs have suffered and sacrificed for the sake of African people and their liberties and thus the pay cheque should come in the form of votes.
In so doing, the mavericks fail to put their finger on the African pulse. The 21st Century African has no time for empty sloganeering. They want real jobs and real food on the table. They do no mind the theatrics that comes with the topsy-turvy, ‘colour and pomp’ podium drama by the mavericks that is often mistaken for political strategy.
However when it comes to putting the mark on the ballot, they are gripped by a sudden consciousness of their objective interests-healthcare, education, jobs, prosperity and happiness.
These are the same aspirations voters in Europe, Americas or India convert into votes. When it comes to Africa, the mavericks expect them to eat boiled slogans, deep fried liberalism and roasted victimhood.
Tsvangirai joins an elite league of maverick super-strikers who are busy assembling the best ‘First-Eleven’ of African political fantasy football. To qualify you need to demonstrate that you have suffered and sacrificed in the past, that you have a cheering army of the so-called civil society idlers behind you and that you have a burning penchant to kowtow to the West. More important you need to score at least an A- in sloganeering and podium drama.
To be a fully paid up member of the club, you need to have scored a hat-trick of losses and in each of the three losses you must provide vivid evidence that you howled about how your votes were stolen, how the victors stuffed ballots in their strongholds and how the election was a sham, a fraud of monumental proportions.
To qualify as a captain of African political fantasy football, the maverick has to threaten the victor with a post-election revolution and call themselves ‘The People’s President’.
Contrast this with their competitors. Robert Mugabe, with all his 89 years often keeps his finger close to the Zimbabwe’s pulse. He gives land to those who had given up any hope of ever owning land.
The West manipulates hyper-inflation to bring Mugabe to his knees but the Zimbos are only happy to carry stacks of Zim dollars in a truck for their shopping as long as they have land and food on the table. The Chinese laugh all the way to the mines of the Monomotapa Kingdom, forging effective partnership and creating a win-win scenario with the host country.
It is never too late to learn. Tsvangirai and his mavericks can still do it. Michael ‘Cobra’ Sata of Zambia learnt the lesson, albeit belatedly. The former maverick is now the President of Zambia. Bring 51-year-old geologist Macky Sall of Senegal into the mix.
When Abdoulaye Wade tried to wade through the waters into a third presidential term, Macky knew there was something murky about the plot. But he did not resort to empty sloganeering.
Instead he ran on a platform of cancelling the fishing rights of the Western companies. The Senegalese gave him a chance. After winning in the run-off and dispatching 86 year old Wade to oblivion, he made good his promise, revoked the Western companies fishing rights and gave them to the Senegalese. Three months later, his party won 65 per cent of the seats in parliamentary elections.
The politics of the West are calibrated on a Left-Centre-Right continuum. The emerging politics in Africa are taking a trend of ‘Mavericks versus Realists’ divide. Unfortunately, the West and their lackeys are yet to receive the memo. The few who have grasped this changing face of African politics are laughing all the way to power. They include Yoweri Museveni, Macky Sall, Robert Mugabe, Paul Kagame and even Michael Sata.
Tsvangirai is the deputy captain of the Mavericks club. His captain is a fellow I would rather not name in this column in the interests of reconciliation and nation building in my motherland. They have a midfielder who goes by the name of Kiiza Besigye.
My advice to them is simple. You do not win elections by obfuscation or when your supporters call you ‘Baba’ but opt to play ‘Ajua’ on voting day.
The writer comments on public affairs and policy matters.