By Celestine Kujabi
Multi-party politics, one of the most important requirements and the cream for genuine democracy, is one of the main causes of political, social and economic instability and slowdown in almost all African states since independence. The reasons to such problems may be attributed to ignorance, greed, individualism and selfishness. Most of the independent states of Africa have experienced political, social and economic conflicts and problems due to the ignorance of the masses of the African society, who understand little or nothing of multiparty politics and its discipline. The unrests and wars ravaging the African continent are at most, caused by misconceptions of multi-party politics.
These political misfortunes seriously undermine the acceptable democratic values and virtues and have been the instrument of opportunist division of the masses of African peoples and societies. Party politics, in Africa, has always been the tool used by a few powerful, selfish and opportunist bureaucrats, aristocrats or anarchist, to sway the masses from National interests to their selfish and opportunists interest, compromising the discipline of common good and interest. Multi-party politics which was supposed to offer the masses with the quality of objectivity has become the tool for political dominance, subjection, segregation and discrimination. This is and has never been the values and virtues of a real democratic society. Embracing democracy is conforming to its values and virtues.
Families, homes, tribes, communities and countries, have been torn apart in the interest of party politics. Party politics have turned democrats to dictators and angels into devils. Party politics, has been used to empower dictators; it has undermined genuine representation and has been the cause of the slowdown in the development of most African States. Africa and Africans, soon after independence, internalized democratic ideals without internalizing democratic discipline. African governments and Heads of government, on independence, sooner enforced Eurocentric Laws, rules and lifestyle, contradicting our local values, without educating the masses of the Eurocentric values and discipline. Africa and the African masses were caught up between ideological conflicts of interests. Culture, Religion and Politics became the conflicting ideals or ideologies within the African mind set. Catching up with the lifestyle of the Prophets, our cultures and that of Political civilization became impossible because of the conflicting interests of these ideologies. So Africa and its masses has always been caught up in and ideological puzzle and ignorance.
These conflicts, ignorance and puzzles have been the advantage of most African politicians, who, justified by multi-party democracy, manipulate power not because they want to serve the interest of the people, but caught up in a frenzy of greed, selfishness and opportunism. Not only are the masses caught up in a trap of ideological misconceptions of multi-party politics, but are deprived of critical and objective choices and genuine representation. These factors always resulted to poor governance and the abuse of democratic values and virtues thus undermining its discipline. The principle of multi-party politics is to offer the people the quality of objectivity, reason and tolerance, but not the quality of division, segregation and hate.
Worsened by the diversity of African ethnicity, multi-party politics in Africa is at most a pretext of our tribal or religious sentiments and in most cases the masses are most driven by these emotions which have nothing to do with the values, virtues and discipline of democracy. Tribalism, political misconception and religious fundamentalism have been the worst enemies of any meaningful democratic progress and so have no place in any progressive society. Objectivity, tolerance and discipline are very important qualities of a genuine democratic society. One cannot advocate or call for democracy without discipline. Democracy can only apply if one’s freedom of expression does not encroach into another’s right to worship, culture or tradition. Politics came purposely to govern people irrespective of their individual differences, origin and diversity. This is what initiated the thought and ideology of democracy widely spoken in Africa but rarely understood. We need to understand that democracy can never survive anywhere there is a single tribe or belief. A society that advocates for democratic ideals and values must be ready to embrace objectivity, reason, tolerance and secularism otherwise the realization of democracy becomes a dream.
Multi-party politics, a necessity for good democratic practices, has over the years failed the peoples of Africa and has been the tool for dictators to ascend to power and has also condemned good leaders and deprived the peoples of good and genuine leadership. It has been the instrument of political manipulation and instability in Africa. It has robbed the peoples of Africa off their decent lives and their most basic and fundamental human rights as food, shelter and freedom of EXPRESSION. It is visible in Africa where peoples, communities or societies are deprived off their basic rights because of their political identity. Peoples and communities have been systematically suppressed, deprived and isolated because of their political choice. Little do we know that we violate others’ right to belong and right to association. These misconceptions of multi-party politics have over the years, seriously undermined and slowed down the progress and development of most African States and rendered its people or populations dependent and irresponsible and the continent chaotic, insecure and unstable. Africa’s political and socio-economic development is dependent of the masses’ understanding of the discipline of democracy and the objectives and principles of multi-party politics in a democratically orientated society.
The African elite, political scientists and activists, educators and local authorities or traditional rulers are challenged and obligated to ensure an African society free from the shackles of political ignorance and darkness. With all its academicians and its estimated wealth, Africa and Africans needed to be more politically aware and economically stable as Africa is the food and production basket of the entire developed world. Africa and Africans need to wash away from tribalism, opportunism and selfishness to write and shape the development, progress and peace we all need but never want to realize because of our selfishness and opportunism. Our present generations may be cursed by posterity because our quest for human resource development and achievements might be superseded by our opportunist and selfish sentiments which have seriously undermined and retarded the development and progress of Africa and Africans. These attitudes must be wiped out of the African political mentality and mind set. The masses of the African society deserve the right to genuine representatives and representation; otherwise the realization of genuine democracy, development, progress in peace shall always become promises of false hopes and dreams.