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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Letters: Elections are not the answer in Africa, if they are going to be manipulated

Dear Editor,

I read a recent article titled “Countering reactionary, authoritarian politics in Africa” and it provides a very sobering reflection of our politics in Africa, highlighting and enumerating several malpractices and shameless political chicanery, which many African leaders engage in very often.

The article gave examples of how the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe were manipulated and stolen – and how, in Mozambique and Uganda, the same practice is allowed to continue and is accepted by the international community through proverbial sanitisation. This is the culture in Africa and it is unfortunate.

While I can’t agree more with the writer’s submissions, I also think there is a need for us to focus on the nature of the opposition we now have in African politics.

My feeling is that the misgivings and political behaviour we are subjected to by African leaders subsist because we allow it. I wish to submit that we need an opposition which is premised on the understanding and conviction that these countries are ours too.

I believe that it is not natural for governments to behave ethically and, if left unchecked without any serious pressure from citizens, any government or leadership, for that matter, will abuse and manipulate systems for selfish gain, including power retention and other self-aggrandisement intentions.

While strong institutions are often accredited with sustaining democratic culture in mature democracies, I also think that the sense of citizenship is stronger in those countries. Citizens, even before they organise into political parties and other groupings are strong on governance principles and are prepared to stand up and challenge any malpractice. They have strong critical consciousness.

The example of the United States, where former president Donald Trump wanted to challenge and manipulate people’s’ wills, comes to mind.

The young people often have no interest in such serious life-changing political engagements. They lack critical consciousness of wanting to challenge and demand political best practice and good governance and democracy. They often choose to busy themselves with other peripheral stuff, such as soccer and other trivia on social media.

My view is that African opposition must be strengthened, and be strategic in challenging the current dictators we have in Africa. It cannot be business as usual when we are dealing with extraordinary situations.

To want to resort to elections, which we all agree cannot be a preferred and effective way of dealing with dictatorship, is in my view self-defeating.

We cannot choose to apply democratic approaches in dealing with undemocratic dictators, whom we know well will manipulate the electoral systems.

Mamunderry Ceesay

Dippa Kunda

Serekunda

Re: 3 Years Jotna founder tells

Diaspora Gambians to boycott election

Dear Editor

According to your report, Musa Koteh better known as ‘King Sport’ the founder of the proscribed pressure group ‘3 Years Jotna’, has urged Gambians living abroad to stay clear of the December presidential election, claiming their votes will be open to manipulation and retain Barrow in power.

He’s talking about boycotting elections but how can they boycott an election when the IEC has just said the government doesn’t have the funds to register Gambians in the diaspora? This clearly means there will be no voting for diasporan Gambians. Mr Koteh must be an ignoramus to make such a statement. Voting is a civic right. Mr Koteh is no different from the government of President Barrow. They are all trying to deprive Gambians in the diaspora their civic rights.

Alex-amine Jarju

Dear Editor,

I am a Gambian living in the diaspora. Musa Koteh certainly was not speaking on my behalf when he made his statement to The Standard newspaper. We did not sit with him or meet him to serve as a mouthpiece for the diaspora. He does not represent all Gambians in the diaspora. Let him address and speak on behalf of his criminal group. Only useless people will listen to this man. Musa Koteh should go and help the Operation 3 Years Jotna chairman, Abdou Njie, feed his family first before disturbing us with useless talk.

Yahya Gassamma

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