'Mugabe should learn from Goodluck'

HARARE - The peaceful relinquishing of power by out-going Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan last week to election winner, Muhammadu Buhari, has many lessons for the ruling Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe, analysts say.

Jonathan had earlier cleared the air on alleged plans to prolong his tenure, saying if the result of the March 28 presidential election did not favour him, he would hand over to whoever wins.

Jonathan, in a live media chat apparently organised to douse the tension generated by the postponement of the general elections, spoke of among other things, the alleged plot to sack the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, insurgency and corruption.

Before and after the polls were shifted from February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11, there were rumours that Jonathan and the Peoples’ Democratic Party were nursing a sinister plot not to hand over power.

But Nigerians and the world were nervous because after Buhari lost to Jonathan in 2011, more than 1 000 people died and some 65 000 were forced from their homes in northern riots, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

But Jonathan kept his word and in an unprecedented step, he phoned Buhari to concede defeat and issued a statement urging his supporters to accept the result, a signal of deepening democracy in Africa’s most populous nation that few had expected.

In Zimbabwe, succession to leadership is typically fraught with wrangles and acrimony as it is in several other regional countries that one wonders whether transitions are the Achilles heel of African democracy. 

Political analyst Macdonald Lewanika says there are several lessons for Mugabe from Nigeria.

“The first is that of respect for the people’s will. Elected leaders must respect the sovereign will of the people when the people call time on them. This also speaks to the irreversibility of their choices by incumbents.

“The second lesson is that there is life after politics, Goodluck Jonathan and others have time and time again shown that State house is not a retirement home. It is a work station which one occupies and should be able to move away from.

“The presidency here in Zimbabwe is setting a very bad precedence where one occupies the station and is only removed through death.”

Lewanika says the third lesson is about insulation of the choices made by the people. “It doesn’t matter if they choose your mortal enemy or someone you have consistently run against and beat — their choice must be insulated through acceptance of that choice and agreeing to hand over the instruments of power, which is tied to the first.

“The smooth handover of power in Nigeria teaches Mugabe and all of us lessons on how to strengthen the chain of democratic choice in Africa.”

Legislator Jessie Fungayi Majome says Zanu PF and Mugabe need to learn the gracious humility of accepting defeat, and not hold the people of Zimbabwe perpetually to ransom like they did in 2008 and have been consolidating ever since.

“They need to learn that there is life after defeat and office, and that there is honour in putting the people’s will first, like Buhari so heroically did.

“Zimbabwe and Africa are bigger than any individual or political party no matter how charismatic or revolutionary they are.

“They need to learn to let go and let people freely choose, in a truly free and fair election who they want to lead them, and respect that choice.”

Political activist Tabani Moyo believes Nigeria has shown to the world that Africa is taking a new narrative, which is aimed at placing the continent on global political and economic competition.

“The leadership shown by both the winning and losing candidates should become the benchmark of 21st Century polity. In a nutshell, it sends a soft ‘vote of no confidence’ message to the chairperson of the African Union (AU)’s rather self-centred approach.

“The ruling party has been employing gruesome methods to maintain its continued stay in power. But Nigeria held its elections under very difficult conditions and tightly contested yet it refused the temptation to opt the route of vengeance polity and selfish approaches to politics, which ignores the supremacy of majority rule and respect of people’s democratic choices.

“It is therefore an unpaid for lecture on the AU chairperson that it is possible to be succeeded and allow the country to chat a new trajectory.

“It is also a lesson to the fragmented opposition political formations that there is merit in riding on the issue of national importance and focusing of national leadership than ego politics,” says Moyo.

He adds that the message from Nigeria therefore is that the country’s interests are sacred compared to personal aggrandisement.

Comments (2)

BIG UP GOODLUCK JONSO you sir are a true african HERO

Harare - 10 April 2015

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