The Year in Review, 2017 series: Focus on politics
By Richard Mammah
In the year 2017, Africa began to stir again.
In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo came into power. As the year moved on, he was to grow the nation’s GDP quarter on quarter to peak at 9.4 per cent in the third quarter. Coming from the days of ‘Dumsor’ (power outages) at the closing phase of the John Mahama administration, this is indeed something to cheer.
In The Gambia, long-standing dictator, Yaya Jammeh, was not only out-voted in favour of his ‘no-chance-in-the-books’ contender, Adama Barrow; African and global consensus ensured that the dictator’s efforts to scuttle this popular mandate were aborted. Jammeh is in exile in Equatorial Guinea now.
In Angola, the dos Santos dictatorship very gratituously left open the door for a smooth succession and the emergent President, Joao Lourenco has indeed been a surprise: he is steadily rebuilding the nation even at the expense of the dos Santos cabal.
And to close the year were three most significant activities. the aged President-for-life, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was eased off, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma saw his suave arrangement to get his former wife replace him as party leader and ultimately President, scuttled by an eclectic coalition that was led by Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa and Liberia looks like it is on the way to electing 51-year old ex-football international, George Weah as its new President.
At the other end of the spectrum are the deficits and unfinished matters. In Togo for example, protests continue to bring the 50 year old military and civilian dictatorship of the Gnassingbe family to a close. In Cameroon, the octogenarian President Paul Biya who has been in power for three decades and counting, and who has faced blistering condemnation from the Anglophone belt of the country over his divisive politics, is set to run and win again in polls to be conducted next year. Like Cameroon, Egypt will also have elections that General al-Sisi is already scheduled to win even as Zimbabwe’s half-finished democratic uprising is also likely going to see the second phase of a military/ZANU-PF rally to ensure that not much would really change.
Clearly, electoral democracy as structured now does not have all of the answers to aid the advancement of the full possibilities of the continent’s development and the lifting of the material and social conditions of its peoples. But at the moment, it is looking like a basic beginning that those who want to help, may wisely begin with.
May better days come for Africa in 2018.
President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana