“Weak Institutions Are To Blame”
Willibroad Dze-Ngwa, Associate Professor-Researcher, Global Issues, Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Yaounde I.
What explains the current political situation in Madagascar?
It is a problem of leadership, which is common across Africa. This is why former United States of America President Barack Obama said it was better to establish strong institutions instead of strong personalities. However, African leaders tend to insist on strong personalities instead of strong institutions.
Though Madagascar’s Supreme Court scrapped some portions of the disputed electoral laws, demonstrations have continued as the opposition insists that President Hery Rajaonarimampianina should resign because they have lost faith in him. Andry Rajaolina and Marc Ravalomana, two former leaders, have huge following, thus the continuous demonstrations. The opposition thinks that Hery Rajaonarimampianina can no longer be trusted. So, they want him out for modifying electoral laws a few months to presidential elections without consulting other stakeholders.
This is not the first time such a crisis is happening in Madagascar. In recent years, transitions have tended to be violent as they were effected through coups or popular uprisings.
This is a common phenomenon in some parts of Africa because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It was because of mounting pressure from the ruling ANC party and the public that former South African President, Jacob Zuma, finally resigned. Former Senegalese leader Abdoulaye Wade faced the same stiff resistance from his people when he tried to stay on after his constitutional terms had ended.
What can now be done to stabilise the Madagascar polity?
Strong and strict institutions should be put in place for the interest of majority of Madagascar people. It would be good if the same thing were replicated on the continent. No matter the type of democracy you practise, power should come from the masses through a social contract. Several mediation attempts by envoys from the United Nations, African Union and the Southern African Development Community, are yet to yield any concrete results. It is a wish. You cannot force any nation to do what it does not want. The opposition has been calling on President Rajaonarimampianina to resign, but it has not happened. The sovereignty of independent states must be respected. No nation, and even the UN, can impose a solution to the crisis on Madagascar people.
We realise that West Africa has been more successful in containing crises than any other region in Africa. What explains this disparity?
It is because of the presence of strong economic power. Nigeria has developed and is sustaining the Pan-African policy, added to the free movement of goods and services enjoyed amongst Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS member states. West Africa is the most successful of the regional blocs in Africa. The most recent case of conflict management was the mobilisation that obliged Yayah Jammeh of The Gambia to give up power. ECOWAS has successfully intervened to resolve crises in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso, etc. The bloc has decided to unite in order to avoid destabilising the region. On the other hand, Central Africa, East Africa and the rest of the continent are still limping in terms of regional integration and crisis prevention and management.
How do you see Madagascar 20 years from today?
After the current crisis, Madagascar can become one of the greatest African nations. Anything is possible. No one foresaw that Rwanda will become one of the most attractive countries in Africa, so technologically advanced just 24 years after genocide. Today, everybody wants to visit Rwanda, but this was not the case some years back. It is difficult to speculate what Madagascar will become in 20 years because it depends on who comes to power at a particular period in time. Madagascar will certainly come out of the current crisis stronger as no situation is permanent.
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