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The new trend

Jan 25, 2012, 10:51 AM

A wind of change, as they say, has been blowing across Africa since last year. Gone are the days when African leaders see themselves as life presidents.

It is no longer fashionable to hold onto power forever on the continent. When Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Maummar Gaddafi of Libya and Ben Ali of Tunisia wanted to stay in power, even though their people demanded that they step down, they were all humiliated.

Some of these recent developments underscore the new realization that nobody has a monopoly of power; it is a public trust that one is entrusted with for a specified period of time, before somebody else takes it up.

This new trend has been going on for sometime now. Rupiah Banda of Zambia respected the wishes of the Zambian people when they decided that they preferred current President Michael Sata.

Rawlings of Ghana and Ould Vall of Mauritania also did the rightful thing, by bowing out when the ovation was loudest.

In a short time from now, the people of Senegal will be going to the polls to elect a new president. And in defying with the prevailing public morality in Senegal, incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade has given his word that he is fit enough to seek another term of office.

Wade’s critics have branded his decision, at 85, to stand for a third term as a flagrant breach of constitutional rules limiting him to two mandates.

Bit by bit, African leaders are beginning to see the folly of hanging on to power forever. Before long, Africa will be rid of all forms of dictatorship - democratic or monarchical.

And it is hoped that this new understanding of power will translate into an open society, where transparency, accountability and good governance will be the mores of public life.

Africa could be rich and hold its own against the so-called G-8 if its leaders collectively are transparent in the use of power, especially in terms of resource use and allocation.

This continent deserves a better deal, but such can only be if our leaders lead justly within the framework of an open society.

And, from all indications, we are already heading in that direction!

“In a democracy, the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.”