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02.03.2004 Feature Article

Power Sharing, The Real Grave And Gathering Danger

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...AND WHY THE THUGS MUST NOT BE TOLERATED

Leadership- W. C. H. Prentice defines leadership as “the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants.” He goes on to say that a great leader is one who is able to do this day in day out in a wide variety of circumstances. To elect political leaders in any democracy, there are laid down procedures. The primary purpose for these predetermined procedures, as with any game, is to ensure fairness and a level of discipline. Once these procedures are fairly followed, leaders are in a position to invoke the mandate of the people. One other key reason for these procedures is to legitimize the collective will of the electorate.

Unfortunately leadership is amoral. It is not necessarily about doing good or bad, as it is primarily about accomplishing results. This does not mean that a certain level of decency or decorum is not expected of a leader. Nor does it mean that the laws of the land are suspended. What it means is that, the leader has to make decisions based on rationale thinking and practical results. In the end, a lot of people will be offended or will not have their way, let alone wish.

Given the aforementioned, leaders, more often than not, find themselves in untenable situations. The art of running a country becomes close to impossible. Now, tack on the armed and irascible swashbuckling angry mob, which, with the propensity and wherewithal to deploy on a moments notice, are willing to visit untold hardship on their kith and kin. The puree that we end up with, is mayhem and vile political opportunism, designed to serve a few malcontents who skillfully adorned themselves in the flag of patriotism and freedom fighting. Are they really?

Leadership is not about making mistakes or being punished for such mistakes. It is not about sanitizing every move the leader makes. It is also not risk averse. A leader will never be successful if his or her every act is subject to the approval of a so-called 'opposition,' that does not have the residual mandate of the people. The situation in Haiti is very instructive on the latter point. Recently, Ivory Coast and Liberia also provided telling examples of how armed thugs can overthrow constitutional systems at will. God forbid that the leader in power has some negative baggage to go with the situation.

As much as I wanted the mulish Charles Taylor gone, I agonized over the circumvention of constitutional order in Liberia. The key issue here for me was the fact that, whether we like it or not, Charles Taylor, pilloried as he was, had the mandate of the people. These putative rebels did not have the mandate of the people. No matter how good a case they advance, they did not have any mandate whatsoever to act on behalf of the Liberian people. So therefore, besides the pitchforks, guns and knives, where do these flaky thugs derive their power? To endorse the flapdoodle that might is right and survival lies with the fittest, is to scramble for a one-way ticket to perdition.

Another Imperialist ploy? As I listened to the news on CNN (2/26/2004), I could not help but to get ticked off. The news anchorwoman, Judy Woodruff, in a phone interview, kept pressurizing president Aristide of Haiti on 'power sharing' and whether he will leave the country or not. This reminded me of the fragile peace in Ivory Coast and Liberia. Here is why I am angry! Hear me!! The West, especially the US, Britain, and France, are very quick to impose this bogus concept of “power Sharing” on weak and poor countries. Why share power with criminals? Are we regressing into the dark ages? To take up arms does not make you a freedom fighter or rebel with a cause. The most lethal freedom fighters and rebels did not use arms. As far as I am concerned, the snit should always be about ideas not might or brawn. The pen is still mightier than the sword. They seem to forget that if they had embarked on such dangerous forays, their democracies will not be what it is now. When it comes to third world countries, the west seem to lose all it democratic principles.

Here is the key question, will Americans accept the troubling panacea of power sharing, if a group of local grown terrorist should take up arms against the US government? Even if a/the legitimate opposition authors the insurrection, will they accept such anti democracy solution? Faced with the recent election snafu in Florida, Americans did not opt for “power sharing” but instead, a constitutional solution. Why did they not choose violence and subsequently power sharing? Will the Bush administration power share in a situation like what we have in Haiti? I dare the British and the French to answer the same question above. If these powers will not gleefully engage in or accept this pig-headed gravity-defying malarkey, why must we? To power share, in a bid to gain short-term peaceful solutions, is to lay the seed for long-term mayhem. It is one thing to ask people to lay down their tools but to promise them power and security is to endorse violence as a change mechanism. This, in my opinion, besides other attending factors, is why violence is so prevalent in poor and weak countries.

Just as I continue to type this piece, senator Kerry, the democratic presidential nominee, just announced in the presidential debate in California that, the Bush government is making it much easier for these so called rebels to remove Aristide. Instead of choosing democracy over vandalism, the Bush administration and the world twiddle their fingers as Haiti gradually broils in hell. There are even rumors that the Bush administration, like they tried to do in Venezuela, want Aristide removed because he is another Castro wannabe. It is evident that in almost every instant of armed rebellion, there are outside influences that surgically take advantage of palpable cracks in the fabric of national cohesion, to instigate trouble, foment hatred and promote primal animus aimed at advancing the goals and aspirations of the imperialist. It is interesting that anytime Bush falls behind in the polls, something major has to happen somewhere in the world.

Currently, most of the leaders we have in Africa are a group of imperialist agents, shrouded in the cloak of peacemaking; doggedly imposing wrong headed imperialist short-term band-aid solutions on the people of Africa. The latest victim of this deadly poison will or is going to be Haiti. Why must the weak and poor accept such lethal and moribund solutions to such troubling conflicts? In all honesty, we must accept our role in creating these intolerable conditions for ourselves. However, we cannot overlook the role of the west in fomenting these problems and then offering such idiotic solutions. Power sharing, is a wrong-headed solution that sends the wrong message worldwide. It encourages any band of flinty thugs to drum up charges and pick up arms. It is making it difficult for leaders to make politically difficult decisions in overly anal-retentive environments. If these thugs have genuine grievances, they should work for change through the electoral process. After all, is Aristide not up for elections in 2006? What really is the damned hurry? Even though I personally have little tolerance for dictatorships, I sincerely believe that the only hope for African countries is to find creative ways to solve problems. This will take deliberate effort from the entire country. In fact, to steal a page from Kucinich's book, we need to spend more time on peace than we do on violence. We need peace soldiers not violent slithering scofflaws.

Impact of power sharing

Undermining democracy: When any constitutional government power shares, it undermines democracy by subverting the mandate of the people and undermining the collective will. The helpless craven citizens end up with thugs and misfits running their lives without any mandate whatsoever. If the people bother to vote, only to realize that their vote does not mean a thing, why must they continue to believe in the democratic system, especially when the government is striving to actualize the mandate of the people? The choice is very clear here; do we want and deserve democracy or want a chaotic situation where people solve problems through guns? In the end, we should be disciplined enough to choose democracy, civility and dialogue over brutality, self-denigration and expedient politics. The thugs must be crushed at all cost!!

Some may argue that sometimes violence or a little bloodletting is inevitable. However, are they willing to die first? Which of their family members do they want to give up? If these rag tag so called freedom fighters have such a strong case, and the people have unwavering faith in them, why not march and demonstrate? Why not organize and win elections? Why not get international attention? I must agree that regional and international organizations have not done enough to help provide opportunities for some of these groups. However, change a government anyway you like but violence should and must not be part of the equation. The implications are dire and the record shows that we are not better for it. Violence should never be a first or last resort.

Discounting established institutions: Instead of putting faith in and helping to strengthen existing institutions, designed to help maintain democracy and restore discipline, the notion of power-sharing as a peace initiative, entices the violent rogues amongst us to race for their guns should their sensibilities be offended in our democratic experiment. This in turn, further erodes any credibility that these resource starve institutions might have. The opportunity to problem solve is turned into a golden chance directed at stroking bloodied egos and revitalizing dangerous war games. It seems to me that we just don't understand that, one of the key constants in life is conflict. If we ever do, problem solving might turn out to be a much better option vis-à-vis nation busting war games.

Reinforcement of violence: Power sharing as a peace initiative reinforces violence. It echoes the message that crime pays and the way to solve problems is to kill and maim. The last time a coup de tat occurred in Haiti, 5000 people were killed. This is a two hundred year old poverty ridden country with about 30 coup attempts to boot. For the sake of human lives, why can't these thugs wait till the next elections? Now, some are calling for Aristide to step down or share power with these criminals turned terrorist. The gospel truth is that, whatever behavior we reward is what we get more of. Therefore, if our solution to bad government or governmental mistakes is to allow thugs to wreak havoc and then give them political power as pacification to stop plundering, we are certainly asking others to employ the same violent mechanism to plug the dike.

Promoting brain drain: One of the least discussed lethal impacts of violence is “brain drain.” Power sharing as a conflict resolution mechanism promotes and incites violence. It is not far-fetched therefore, to say that power sharing has a correlation to the exodus that we all know about. When these thugs take up guns, people naturally leave in droves to the west. At least they scat for a much safer highland. Those fleeing are not the uneducated or less skilled. They are normally the very well schooled and sometimes even rich people who don't have the stomach for violence and encroachment on their easy way of life. To keep our people home means that we must avoid violence and other insurrections that destabilizes the nation. The impact of brain drain on development is a story that ought to be talked in bawdry language.

The way forward-

1) Strengthen the defense mechanism of the country: This means that the army and police must be ready to crush any anti constitutional activities. In the case of Haiti, the absence of a viable police force and the presence of an ill-equipped army did not help quell the upheaval. It is very import to have a police and military brainwashed with the doctrine of constitutional government and their critical role in defending the peace no matter what.

2) Use regional and global defense mechanism: Countries must organize regional and international pacts and treaties to ensure that anti constitutional violent activities are crushed to a pulp. African countries will be much better served in such endeavors since it amounts to pooling scare resources to uphold democracy

3) Strengthen the conflict resolution infrastructure: As I watch the NRC do its work in Ghana, I wonder why we did not have such institutions in effect before these crimes were committed? Why can't we have RRCs (regional reconciliation councils) help preempt these conflicts at their embryonic stage? Why not use ADR to complement the adversarial yet constipated court systems? An once of prevention must surely be worth more that a pound of cure.

4) Deliberately provide avenues for inclusion: Constitutional governments are not caveats for exclusion and cronyism. Instead, they must be beacons of hope and shinning example of unbridled freedom. This means that everybody must be heard and equal opportunities provided. The opposition and other minority groups must not be treated as pariah. Tribalism must be eschewed at all cost.

5) Ruthlessly punish all political thugs: One sure way to put a dent is vagrancy and wayward behavior is not to reward such behavior. On top of that, rebels or so-called deviants must be made to face the law. The message here is not to discount what ever charges these self styled rogues have, but to say that, no matter what legitimate issues you have, we will punish you for using violence to put your message across. The onus must be on citizens to find creative ways to solve problems.

6) Heighten awareness of the followership:- Civic education is definitely a must. I have always said that the day that we get the followership to wise up, will be the day that some of these senseless murders and deceitful political chicanery get tossed out of the window. You see, it is much more easier to fool a country with 70% illiteracy than it is maybe 20%or even 40%. Informing our people about viable choices can help stem the tide of systemic violence, as we know it.

7) Democracy is a discipline sport: Democracy is not easy or cheap. It requires discipline even in the face of political adversity and blatant ruffian behavior. We can choose quick-tempered short-term asinine solutions or comprehensive long-term reflective solutions. I opt for and will promote the latter. Not because it sounds good, but because it is the best, tried and tested, way to have sustaining long term peace critical for development.

8) Nationalism: Unfortunately nationalism occurs only when we want independence from colonialism or face a common enemy from outside. I am of the view that a real nationalist, not an expedient populist, is one who will not destroy his country for political gain. He will find ways to bring about change without following the path of least resistance. Destroying a country, only to build it back is as useless as biting your nose off and having it replaced through plastic surgery. We must not tolerate nor allow that. We must show our nationalism by rejecting, wholesale, such political adventurism cloaked in phony holy wars and placid relief rhetoric that is never ever delivered by the “mail men” as promised.

9) Train Leadership: These days anyone with money and a following consider himself a leader. Even though our constitution does not stipulated any educational requirement for our leaders, we must demand better. We must make sure that out leaders have the experience and training to implement a well-defined vision. We must never allow pranksters with doctored qualifications to assume the sacred seat of leadership. The least we can do is to scrutinize leaders in at effort to make sure that they don't plunge our society into chaos. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman
Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman, © 2004

The author has 17 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: NiiLanteyOkunkaBannerman

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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