Magazine article New African

Voting with Minds, Not Hearts

Magazine article New African

Voting with Minds, Not Hearts

Article excerpt

With 55 countries making up Africa, there always seems to be an election taking place somewhere, or in the works, or someone trying to postpone one or dealing with the aftermath. In one way, we can claim that Africa is basking in an orgy of democracy. Yet, after the brief public jubilation, or disappointment depending on whether your party or the personality you favour has won or lost, dissatisfaction begins to set in once again.

For most people, whatever hopes of a better life were raised during the campaigning, the drab reality of trying to make ends meet returns with a vengeance.

While the political elite, of all colours, claw and clamber over each other to get their hands on the spoils of office or move up the greasy pole of political power, the condition of the ordinary people remains the same--a lifelong struggle to survive with some form of dignity and with superhuman effort and sacrifice, try to give their children the hope of a better life.

While the income disparity between the super-rich and the rest has never been greater the world over, the gap between the haves and the have-nots in Africa is becoming obscene.

Yet, when we look around the rest of the world, we know that this sorry state can be fixed. There will always be the rich, the middle class and the poor in all societies but it is the level of poverty in Africa that cannot be tolerated after 70 years of independence.

All politicians claim that once in office, they will work to uplift the lot of the people but, apart from a small handful, the promises and pledges are forgotten as soon as one is inducted into the 'ruling class' and the focus changes from one of service to the people to one of self-preservation and aggrandisement.

This should not happen in a democracy. But it does with predictable regularity. Whose fault is it? Is it the fault of the leaders who emerge or is it the fault of the voters who put them there in the first place?

If it is true that a people gets the government it deserves, then one has to ask what are the people voting for when they cast their ballots? Do they really understand the issues involved? Can they have confidence that the people they vote for will deliver what they promise based on a solid track record? …

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