I am teary-eyed, and you may want to have some tissues ready because you will, too, by the time you are done with this article. It is about the impossible–democracy in Africa–and how 54 individuals are bringing it to Africa. For this Beta Version of Democracy, the aforementioned 54 Very Important Africans will also be the only ones voting, sacrificing themselves for Africans as they protect it from the scourge of democracy.
Like democracies elsewhere, this one has rules and candidates. It has a period for campaigning and coalition-building. Each candidate is required to give his or her vision and whether it aligns with that of the continent. Gifts and favor-exchanges are allowed. Because the 54 Visionaries have volunteered to be the only voters, there is no danger of hacking. Voting is done in secret, and the candidate has to get 2/3 of the votes to be declared a winner. The magic happens on January 19, 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Five Candidates
1. Pelonomi Venson-Motoi is the Foreign Minister of Botswana. In the first run-off in July 2016, Ms Venson-Motoi had the most votes (23), but not 2/3 of the votes as the rules say (36/54), so the voting was….postponed. Back in July, she was only running against two candidates: now she will run against four. Many of our 54 Wise Voters who abstained from voting in July 2016 argued that none of the candidates (including Ms Venson-Moitoi) quite meet the qualification requirements for such an important post. Now, the same Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is hoping that in comparison to the other four she will appear supremely qualified. A neo-liberal and HRW favorite: not popular with Our 54 Electors.
But for whatever it is worth, she has the support of the regional affiliation, the Southern African Development Community, and she is guaranteed at least 12 votes to start with, 14 if you count Seychelles and Mauritus. And you should: they have a flag and everything.
2. Agapito Mba (his middle name, not his credential) Mokuy, the Foreign Minister of The Equatorial Guinea speaks Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and Fang. He was the other candidate who was also found unqualified by our esteemed 54, despite a resume full of UNESCO and UNDP and suchlike busybody work, but now that he is running in an even more competitive field, he should stand out. He is not backed by any regional group, leaving him to campaign in Chad, Senegal and other decent countries which have the good sense to make French their official language. And he is from Equatorial Guinea: see map below. No chance.
3. Mousa Faki Mahmat, Chad’s Foreign Minister, is also in the running, which kinda defeats Agapito Mokuy’s campaigning for the office in Chad. Chad has got to go with the local favorite, no? Mousa has been part of Chad’s ruling dynasty, one way or another, since 2003 including as its Prime Minister (3 times). His party is named “Patriotic Salvation Movement” and how could you possibly go wrong with that? Unlike Pelonomi, he doesn’t appear to have gotten the endorsement of his regional organization–Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), map above— probably because Equatorial Guinea, and its candidate, are also a member of such an influential gathering of nations.
4. The fourth candidate, Abdoulaye Bathily, is Senegal’s candidate. (We call it “Abdullahi” but, hey, that’s Arabic.) He too has been flying around West to East to build coalitions and serve his constituents. He is the Secretary-General of the Democratic League/Movement for the Labour Party (LD/MPT), and of course you are asking: what exactly is that? And more importantly (since we don’t expect to ever hear anything from this party ever again) can you tell us what its logo is and we will decide? Sure:
Where are our manners: he is actually Dr. Abdoulaye Bathily. Senegal is the big dog in Francophone Africa so there will be a lot of politicking.
5. Dr Amina Mohammed is Kenya’s candidate, and the country’s Foreign Minister. Like Botswana’s Pelonomi Venson-Motoi, Dr. Amina is supported by the regional affiliation Kenya is a part of. This one:
That’s the East African Community (EAC): big name, but few members. This is why she had to expand her campaign to the Horn of Africa, and she has already gotten the endorsement of Sudan (ditching Chad) and Ethiopia (whose PM said “we should focus on the quality and not what area or region candidates come from” and then went for the regional favorite. Not officially, because as a host, he can’t. Neither can many of the Peace & Security Council Africans like Egypt and Algeria.) Like Agapito, she is part of the UN family: she worked as an assistant to the undersecretary to the deputy of the UN or something. Nigeria is for her (Anglophile Africans fighting the Francophone Africans. Weird? No.) Djibouti should be a lock. So should Somalia: Dr. Amina Mohammed is an ethnic Somali. Well, who knows with Somalis: maybe she is from the “wrong” clan. So is China. Eritrea is a tough call and it may all boil down to a figurine of a rhino.
All these esteemed individuals are campaigning to be African Union Chairperson, to replace Her Excellency NKosazana Dlamini-Zuma who declined a second four-year term. So very considerate, so self-restrained. Also, she is going to run for president in South Africa. The Southern African candidate has no chance (you can’t have two back-to-back AU chairpersons from same region: some unwritten rule.) There are two candidates from Central Africa (they split the vote: they should have fielded one candidate.) One from Francophone West Africa. One from Anglophile East Africa. And she is a woman: refer to AU Agenda 2063. The electors will be the head of states (or their appointed delegates.) Five candidates, fifty-four electors. That very few of the electors were elected themselves but they shot their way to power and refused to leave (by amending constitutions or ignoring them) does not diminish anything. Nor does the fact that, behind the scenes, China, the US and the European Union are pushing their candidates. Because we, who can’t elect, know who will win.
Viva Africa. 长寿非洲