Recent election results from the Congo indicate that sitting President Joseph Kabila is going the way of the Golongese dictator from Corruptions, Ernest Koliba. Kabila’s father Laurent began his Presidency as a dim beacon of hope after he’d ousted former Congolese dictator Mobuto. Joseph succeeded his father, assassinated by bodyguards in 2001, and was facing his first reelection — but reelection can be such a tricky thing for African presidents.
Kabila, reelected last week in a severely disputed election, has now stated that there was absolutely, positively nothing wrong with his election, despite so much evidence to the contrary. Reminds me of a key paragraph in the novel:
Africa’s problem was the lack of viable governments or, as Weller always put it, “Africa doesn’t have political systems—it has political leaders.” From Mubarak in Egypt, down through Museveni in Uganda, Moi in Kenya and Mugabe in Zimbabwe, up through Mobutu in Zaire, Bongo in Gabon, the Eyadema family in Togo, up even to Ben Ali in Tunisia, Africa with rare exceptions was a series of “Big Man” countries where the President was the country, and the country served the President. The exceptions were glaring and most—like Nelson Mandela in South Africa—didn’t last, falling back into the “Big Man” mode once their Mandela retired. Much of the blame lay with the colonial powers that left Africa in a shambles; someday, though, Africans will need to focus on the solutions, not on who was to blame for their political misery.
Kabila looks to be yet another in a very long list.