Africa: When African Political Parties Lost the Plot
Political parties in Africa emerged as a byproduct of colonial rule. They were never organic. To the colonizers, it was as simple as teaching a toddler to tie shoelaces – only that, they weren’t teaching, they were dictating.
Their playbook went something like this: assemble various groups, slap the label “political parties” on them, toss them into the ring, and let the gladiators fight to the death. They called this savage battle “competition” and crowned the last one standing as the supreme ruler for a few years. Then, guess what? Rinse and repeat! They even had the audacity to dub this circus act “periodic democratic elections.”
But here’s the kicker, Africa, despite all the time that has passed, still clings to this antiquated system like it’s the last lifebuoy on a sinking ship. It’s like fitting square pegs into round holes, right? The result is pure comedy gold.
Now, let’s ponder why the colonizers didn’t leave us with something more sensible, like Chambers of Commerce or Development Think Tanks. They probably thought we were allergic to progress, or did they believe our brains couldn’t handle the intellectual rigor of running think tanks? The irony is delicious.
Parties, as they stand today, are about as welcome as a porcupine at a balloon factory. Back in the day, they blossomed from ethnic, regional, or religious identities, which is like mixing oil with water. Our ancestors, on the other hand, had a knack for flexible production systems and barter arrangements. They knew how to keep the economic boat afloat without drowning in ‘party politics’.
But let’s not forget the classics, like the Convention People’s Party in Ghana or the Kenya African National Union (KANU). These parties, once shining stars, have dimmed into mere shadows of their former selves, like forgotten celebrities in retirement. Even the newcomers, the post-independence parties, are caught in a tangled web of issues. They are institutionally weak, devoid of loyal members, and their piggy banks are perpetually empty. It is like trying to win a race with a punctured tire.
The icing on the cake? Most of these parties lack any sense of direction. They can’t even decide what they stand for, which is like trying to navigate a maze blindfolded. Instead of building strong institutions, they are all about the cult of personality. It is like a never-ending reality show, complete with melodrama and betrayals.
So, here we are, at a crossroads, where it’s adapt or become a relic in the Museum of Political Oddities. Instead of sticking to the worn-out script of political parties, Africa could choose a different path. We could embrace the Cooperatives, Business Associations, Chambers of Commerce, Innovation and Incubation Hubs, Think Tanks, Public-Private Partnerships, and Regional Economic Blocs as our guiding lights. Or we could give our political parties a makeover, turning them into problem-solving machines that tackle the daily needs of the people.
The choice is ours, and it’s time to decide. As long as we don’t adjust our governance structures to fit our circumstances, we’ll continue marking political independence without ever tasting the sweet nectar of genuine socio-economic freedom. It’s a comedy of errors that’s gone on for far too long.