Straight Talk Africa host Shaka Ssali says most of African elections are a sham because they are “selections” which did not reflect the will of the people.
Speaking on Diamond TV’s programme dubbed Costa yesterday, Ssali observed that African elections represented the will of those who counted votes.
“The reason is that they (some African leaders) are not confident of who they are. [That’s why] they tend to be autocratic. They don’t do what democracy requires you to do which is consulting the people, listening to the people and they are not in the business of [upholding] accountability. Yes, they will call for elections but really, what sort of elections are those? Are they qualitative elections? Do you find a situation where the results of some of those elections reflect the will of the voter, the will of the people or do they simply reflect the will of those who counts the votes? That’s why you find in most African countries the incumbent president not losing elections because those elections are basically sham elections; they are selections,” Ssali said.
“I’m not talking about any particular president or any particular country. We have 54 member countries of the African Union and I do not think that you’ll find more than 15 countries out of those that practice a semblance of democracy as it is described, for example, by one American President Abraham Lincoln who said democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. [But] the problem is that democracy has ended up being a government of some people, by some people, through some people.”
He said it was unfortunate that most Africans were uneducated and could not hold their leaders accountable.
“They do not have the kind of information that is required in a democratic society so that you can actually make your leaders accountable because at the end of the day, in a democracy it is the people who have the power and not their representatives, not their presidents, not the judges and what have you. But in reality, it is the other way round; the people who are supposed to be employees of the people are the ones that have power. These people are probably socially, politically and economically insensitive to their own people; they don’t care! It’s just about me. This black American preacher, the Reverend, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, said ‘injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.’ What is needed in Africa is economic justice,” Ssali said.
And Ssali advised journalists to carry out research in order to be authoritative on the stories they were reporting on.
“You have to practice your journalism in a manner that at least reflects the kind of knowledge that you have. You have to somehow portray yourself as being authoritative in what you are doing – you are a professional. You have to rank very high and that means you have to read a lot, by the way. Make sure that you do not go to interview any newsmaker or any individual, unless you have done your homework on what makes that person tick or not tick. You don’t have to necessarily be aggressive [but] you can be assertive and that will show the knowledge of what you are talking about,” said Ssali.