Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Kenya shows the way

President Thabo Mbeki has a habit of writing ANC Today newsletters about the good news stories of Africa but I suspect he will not refer to the Kenyan example in the near future. You see this past weekend the two oppositions groupings chose their candidate to represent them in the Presidential elections in December.

Both parties had several candidates who had declared their ambitions months in advance and on the weekend each of them got to present their platforms in front of the party faithful who then could choose their candidates in a secret ballot. Democracy in action.

On Saturday we had a huge Nama Choma (a braai with lots of beer) chatting to the local elites, including some judges of the High Court. In between jokes about the drinking and the eating and the fact that some group had lodged a case in the Kenyan Constitutional Court suing Pontuius Pilate, Tiberius and others for the unfair trial of Jesus (really!) we returned to the topic of the election.

Everybpody was deeply interested in the outcome of the two party elections and we speculated on the chances of these candidates against the incumbent, President Mwai Kibaki. This was important, but it was not a life and death fight between some "enemy" and the forces of light.

The contrast with South Africa and the behaviour of President Mbeki and others in the ANC was striking. Perhaps because Kenyans threw out the equivalent of the ANC after more than 35 years in power four and a half years ago, they have matured politically and see the election for what it is: An important but ordinary contest between rival parties.

Maybe we will only be able to have real elections for ANC leaders oncethe ANC is thrown out of power for the first time? Maybe President Mbeki should come and visit Kenya to see how it is done?

On such a visit he may also be shocked by how tedious many Africans in other parts of the world find talk about race and about the "enemies" of Africa in general and Africans in particular. But the ANC needs enemies to quell the enemy within, so we are unfoirtunately stuck with this discourse for time to come.

PS: After writing this post, I read an interesting piece in The Nation, reminding me that the then ruling Kanu party (the equivalent of the ANC in Kenya), broke up shortly after it became the first party in Kenya to have a free leadership election which was soon followed by their electoral defeat. Maybe that is the lesson members from the ANC would take from Kenyan politics?

PPS: I was sitting in an internet cafe with a keyboard that hardly worked when I typed a first version of this post, so it was riddled with typos. I have now fixed it up.


JR said...

I guess we can attribute the typographical errors to the known but as of yet unproven consequences of the Nama Choma??

Tererai said...

They are called Kenyans!


Anonymous said...

So - if we're anything like the Kenyans - we'll have to stick it out a mere 22 more years to lose the ANC. Yay!

Matthew Hennessey said...

"Maybe we will only be able to have real elections for ANC leaders oncethe ANC is thrown out of power for the first time?"

You have posed this as a question. But it might better be stated as a fact.