If Gordon Brown were an African leader, he would have refused to resign. You see, after the end of the British elections, nobody won. One would say Brown did not win, but he did not lose either. The winner, the Conservative Party aka Tories, did not get enough votes for them to have a clear, undisputed mandate. In such a case, the Labour Party had a chance to stay in power. They could have, for instance, knelt down before the Liberal Democrats until a deal was reached. In the end, Labour would still have remained in power, 13 years after Tony Blair led them to the high table.
But, in a twist to the tale, Tony Blair announced his resignation Monday. He will not seek to remain in No. 10 Downing Street after the dust has settled. He will not canvass for any candidate vying for the post of leader of the Labour Party in the race for his replacement that shall follow after this announcement.
If this was back home, Gordon Brown would have announced, instead, his intention not to leave. There would have been no shortage of the atidyenawo bootlickers to urge him to stay. By now, so-called “concerned citizens” would have been jostling for space on state radios and the television, trying to lament what a loss to the nation it would be for the leader to step down. In fact, so the argument would have gone, the leader cannot be allowed to leave without, ahem, “completing the development projects he has begun.”
Or, if the worse came to the worst, he would have stepped down but, for fear of losing the cabinet perks and all that, he would have chosen to cling to the post of Leader of Opposition for life. He would have been contented to live to the age of 82 and still be Leader of Opposition; after all one gets the perks of a cabinet minister plus a car and all that.
There is no such thing as civilized politics here. The politics of our nation is merely for self-aggrandizement and perpetuating one’s stay in power even after overstaying one’s welcome. Take Muluzi, for example, he tried his best to push for a third term. At the time of doing this, we even had some so-called intellectuals arguing that he needed time to complete his “projects.” Which projects, for God’s sake? Now, the same people who stood on anthills looting for Muluzi speak about how bad it would have been for the nation to have a Muluzi third term.
We need to learn from the civilized politics of the West. People have to learn not to think they are the only ones that can lead. We need real democracies here, where leaders should be chosen by the people in a free environment, not merely appointed and hedged into their positions. We need to give power to the people. We need leaders who know when to say goodbye.
There are many talented people around who can lead. We need philosophies that encourage genuine participation of all the people. We need to discard political gamesmanship. We do not want to be told: “The people have chosen this one,” when, in fact, you are the one that chose someone and cajoled everyone to support your choice. Our leaders should learn not to turn themselves into our gods.