US elections…implications for Africa

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THE recently held US elections have exposed the Americans for democratic charlatans that they are.

The US is not the doyen of democracy that it purports to be. 

Chaotic would be the best way to describe their just-ended elections.

Embarrassing would aptly sum the refusal by incumbent President Donald Trump, who was thumped by bitter rival Joe Biden, to concede deafeat.

And with that, the horses have bolted, the US can no longer preach democracy to anyone; they can no longer tell the world how to run elections and it will take a great deal to convince anyone that it is the model of democracy.

This embarrassing episode needs thorough probing, especially where Africa is concerned. 

Here we go.

As the US held its elections last week, back on the minds of progressive forces in Africa was the recent threat by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that his country would not hesitate to impose sanctions on African countries that do not observe the tenets of democracy.

Ironically, Pompeo cited elections as the focal point of his statement.

As is becoming the norm, Africa did not dignify that provocative statement with a response.

There too was no response from Africa on the US’ statement on the recently held elections in Tanzania.

“The United States is committed to supporting free, fair, inclusive elections,” said Pompeo.

“The conduct of elections is important not only for Africans, but also for defenders of democracy around the world.

We believe all sides should participate peacefully in the democratic process. Repression and intimidation have no place in democracies.

The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and association are at the heart of a functioning democracy.

Adherence to these democratic norms and to the rule of law allows all citizens to engage in political dialogue and support their choice of candidates, parties and platforms.”

He went on:

“We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those responsible for election-related violence.

As long-time partners to the nations of Africa, we care about the region’s democratic trajectory and are committed to working constructively with international and regional partners.”

Interestingly, the November 3 2020 US polls were one of the most chaotic elections in living memory.

The incumbent, Trump, had indicated that he would not commit to relinquishing power, saying the courts might eventually decide the outcome of those polls, a statement he repeated during vote counting.

“We were winning in many other states and we were just about to declare it and then suddenly this fraud happened there. A fraud on the American people. And we will not let this happen,” said Trump as he claimed premature victory on Wednesday last week at the White House.

“So, we are going to go to the US Supreme Court and ensure that suddenly new ballots are not mysteriously found at 4 am and added to their tally. Quite frankly this is a shame to America and to the millions of Americans.

We will not let them get away with this. The results have been phenomenal… we are surely going to win. We are far ahead in the states where numbers are still coming in. They will never ever catch up with us.”

Trump and Pompeo were in the news again, with the former indicating that he is not about to relinquish the reins.

He claims the elections were ‘rigged’ and, like his acolyte in Zimbabwe, Nelson Chamisa of the opposition MDC Alliance, has indicated that he will approach the courts for remedy

“We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him. They don’t want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media,” said Trump moments after Biden was declared winner.

“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.

The American People are entitled to an honest election. That means counting all legal ballots and not counting any illegal ballots. This is the only way to ensure the public has full confidence in our election. It remains shocking that the Biden campaign refuses to agree with this basic principle.”

And Trump has refused to co-operate in the transition process.

Instead, Pompeo said this week that the transition would be for Trump’s second administration, an indication that the US is set to plunge into chaos.

“The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today and successful with a president who’s in office on January 20 a minute after noon will also be successful,” he said at a mid-day briefing.

Had this declaration been made by an African leader, drones would be flying all over with ICC indictments waiting in the wings.

The simple issue is that the US cannot teach anyone in the world about democracy because it has failed dismally on that front.

A September 24 2020 report by BBC titled ‘US election: Trump won’t commit to peaceful transfer of power’ showed that the US would conduct one of the most chaotic polls in history.

Reads the report in part:

“US President Donald Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November’s election.

‘Well, we’ll have to see what happens,’ the president told a news conference at the White House.’You know that.’

Mr Trump also said he believed the election result could end up in the US Supreme Court, as he again cast doubt on postal voting.

More states are encouraging mail-in voting, citing the need to keep Americans safe from coronavirus.

   Every losing presidential candidate has conceded.”

If an African leader were to say what Trump said, there would be a flurry of activity from US sponsored ‘activists’ on the failure to uphold the principles and tenets of democracy.

There would be hashtags to incite the people.

Africa’s silence is telling and in many ways too.

Crucially, Zimbabwe has refused to be bullied by Western countries, in particular the US which has not hidden its resentment of anything that takes Zimbabwe forward.

Africa must stand up to the US’ bully tactics.

We should have statements from the AU, SADC and other regional bodies condemning the allegations of rigging, intimidation and violence that have characterised the US elections.

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