Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, February 28, 2005

Gnassingbe's Short Reign
I think we all herald some success in the resignation of Faure Gnassingbe as Togo's president. As I stated previously, this is undoubtedly a great success for "African solutions for African problems". African governments, most especially Nigeria and most of the ECOWAS states, deserve high praise in the hard line taken against Togo's infringements against democracy.

But what do we do with this precedent? Togo is a small, rather insignificant country, and this victory is incomparable with the gross violations of human rights being undertaken across the continent each day. If we could hold all African countries to the same account, we could be reaching great heights as a continent. Think Zimbabwe, think DRC, think Sudan. This is the continental viewpoint that we have to strive towards. No real growth can come without adherence to democratic principles, there are simply too many examples of despots destroying states without heed to their own people or the economic disasters that naturally follow.

This type of governmental discipline will help to lower the investment risk and improve Africa's allocation of FDI, so critical for the continent's future. Peer review is concurrently a fundamental strength and weakness of NEPAD. Its success depends on it, and it is the factor that international investors are scrutinising most closely. If we can develop a robust peer review mechanism as seen in Togo across the continent, we have a basis for African renaissance.

Where should it start? On our own doorstep, with Zimbabwe.

In the interim, Togo's problems are not yet over. After the parliamentary speaker (the supposed acting president under the Togolese constitution) left the country before Gnassingbe's induction and was refused re-entry into Togo, the deputy speaker has been made president of Togo until the elections, which has sparked more demonstrations and riots in the streets of Lome. The next test will be the elections, which could come under undue influence from Gnassinge's cohorts.