Even in this remarkable year of uprisings and unpredictable events, it was an inspirational moment that revealed the pace of change sweeping Africa. The veteran leader of a country whose party had become entrenched in office and been plagued by corruption allegations handed over the presidency after losing an election.
In a continent where all too often presidents cling on to power by any means necessary, Zambia‘s Rupiah Banda conceded defeat on Friday with astonishing grace and dignity. “My generation, the generation of the independence struggle, must now give way to new ideas – ideas for the 21st century,” he said, with tears in his eyes.
His generous message of reconciliation and unity was greeted with relief in a former British colony that has been relatively stable since gaining independence, especially given flickers of violence sparked by slow counting of votes. After half a century in the public eye, the 74-year-old said he would go home to play with his children.
Banda deserves to be called one of Africa’s big men. His fine words offer the sharpest possible reproach to the generation that has dominated the political landscape of Africa with often such dreadful consequences.
The reluctance of these old men to leave office has scarred the continent, especially given their propensity to pillage their nations, eliminate rivals and clamp down on free expression. It is not just the obvious tyrants such as Robert Mugabe, 87 years old and still ruining Zimbabwe, and Teodoro Obiang, whose repressive kleptocracy in Equatorial Guinea is now the longest-standing government in Africa.
In supposed democracies such as Senegal and Cameroon, elderly men long past retirement age are gearing up for elections at which they intend to retain their grip
Category: Africa News