For some time now I have been asking myself this particular question: is disruption the only way to bring about change? Is there such a thing as continuous change, where stability is ensured yet status quo is challenged? This might sound too philosophical a question but what has brought this question to the forefront is the development of events in certain parts of Africa.
I am particularly thinking of Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea,, Cameroon, Uganda and Togo. The removal of Mugabe from power is something that will be studied in history classes as a peaceful end to a four decade rule. Yet, what is happening is those other countries is certainly cause for concern.
Equatorial Guinea announced this week that the government stifled an attempted coup around Christmas time. President Teodoro Obiang, who himself rose to power through a coup against his uncle. The government has mentioned that the perpetrators were supported by opposition parties and certain foreign governments, none of which it named. In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has signed into law a bill that changes the age limit requirement for candidates to run for president. This will allow him to run for this sixth term in the upcoming elections.
President Kabila from DRC is also coming under fire after having extended his term which expired in December of 2016. He was due to organize elections in 2016, however setting the date for the election was delayed because of different issues, including a budget issue where the national election commission stated that an election would cost close to two billion dollars and that mobilizing such an amount would be difficult. The date has now finally been set for December 2018. The people of Congo have been protesting asking for a change, same as those in Cameroon and Togo. Large demonstrations that have turned bloody have defined the last few weeks, and months for Cameroon and Togo, of those countries. They are all calling asking for something similar, change in the leadership.
So what do all of these countries have in common? The answer is, they all have heads of state that have been in power for longer than intended. So my question is quite simple, is there such a thing as a peaceful way of changing the status quo? Many people say that elections are the way, but we have seen time and again that has not been the case, especially in these countries. What happened in Zimbabwe was in fact “unconstitutional”, it was “undemocratic” when one looks at the textbook definition of due process. Nonetheless, the change was peaceful, the status quo has shifted and change is on its way to Zimbabwe.
So I guess my real question is, can we negotiate peaceful change of status quo? Or do we have to continuously picture revolutions, such as the “Arab Spring” where, years after it has happened many are left with the question of whether things are worse than they used to be, case in point being Egypt.
I do not know if I am being disillusioned after seeing so many bold movements being crashed, many losing their lives and change still not coming but I am now more interested in seeing how we can negotiate change. Peace matters and so does change. In this new European year, I am hoping for less bloodshed and more for peaceful change.