Love or loath your president, he is there to stay

Tony Zakaria

I VISITED Malawi a couple of times when Kamuzu Banda was ‘prezidenti wa muyaya’ or president for life.

As soon as you drove away from Lilongwe or Blantyre cities myou could see ordinary folks were basically poor. Thatched huts, small farms with few crops.

And the attire of destitute villagers one would occasionally see in remote and peripheral districts of Tanzania.

And yet Malawians were stuck with a life president. Who would plead their cause?

The women of his land seemed to love him. They used to wait for hours for his excellency to arrive at events and then dance with enthusiasm with the then official hostess.

Am not sure if any-one ever did opinion polls to find out if Malawians truly loved the Kamuzu.

May he rest in eternal peace.He was in power for a long time and whenever a leader stays too long on top, he accumulates a lot of negatives.

This is why even good presidents must hand over power in good time before they be-come an enemy of many people.

Loyal people surrounding a presi-dent can make him believe everybody loves him, the economy is growing at supersonic speeds and he is the best president ever.

That could be true for some African countries that have had the same president for donkey years.

Take Malawi’s distant neighbour, the former Southern Rhodesia. It has an in-teresting story.

A British colony from 1923 it be-came an international pariah when the white minority rulers made the famous unilateral declaration of independence from the Britain in 1965.

For 15 years was Rhodesia lead by Ian Smith and hated by the majority black population.

Then in 1980 formal independence was recognised and Robert Mugabe became president.

Then Mugabe was a liberation hero, bringing majority rule to a wealthy country of many poor peasants and ex-combatants of the liberation struggle.

Thirty seven years later, the economy is in serious trouble, life is tough for most and unemployment almost absolute.

Do most Zimbabweabs still love their hero or has his negatives overshadowed any good deeds he may have accomplished?

The Shona tribe makes up 80% of the Zimbabwe population.

Perhaps as long as one of their kin is president, enough of the tribesmen and women will continue to support his presidency.

A Ndebele president may not be a palat-able option for my Shona cousins.

You know the Wachagga of Tanzania and the Shona are related, right?And with 16 official languages, how can there ever be a unifying factor, es-pecially for the other small tribes in the former trade colony of Cecil Rhodes?

I love Nyerere for what he did to Tanzania, unifying 120 tribes under on language and identity. With so many tribes, Tanzania should have been much more fractured than Zimbabwe.

Perhaps some Zimbabweans of some ethnic groups and races do not love their president.

Who can blame them? It is their democratic right to love or otherwise. Down further south in the former economic powerhouse of Africa lies another president.

He was a popu-lar trade union leader who unified mul-titudes of workers to successfully fight for their rights from previous govern-ment administrations.

Then he joined the ruling elite and lo and behold, he started to look like the enemy regime he used to fight as trade union leader.

This is what hap-pens when the shoe is on the other foot. It starts to pinch the wearer.

It has not helped his cause that his detractors have managed to stick a corrupt label on him on account of expenses to up-grade a private residential compound.President Zuma will soon complete eight years in office.

His negatives have accumulated steadily. The economy has not done as well, falling to second place in Africa behind Nigeria.

Strikes by miners, teachers and other grouos have plagued his administration.most recent cabinet shakeup has created resentment even among his sup-porters in the ruling African national congress.

And the perpetual xenophobis attacks on nationals of other countries are making South Africa the racist na-tion it used to be.

What is the use of hating your president? In Zuma’s case, his time will soon be up and the people can elect somebody else.

But for Americans, they are stuck with Donald Trump for the next three years and nine months.

He recently completed 70 days in office and yet only 37% of the population ap-prove of his work as president.

The Donald has himself to blame for making almost two thirds of the popula-tion dislike him.

I hesitate to say hate him. His abrasive style of leadership, his racist, anti-Muslim, anti-black, anti-immigrant proclamations and actions make him enemies outside his land of birth.

Here is a president who is doing ev-erything he can within his first 100 days in office to take away medical insurance from millions of Americans.

He has cut trade ties with his neighbours and Asian economic tigers by withdraw-ing his country unilaterally from trade agreements that took his predecessors years to negotiate.

This Trumpian unilateral declara-tion of trade independence will cost American jobs.

His anti-immigrant stance will hit American companies hard. Modern day America was built by hard-working immigrants.

Who is showering love on the American presi-dent? How long will white Americans remain a majority in the population of the USA?

The presidency of Donald Trump may influence the whole world to rethink the roles of presidents, the powers vested in the office and the politics of toeing the party line.

The so called developed democracies are not providing models of best practices that democracy advocates in develop-ing countries can hold up to dictatorial regimes.

Meanwhile President Putin seems to be as popular as ever.

The Russian economy has bounced back from reces-sion, he is seen as a strong leader who is trying to bring together former So-viet republics to the fold and assuming leadership in the middle east turmoil.

And the airstrike of an airport in Syria by US forces can only strengthen the hand of Putin in the geo-political stage.

Love your president. He is going no-where untill his term ends.

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