ULIMWENGU: Americans can ditch their Trump, but do we have courage to get rid of ours?

Saturday December 14 2019

US President Donald Trump. PHOTO | MANDEL NGAN | AFP


Some Americans are unhappy that the world is laughing at them, courtesy of the buffoonery of their president.

They have been looking at various polls and surveys that show that their country has lost prestige in the world because of their president’s bizarre behaviour and outlandish declarations that sometimes make America’s allies think that the US under this man is working against the West in favour of powers hostile to them.

The world was recently treated to the spectacle of a group of Western leaders mocking their president, Donald Trump, and his antics, which apparently prompted his premature departure in a huff from a Nato summit.

Now we may expect Trump to be more strident in his demand that those who were caught sniggering behind his back put their money where their mouths are by paying up their dues to the Atlantic military alliance.

But the Westerners should not worry too much, because at least in their case, they can be sure that they will soon get rid of their buffoon. Either he goes out next year or he goes out in five years, period.

Next year he could still just hold onto the Oval Office, unless the squabbling Democrats finally agree on one of theirs who can trounce Trump, but after that they know they will have only four more years at most to suffer the man.


It is much more than we poor Africans can hope for, seeing as our own buffoons are, one after the other, finding ways to cling onto power like leeches long after they have outstayed their welcome.

As I say, the difference between Americans and ourselves is that once our Trumps get into office—by means foul or fair—their citizens may just find themselves saddled with them forever.

Some of these African Trumps came in through military takeovers; some stole elections and have clung onto power for decades by imprisoning or killing their opponents, and maybe these are understandable when they refuse to go, because basically there was little legitimacy in the way they took power in the first place, and so we should not expect them to be legit as to when time is up. What time?

We’ve heard—or haven’t we?—one such ruler saying that if anyone wants to take his power from him they should first go to the bush, because that is how he came into power, which sounds like incontrovertible logic.

That comes across as an invitation for citizens to start thinking about new constitutional dispensations, instead of carrying on with these imported models that have failed us so brilliantly.

But what about those who went through the motions of legitimating their accession to the highest office in the land, but who, having got there, engineer all sorts of strategies to make sure they stay put, even when they know they are no longer wanted?

This last thought may have given an idea to the American Trump, when he suggested that any attempt to remove him from office would trigger a second civil war in the United States, which is really extraordinary. That is what usually happens in Africa.

A sitting president who has nothing left to offer to his people is confronted with the probability of losing power at an election. Rather than lose, he unleashes the instruments of coercion onto his people, killing, maiming, raping...until the people give in and there is ‘peace’.

It is the ‘peace’ of the cemetery, but for our rulers it will do. Since the main undertaking is the despoliation of our countries’ resources for the benefit of the rulers, their families and cronies and foreign ‘investors’, there can be nothing wrong with the ‘peace’ of the cemetery as long as it facilitates and regulates the economic strangulation of our people.

The Americans are involved in a grim battle to resist being turned into Africans by their own elected president. They have the systems in place; all they have needed is to activate that system to remove a rogue president who has defiled so many hallowed principles.

But even with their system of checks and balances, the Nancy Pelosis of this world have to struggle. How much more must ours struggle to build systems that can check our own Trumps?