George Ayittey on African Dictatorships
George Ayittey is a Ghanaian economist and the author “Africa Unchained” . In 2008, Ayittey was listed by the Foreign Policy magazine as one of the “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” of our time.
It goes without saying that the presence of African dictators on the continent’s political scene is as strong as ever as this list of current African dictators indicates.
At a recent talk at the World Freedom Forum George Ayittey made some typically poignant statements.
In the 1960s, we got rid of the white colonialists, but we did not dissemble the oppressive colonial state. We removed the white colonialist and replaced him by black neocolonialists, Swiss bank socialists, crocodile liberators, quack revolutionaries and briefcase bandits. Africans will tell you, we remove one cockroach and the next rat comes to do the same exact thing.
On how he would fight and win against African dictators, George Ayittey had this to say.
Ayittey’s “law” of African dictatorship says African dictators cannot be defeated through “rah-rah street demonstrations alone.” To purge Africa from the scourge of dictatorships, Ayittey says three things are required:
First, it takes a coalition to organize and coordinate the activities of the various opposition groups. It is imperative that you have a small group of people– call them an elders’ council to coordinate the activities– [composed] of eminent and respectable personalities who have no political baggage. They must be able to reach out to all the opposition groups. We formed one in Ghana called the Alliance for Change… Second, you got to know the enemy, his modus operandi, his strengths and weaknesses… You find his weaknesses and exploit it…. All dictators [operate] by seiz[ing] the civil service, media, judiciary, security forces, election commission and control the bank. They pack these institutions with their cronies and subvert them to serve their interests. For a revolution to succeed, you have to wrest control of one of more of these institutions. Third, you have to get the sequence of reform correct…
Last year, there were ten elections in Africa. The dictators won all ten… Why? Because the opposition was divided. In Ethiopia, for example, there were 92 political parties running to challenge the dictator Meles Zenawi… It shouldn’t be this way. The council should bring all of the opposition into an alliance…
Read the full commentary to George Ayittey’s speech to the forum at the Salon.
It’s always empowering to hear from George Ayittey. He has inspired a generation to think beyond the status quo.
The video below is from the Oslo Freedom Forum. A must see for any self respecting member of the cheetah generation!