The Ballot and Poverty in Africa – Godwin Nyirongo


I believe that Africa is the richest continent in the world however its poverty resides in the power within the ballot box. The complexion of the face of Africa has always been described in terms of absolute poverty and hunger, gun shots, political assassinations and bloodshed, high maternal and infant mortality rates and of course an endless list of “pimples” which makes its face look much uglier despite the enormous beauty under its “dark pimpled face”. The ballot box has consumed the energy within an ordinary African citizen to fully utilize the resources available in the continent for the better of us all but it has rather divided us such that the continent seems to be fully occupied by different types of labours each working for the benefit of the elites (those we put in power) within and outside the continent i.e. the ballot has made others filthy rich whilst others ultra poor.

The ballot has produced leaders who are corrupt, dictators, visionless, and extravagant. These are leaders that are much concerned with their welfares at the expense of the people who won their trust through the ballot box. They are leaders who can bite the very same hand that fed them such that they can at any time choose to step on our toes with harsh and fatal economic policies and conditions which are mostly in line with their needs and those of a few chosen others. These are indeed leaders who can play around with the monies (taxes) we laboured for to drink expensive wine in Europe, to be massaged by some lazy ladies in expensive hotels and bars overseas, can afford to buy porshy cars for almost every relative and indeed can spend millions of dollars marrying as many as four wives while the masses cannot afford even a bucket of clean water, minimum amount of food required per day, drugs, quality education and security not that the continent has no such resources to meet these needs but because someone born out of the grace from the ballot box has decided to sit over and watch them suffer. No wonder some cling on to this power so as to keep on enjoying the hot seat which the ballot has given them and keep on celebrating the poverty of the masses.

For some leaders if the power within the ballot goes contrary to their expectations they stand up tall on their feet and resort to violence and hooliganism. You need not to be reminded of such cases in Ivory Coast and Kenya. Of what positive contribution to poverty eradication can we say the election results gave to the continent? Well a number of productive human resources were lost in those fracases, infrastructures and superstructures were demolished, factories, markets or trading centers, produce and crops were all lost in the aftermaths of results from the ballot box. These are potential drivers to poverty eradication in these countries in particular and Africa in general. What about the cost of rebuilding these nations? They will surely perpetuate poverty as attention will be much paid to rebuilding the nation rather than human welfare.

To conclude, the poverty we see in Africa is indeed our own creation as a result of the power we give to our leaders through the ballot box. The choice we make on the ballot paper surely determines the kind of life we will live after the ballot has spoken out. It is therefore necessary to critically think about our choices we make before choosing the people responsible for our livelihood. We must choose leaders whom we share a common “DNA” i.e. those that have visions, objectives and goals similar to those of the masses otherwise the rest are just noise makers on the ballot box who are interested in ending their own poverty and at least have a feel of the cold weathers of Europe, their faces can tell kuti akula ndi mavuto.         



The irony of leadership in Africa