By Chris Zumani Zimba
According to the English Online Dictionary ‘Naming and Shaming’ is now a prominent concept which means “the activity of saying publicly that a person, company, government or leader has behaved in a bad or illegal way”. The main aim and rationale behind ‘Naming and Shaming’ is to expose and deter bad or illegal policies, decisions, actions, conduct and behavior so that the person, company, government or leader involved are ashamed and embarrassed in the eyes of the masses and consequently repent and refrain next time. Across the Western world, many Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) especially in human rights, democracy promotion and good governance cherish and constantly use the concept of ‘Naming and Shaming’ to steer and advance their works. It is this concept that set the US President, Donald Trump highly distinguished and exceptionally different from his peers across the world when it comes matters of African governance. Here is some of the key ‘Naming and Shaming’ examples from President Trump focusing on African leaders and governments:
Speaking at the NATO Summit Press Conference on 12th July, 2018, President Trump lamented that “Africa right now has got problems like few people would even understand. If you saw some of the things that I see through intelligence – what’s going on in Africa – it is so sad, it is so vicious and violent. We want peace for Africa. We want peace all over the world”, he stressed. Although it was unavoidable, President Trump did what many African presidents fail to do when they speak on these global platforms-to ‘name and shame’ the core retrogressive and negative issues heating up here and dangerously boiling across the region. As we know, across Africa today, democracy and good governance is under serious attack from all political fronts with increase political violence, electoral malpractices, vote buying and intimidation, corruption, kleptocracy, tribalism, nepotism, regionalism, terrorism, civil unrests, border conflicts, bloody wars, violations of human rights, poor rule of law, persecution of political rivals, arbitrary political arrests and police brutality, censorship of the private media, poor separation of power and lack of judicial independence. With all these negative political signatures, African political leaders fail to openly condemn their counterparts or honestly provide peer corrections as sitting Presidents of Prime Ministers on many occasions while the dear poor Africans continue to pay the heavy price everyday. But the American first citizen is proving to be now the most reliable and lead global voice as well as trusted political advocate for the welbeing of millions of poor, traumatized and dying African people. It is shameful for African leaders.
As we speak, it is reported that since the South Sudan political conflict started in 2013 between President Salva Kiir and his then Vice President Riek Machar, more than 2 million people have been internally displaced, and another 2 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries, with 1 million in Uganda alone. More than 230,000 people are sheltering in six United Nations bases in towns across the country. In addition, more than half of the South Sudan citizens are now threatened with hunger and starvation. It is such issues that President Donald Trump was ‘naming and shaming’ at the NATO Summit especially that African leaders themselves seem not to have this strong passion and courage to bring their shortcomings to the attention of the world.
During the days of Robert Mugabe who was the president of Zimbabwe for more than 37years, President Donald Trump was one of the few Western allies and voices for the unhappy and unfree people of Zimbabwe as he constantly called for Mugabe to resign and openly condemned his authoritarian political leadership. In addition, President Trump has never been silent on the political happenings in DR Congo as he has publicly condemned and constantly called upon President Joseph Kabila to respect the constitution and hold democratic elections since his official term of office came to an end in November, 2016. This means that, in all these political tribulations, the citizens of DR Congo have a ‘tall and big good friend’ on the global stage who openly names and rebukes Joseph Kabila as ‘an expired dictator’ as he is only ruining his country and killing his innocent people.
In conclusion, it is imperative to note that like many other global leaders, President Donald is free to keep quiet about whatever is happening in underdeveloped Africa and concentrate on his developed US. But Africans must thank him because he has proven to be their number one ally who is ‘naming and shaming’ bad African political leaders and has made Africa’s political, economic and security challenges as part of his campaign and advocacy agendas on the global stage. If and when African civil society organizations and citizens fail to petition the AU, SADC, ECOWAS, EAC or COMESA against their respective governments in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, DR Congo, Zambia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Malawi, Chad, Angola, Burundi or Tanzania, President Donald Trump is now that true powerful friend and globally visible institutionalization they can count on and work with to defend either democracy or good governance.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer, Researcher and Consultant