Arab Revolution, not African: The Fall of Boutaflika and Omar al-Bashir cannot affect Southern African Leaders

By Chris Zumani Zimba

pjimage-24-1.jpgFrom the word go, I want us to agree that this is African comparative politics as well as political theory with specific reference to democracy promotion in light with what recently happened in Algeria and Sudan. Straight to the main question: To what extent will  Algeria and Sudan’s political experience influence politics in other African States especially in southern Africa and what learns does the second wave of Arab revolutions provide to other African leaders?. My political opinion remains the same: “the manner of regime change in both Algeria and Sudan must not mislead us to conclude that similar political patterns will be modelled and replicated in other African states especially in Southern Africa. The key reason is, what is happening in the two countries in question is simply the second wave of Arab revolutions (the first wave having been in Morocco, Egypt, Libya and Yemen but failed in Syria). It is aimed at bringing down long serving authoritarians who are not open to multiparty rule as well as pretty aged in terms of life both in power and on earth.

It will be technically amiss to think that the Arab revolutions both first and seond waves can be equated to become an African revolution or phenomenon because even a well-funded #AfricanRisingMovement in West and East Africa could not hatch any regime change as anticipated. You are free to engage and chart with Museveni in Uganda, Paul Biya in Cameroon, Peter Nkrunzinza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda or King Swati in the tip of the continental south. Moreover, just like in Zimbabwe during the fall of the old Robert Mugabe, at the heart of all these Arab revolutions, the army, men and women in uniform were the main catalyst and game changer than even the mob, the civilians themselves. It is an Arab revolution for sure and not really African…

To appreciate my premature preposition and empirical conclusion, I will invite you to appreciate the following key dynamics at the center of the Arab revolutions which are brutally absent in Southern Africa and most parts of Sub Sahara Africa, West Africa included.

  1. Which other African State has a President who has been in power for more than 30 years?
  2. Which other African State has a sitting legitimate President so old i.e. above 90 years & physically weak?
  3. Which other African State has a President who is consistently betraying and offending his long term party comrades, military ranks and top government officials? 
  4. Which other African leader has openly allowed the ‘First Lady’ and ‘strange selfish business elitist’ to takeover by abusing and exploiting his presidential name and office themselves?
  5. Which other African state has ‘a collective political position’ between the ruling party, opposition, civil society, chiefs, the church, armed forces and citizens to retire its sitting president?
  6. Which African state has a ruling party which is so united and respectful to its long term political father who is ‘forced’ to resign as President but still treat him as a President?
  7. Which African state can execute a fragile political battle using military intervention without any bloodshed or loss of life?
  8. Which African President is politically unwanted because he/she does not serve the interest of Western donor states and foreign investors?
  9. Which African President is facing a military uprising and possible power take over?

Therefore, if we cannot trace and find more than five compatible political scenarios that fit and exactly explain any of the above 9 questions in any African state, then we shall be wrong to think and conclude that what happened in the two Arab states recently can be replicated at continental level. Thus, the style of regime change in two Arab countries was politically, legally and militarily so unique and professionally peculiar to the traditional Arab revolutions we have known such that they remain less meaningful and significant within SADC and AU states in general.

Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Policy Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher, Consultant, Public Health and Tobacco Control Advocate. Besides being the CEO at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Town, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:45hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles on African politics and public health. Sometimes, he lectures Political Science-Part Time with University of Zambia (UNZA) and University of Lusaka (UNILUS) outside his usual commitments. Chriszumanizimba.cz@gmail.com or chriszumanizimba@yahoo.com; +260 973 153 815 for calls or WhatsApp

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