A New Dawn in Zimbabwe?

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Onikepo Braithwaite
The Advocate By Onikepo Braithwaite, Email: onikepo.braithwaite@thisdaylive.com

Last week was a rather eventful one. I don’t know where to start. Three events that occurred, were my own highlights. The change of baton in Zimbabwe, our trip to Congo Brazzaville, and the young lady in Abuja, Maryam Sanda, who is accused of murdering her husband, because of suspicions of infidelity.

Zimbabwe: The Fall of Mugabe

Remember that I wrote about ‘sit-tight’ Dictators in my piece “Can I be President for One Day” on 27/12/16? Here some excerpts from it: “Recently, I saw a headline on television, saying that President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who has been in power for 36 years, intends to run again in the 2018 election, by which time he will be 94. The first thought that crossed my mind was “if he’s still alive by then!” (Not that I wish him dead or anything like that). However, it is obvious that Mugabe wants to remain in power ‘until death does him and the Presidency part’ (President for Life). Mugabe has already surpassed Joaquin Balaguer of the Dominican Republic, who had previously broken the world record as the oldest President in the World, leaving office at the age of 89. So, if it’s a place in history that Mugabe seeks, he already has one!”

I went on to say “Should African Leaders be made to swear to Sango or Amadioha (god of Thunder and Lightening) or Sopona (god of Smallpox), or some other deity, that if they do not step down graciously when their terms end, they will be struck dead or afflicted with smallpox or some other deadly disease? We Africans are still rather traditional, superstitious and fetish, and definitely seem to have more fear for that type of thing, than the police or constitution”.

In Yoruba, we have a saying “Ase ju, ase te” (you overdo it, you end up in disgrace). Disgrace, was more or less the fate suffered by Mugabe, who was finally forced out by the Military (or face impeachment), after he sacked the Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in order to pave the way for his wife “Gucci Grace”, to succeed him and assume the Presidency after him!

This to me, is a lesson for all ‘Sergeants Kusibe’ (Sergeants Die there/Sit-tight) Dictators, and those of our Rulers who are totally insensitive and fail to feel the pulse of the people, that ‘everyday for the thief, one day for the owner’; the people or some powerful institution, will eventually turn against you, and sack you when the time comes.

When the Zimbabwean Army swung into action, Nigerians were wondering why they simply didn’t just deal ruthlessly with Mugabe, instead of waiting for him to make the decision to resign. Maybe it is because of the Army decided to follow their Constitution to the letter. Strangely Section 23(1) of the Zimbabwean Constitution, provides that the State and all institutions and agencies of government “at every level must accord due respect, honour and recognition to veterans of the liberation struggle”! Of course, Robert Mugabe was a front runner of that struggle, and he probably just inserted that clause into the constitution, for his own benefit.

Section 10(1) of the Zimbabwean Constitution provides inter alia that, in the event that the President dies, resigns or is removed from office, the Vice President will assume the Presidency until the expiration of the former President’s term of office. Even though the Zimbabwean Constitution actually provides for two Vice Presidents (Section 92(1)), it seems that Mnangagwa was the only Vice President. It is therefore, in order for him to be sworn in as President.

If I was Mnangagwa, I would choose Morgan Tvangirai of one of the opposition political parties, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), as one of my Vice Presidents, to show a willingness for inclusion and real reform. I would also start to implement the reforms that Zimbabwe is in such dire need of, while making preparations to hold the elections, as and when due. It would not be a bad idea, to appoint a woman (not Gucci Grace), who is acceptable to the people and obviously up to the task, as one of the two Vice Presidents.

But will this be the case? Some say that 75 year old Mnangagwa, a Lawyer by profession, is almost as brutal as Mugabe, as he was one of the ‘three musketeers’ with Mugabe and the Head of the Military, General Constantine Chiwenga.

In any event, the world is watching and hoping that, for the sake of the Zimbabweans, this is a new dawn of ‘change’ and progress for them, and not business as usual. The way that some of the Zimbabweans were shown on television, almost somersaulting while dancing ‘Azonto’ and ‘Palongo’, it seems that they are extremely joyful and hopeful that this change of baton, will be a change for the better. With their economy more or less in shambles, the rate of unemployment astronomical (up to 90% or so), high crime rate, inconsistent State policy, destruction of the once fruitful agricultural sector, to mention but a few, Mnangagwa has his work cut out for him. May the Zimbabweans not be disappointed.

 

Dangote Berths in Congo Brazzaville

I cannot but tell you about our trip to Congo Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) last Thursday, for the commissioning of the 1.5 million MTPA Dangote Cement Plant SA situated at Mfila. The Special Guest of Honour was His Excellency, President Dennis Sassou Nguesso. Two things struck me about the place. First, it was the cleanliness of the environment. Unlike Nigeria, where the whole place is covered with garbage and ‘pure water’ satchets, the road from Nkayi Airport where we landed to the factory, a 30-45 minute drive, was practically immaculate. Second, was the quality of the road. It was a smooth road, beautifully done with drainage and wide speed bumps laid out at the approach to every village which we passed on the way to the factory. I wondered what the capital, Brazzaville, looks like, if this almost backwater looked like this.

The Mfila Plant seemed slightly similar in structure to the one in Obajana, Kogi State, though of course, Obajana is much bigger, 10.25 million MTPA or so. Obajana also has its own power plant, which, when we were taken on a tour of the facility the day it was commissioned in 2014 or so, we were told is capable of lighting up the whole of Abuja. We were also informed that the power plant was built in 14 months or less. When we were given this information, it was as if someone just poured ice cold water all over my body! So why had the subsequent Governments, been giving us such long and hopeless stories about the electricity situation in the country, how the situation is complex and cannot be rectified quickly? If Dangote Cement could build such a power plant in such a short period of time, what was Nigeria’s excuse? Even if the old installations were abandoned, new power plants could have been built in the different geo-political zones within 14 months, just like Dangote Cement. Why has it taken Nigeria so long and more or less unsuccessfully I might add, to

tackle the power situation in the country? Maybe we should call in Dangote Cement to be our Power Sector Consultant!

Needless to say, Dangote Cement did us proud. Not only does it remain the highest employer of labour outside of Government in Nigeria, it probably takes the same position in the other African countries where its factories are located. Congratulations Dangote Cement.

 

Bilyamin Bello and the Curse of a Violent Spouse?

R.I.P Bilyamin Bello

Nigerians woke up on November 20th, to the shocking news that 35 year old Bilyamin Bello (seems that he would have turned 36 a few days after his death), a young man who had his whole life ahead of him, had been stabbed to death in his Abuja home; and the person accused of his murder is his widow, Maryam Sanda Bello, who has been charged with culpable homicide punishable by death under Section 221 of the Penal Code. Though a person accused of murder can be granted bail by a Judge of the High Court, Maryam was denied bail and remanded in custody, until the commencement of her trial on December 7th.

To succeed, the Prosecution is required to prove that (a) the victim is deceased (b) that his death is as a result of the actions of the accused (c) that the accused’s actions were intentional and she knew that the probable consequence of her attack on the victim were grievous bodily harm or death. Musa v The State (2009) ALL FWLR Part 492 Page 1020 at 1033. The onus (burden) is on the Prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. Failure to do so, will result in the discharge of the accused person.

There are several defences open in a charge such as this, including self defence and provocation. In the case of the defence of provocation, if it is upheld, the offence may be reduced from culpable homicide punishable with death to culpable homicide not punishable with death. Ahmed Sheidu v The State LER [2014] SC/222/2011.

This case is different in the sense that, what we are used to seeing, is violence by the husband against the wife, and not the other way around. The bottom line is that a lot of people have anger management problems in Nigeria, and they do not seek help. Who knows whether there is really any proper psychiatric/medical assistance, available for that type of problem in Nigeria. Anyone with a violent spouse, may probably be better off taking to their heels, and escaping from a violent spouse, so that the worst does not happen, as in the case of late Bilyamin. May Allah, in his infinite mercy, grant Bilyamin Bello Al jannah Firdaus. Ameen.