From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Sep 09 2011 - 16:15:09 EDT
All failed states have pathetic leaders who do not focus on the common good
By MAINA KIAI
Posted Friday, September 9 2011 at 19:48
The NGO Fund for Peace and the journal Foreign Policy recently released
their sixth Failed States Index covering 2010. Kenya has improved in these
rankings that are required reading for serious analysts, moving from 13th
"most failed" state in 2009 to 16th last year.
But we are in the same league as Somalia, Chad, Sudan, DRC, Zimbabwe, Iraq,
Afghanistan, Haiti, Cote d'Ivoire, Pakistan, Nigeria, Niger and Yemen. Our
neighbours - who we often disparage - are "less failed", though Burundi,
Uganda and Ethiopia are not far off. Tanzania does not even make the top 60.
In Africa the "least failed" states are Mauritius ranked 150th, the
Seychelles at 119th, South Africa at 116th and Ghana at 114th.
The Index "draws on. 130,000 publicly available sources to analyse 177
countries and rate them on 12 indicators of pressure on the state - from
refugee flows to poverty, public services to security threats."
But the authors point out that though the Index does give strong indications
of probable fault lines, it is not a crystal ball that can predict where the
next instability will be.
They ranked Tunisia when the Arab Spring started at 108th, and did not
foresee the impact of the loss of confidence in the state, nor the
"demonstration effect" of those popular uprisings across the Arab world.
There are two things that stand out. First all these failed and failing
states have pathetic leadership that focuses on itself, to the exclusion of
the common good. There is not a single state at the bottom of the pile
because of natural disasters such as famine, flooding, or earthquakes.
Yes, these can make already bad situations worse, as they did in Haiti, but
the bottom line is that things can only get out of control because the
leadership really turns the equation upside down and robs citizens of their
dignity by making them into servants and praise-singers.
Second, the states that respect and cherish the human dignity of their
people - by respecting civil, political, economic, and social rights - are
the most stable, hence the Scandinavian countries crowd the top with their
democratic welfare states and good public services.
State stability is about dignity, and as Tunisia, Bahrain and Egypt show us,
it is not enough to think that economic development is enough. People demand
respect of their minds and person. People demand recognition, and people
demand fairness and fair chance at life. Play with those and you are likely
to have instability.
This is not rocket science. So it baffles me why and how the leadership in
Africa can be so blindingly self-centred and egocentric that they don't see
the long-term consequences of their selfish actions, and are so taken by
For how can we justify paying taxes for top earning MPs and not recruit
teachers for public schools? Is it because none of our MPs have children or
grandchildren in public schools?
How can we pay the costs of the people suspected of the most heinous crimes
in the world - guilty or innocent - and still let victims and survivors of
those crimes wallow in misery, pain and fear? How can suspects be more
innocent than victims, for crying out loud, and deserve better treatment?
In fact, how can we even justify that some of these suspects are holding
public offices with these charges over their heads, yet investigations of
corruption always leads to suspension of other public officers?
Of course for ordinary Kenyan suspected of crimes, the result is either
extrajudicial killings by the police or being stoned in mob violence!
Why are we surprised that there are ethnic tensions leading to instability
when reference to "our people" by politicians means purely their ethnic
group to the exclusion of others? Even when they are in national office and
seeking the presidency?
And all this happening when the State has abdicated its role to cater for
the hungry and weak in society to ordinary Kenyans, non-State actors and
corporations who have raised Sh1 billion to help the victims of famine, and
this a famine that could have been prevented with just a little bit of
planning and caring!
These contradictions and the abdication of the State from its duties and
roles provide the foundation for a failed state. And it may not take much,
as we saw in Tunisia with the self immolation of a university educated
hawker tired of being harassed by the authorities while trying to merely
survive as he could not get a job.
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