The People’s Republic: Constitutional basis

CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK

Thirdly, it is our candid view that the amount of money and energy expended in suppressing opposition is far more than will be required to deal effectively with its confrontation in public. Fourthly, while there may be some excuse for the forcible suppression of opposition to socialism in the countries of Eastern Europe, there is not an iota of excuse in most countries of Africa, where capitalism, the propertied aristocracy, and the indigenous capitalists are still in their embryonic or seedling stages, and where the masses of the people and the majority of the educated elements are decidedly socialist- orientated. It would be suicidal not to employ the most powerful and up-to-date gun in tackling a herd of elephants. But it is folly of the most ridiculous kind to use a keg of gunpowder to kill a fly.

Fifthly, socialism, as a normative social objective, is inherently superior to and more attractive than capitalism. Granted the right type of leadership, it will hold its own in a multi-party system more admirably than in a one-party system.

Finally, there is as much competition among various groups in a one-party socialist country as there is in a multi-party capitalist State. The only difference is that in a one-party socialist State, the competition can be far more ruthless and deadly.

SIXTH: With particular reference to Africa, it has been suggested that the masses of the people are not sufficiently enlightened to exercise the vote and choose rightly between two or more contending political parties. They are too backward and too ignorant, so it is argued, to appreciate or comprehend, during an electioneering, where their best interests lie. Very well; then they deserve whatever government they get! Under the principles which we have taken so much care to propound, we are of the considered opinion that it is not only wrong but criminal for any person or group of persons, either by force or stealth, to impose their will on, or substitute their wisdom or discretion for that of, the people.

Our own careful study of the political circumstances obtaining in Africa has led us to the conclusion that, given honest and unselfish political leadership – which is what Africa now badly needs – the masses of the people are quite capable of exercising §ound political judgment. The masses of the people do keenly feel and know their own needs and wants, and can understand any plan designed to meet these needs and wants, if it is carefully and sincerely explained to them. They also know, often intimately, the various individuals who present themselves for election on the platforms of the different political parties. The ability, character, and antecedents of such individual candidates are open books to them. But in spite of all this, they may still be deceived or bribed by unscrupulous politicians to make the wrong choice. If this is done, we have no right to lay the blame for the unpleasant results at the door of the masses. We should instead condemn the political leaders who, for selfish ends, have deliberately misled the masses into voting for the wrong persons. In this circumstance, it is the political leaders that are unfit for democrac, and for the role which they put themselves forward to play. It is unfortunate to blame the simple unsuspecting African voter who, because of extreme poverty, is unable to resist the offer of a gift, in kind or cash, in return for the effortless act of putting a paper into a box …

The truth is bitter, but it must be told, that, so far, Africa has produced more self-seeking leaders than public-spirited ones. Even African civil servants and judges are just as bad. But, thank goodness, the masses of the people remain largely unspoilt and uncorrupted, and are developing fast the technique of differentiating gold from lead and real metal from dross. What is more, they have begun to show their preparedness for very rough action against any political leader who may be caught in the game of public trickery and fraud. But if we are to put an end to the political instability and lack of economic progress which result directly from the evil doings of African political leaders, we must devise some objective means by which their tenure of office can be restricted within honest and unselfish limits. Indeed, the means devised must be such as will compel them always to hold themselves out as the servants and not the masters of the people. In this connection, a rigid code of conduct, written into the constitution, is imperative. In all civilized countries such a code of conduct is usually left to the best judgment of political leaders. But the African political leader has shown that his best judgment in this kind of matter is the most contemptible and abhorrent. The total outlawry of the one-party system is also imperative, because it breeds tenacity of office, corruption, despotism, and social instability.

As we have noted earlier on, there are three organs of government: Executive, Judicial, and Legislative. We have previously demonstrated that these organs are present and discernible in the administration of the affairs of the family unit, and that they are all concentrated in the hands of the paterfamilias.

Here again, it is easy to appreciate that the concentration of all these organs in the hands of one man in a state is bound to lead to tyranny. The holder of such powers is certain to wield them in favour of some -especially his own children, relatives, and friends – to the prejudice of others. In any case, he cannot be expected to have equal affection or consideration for all the members of the community as a paterfamilias would for all the members of his family. Indeed, the possession of an these powers would be more.

CONTINUES NEXT WEEK

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