12st Sep 2008 02:01 GMT
YOU cannot rule it out completely: there could be pot-bellied VIPs in
unnamed African capitals ordering a number of soothsayers or shamans or
spirit mediums, or - to give them their original title - witchdoctors, to
ensure Barack Obama wins the United States presidential election next
Most of this is pure speculation, some of it cooked up by the Ku Klux Klan
to besmirch Obama's reputation with rumours of his attachment to the
purveyors of Black Magic.
The logic is, of course, that with Obama in the White House, all African
leaders will expect to be given free rein by the US government. Zimbabwe,
for instance, would expect so-called sanctions to be lifted immediately
after Obama's inauguration in January. Robert Mugabe would follow this up
with a State visit to the US, not only to congratulate the new president,
but to sound him out on political asylum.
His relief would not be so overwhelming that he would anticipate his
continued occupation of State House in Harare for any length of time
exceeding a few months.
The more pragmatic dictators - of which there are few, strange as it may
seem - still firmly believe Obama will, first and foremost, be the president
of the USA, not the Honorary President of the other USA, Muammar Gaddaffi's
United States of Africa.
The Libyan leader last week signed a deal with the Italians for US$5 billion in reparations for their long, cruel and bloody occupation of his country in
the 20th century.
Gaddaffi is one leader who would benefit from a "nice" attitude from President Obama. He might propose that Obama pay his first foreign state visit to Libya, where he would be feted lavishly as the first US president to officially endorse the Libyan dictator's grand plan for a United States
of Africa, of which he would, naturally be president.
A few months ago, he invited African politicians, journalists and other
customarily impecunious political wannabes, to Tripoli where he planned to
have them endorse his proposed USA, before a crucial conference of the
African Union. They were to campaign for the project at the summit in Accra.
The plan flopped and his USA project is still alive only in his imagination.
But with the largesse from the guilt-ridden Italians, Gaddaffi can be expected to relaunch his campaign afresh.
In Zimbabwe, few people expect any such interference in the running of the
country by Mugabe and the people who surround him today and are believed to be living off what is left of the fat of the land.
It is still difficult to justify such support for people like Idi Amin or
Macias Nguema or Joseph Mobutu. Today, it is still a mystery why both Sadc and the African Union find very little ground on which to demand the expulsion of Mugabe's regime from their councils.
The US law which calls for Zimbabwe to regularise its adherence to
democratic norms, in exchange for a massive aid package, has always been seen by the Mugabe regime as something which it would agree to only if it forsook its sovereignty, surrendering it to Uncle Sam.
Yet how much is this sovereignty worth in terms of how Zimbabwe has allowed
its economy to be controlled by China? Beijing is a newcomer to foreign direct investment.
As a basically communist political and economic government, it has dispensed with most of the niceties adopted by the capitalist world.
Angola, with is oil wealth, has virtually surrendered its own sovereignty to
the Chinese. What is now appreciated is that most of the wealth accruing from the links between the two countries has benefited only a few fat cats in Luanda.
President Eduardo dos Santos' daughter is one of the most prosperous entrepreneurs today. She flaunts her wealth shamelessly, according to a recent report. Elections are due this week and are being touted as the first democratic plebiscite for years.
The country emerged from a civil war, in which its major instigator was Jonas Savimbi, who came to a nasty end before he could achieve any of what
he perceived as his cherished goals.
Dos Santos critics must have reacted with smirks when he offered Mugabe advice on democracy. After this week's elections, Dos Santos is likely to conduct himself the way Mugabe did after his 27 June election farce.
Reports from Luanda say the ground has been set for a massively rigged election. Dos Santos is a product of a liberation movement, as Mugabe, Thabo
Mbeki and Jacob Zuma are. These men's respect for democracy as it is understood in its purest form is something you have to search for with a microscope.
Obama could hardly afford to intimate to the American people that he harbours any sympathies for such leaders. His profile includes a capacity for political combat which some have characterised as being ruthless, with no holds barred.
But everyone seems to stop short of accusing him of engaging in bare-faced chicanery, or the sort of political skulduggery which men such as Mbeki, Zuma, Mugabe, dos Santos and Gaddafi would find perfectly permissible.
For the United States, an Obama victory would signal the emergence of a system of government which rejects racism and bigotry and cherishes only
honesty, hard work and faithful and dedicated service to the people.
All this will sound entirely mealy-mouthed to people who know politics for what it has been for thousands of years.a very dirty business indeed.
But throughout history there have emerged men and women, as politically fallible as many others, who performed their duties with such remarkable fair-mindedness, even their critics conceded a grudging admiration for them.
Obama could be that catalyst for change, prophesied by people such as Martin
Luther King Jnr. That great icon's dream could be about to be realised.