“opposition” is certainly the most misunderstood word in [the] African political context and practice; if it is at all remotely understood, it is certainly misapplied, if not abused. However, going by all indications, it is safe to say that “opposition” is misunderstood and thus misapplied and abused firstly by those who claim to be in the “opposition“; and secondly and certainly by those they claim to oppose, those in power – the government – who take it as an opportunity to do the most damage possible on the[ir] “opposition“.
The way “opposition” is used and applied in the African political context is such that it means (to be) disagreeable and confrontational rather than, say, disagreeable with whatever that doesn’t lead to – or deviates from – seeking consensus. That is, to find a middle ground on whichever everyone, at least, feels their demands, on whatever the issues in contention, are not being accommodated.
In effect, because of this misunderstanding which then leads to being stubbornly disagreeable and confrontational rather than consensual; the “opposition“, more often than not, seeks to address issues in such a way that either genuinely threatens or, at least, appears or gives the impression to threaten those in power or those to whom it is opposed: the government. Consequently, such aggressive behaviour prompts those to whom opposition is directed, into a defensive mode and act in such a way that they treat the “opposition” as the enemy to be totally crushed and obliterated.
The overall effect is that there’s very little effort and interest, if any, from either side for consensus – in collective national interests – to address national issues or rectify whatever is not working as it ought to be or might have gone wrong.
This attitude, therefore, makes it possible and leads to the unfortunate political practice of putting people into narrow but dangerous categories of little tight duo boxes of “us” and “them” and subsequently judged on the basis of: if you aren’t with us, you are against us. Likewise, if you are against us, the conclusion is, too often false, you are therefore with them, that is, those conveniently deemed as the ‘enemies’.
This unfortunate and unnecessary dichotomy allows for a myopic nonetheless dangerous attitude, mainly from those in power – the government – of not accommodating and thus rejecting all views, however constructive or unconstructive they might be, from the opposition, and vice versa.
This is the absurdity that is afflicting African politics and in the process, wreaking unnecessary havoc and misery prevalent on the continent. And in some way – one might argue – which gives other people, particularly those who falsely feel or simply for expedient purposes to jerk up their own inadequate moral spirits, that they have a moral obligation to us – hapless Africans – and our lives than we do ourselves. The feeling and/or right to lecture, if not dictate, to us on how we ought to conduct our affairs, political and/or otherwise.
The major threat to politics and perhaps the major cause for the antipathy from the masses towards politics and politicians; and very typical of political expediency and dishonesty, is for the politicians to try to convince, with lies of course, and therefore get the average person [masses] to believe that their – the politicians’ – own individual political achievements and advancement; represents the achievements and advancement of [for] the average person and the masses.
This particular attitude towards politics by politicians and the largely self-serving quasi-eurocentric and colonially falsified bourgeois class in Africa, is the major cause of Africa’s endemic and cyclic socio-economic and political predicament.
We must work tirelessly to abandon confrontational, and in many cases, violent political opposition in African politics and embrace consensual opposition politics, accommodate constructive views through civilised dialogue, debates while collectively but respectfully challenging views that are divisive.