By Professor Oweyegha-Afunaduula

There is no doubt that the rulers of Africa, many overstayed, are greatly worried about the new wave of the coup malaise in the 21st century. But the international community too is concerned.

In September 2021 the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, voiced concern that coups are back and blamed lack of unity amongst the international community, but also talked of a sense of impunity taking hold.

Africa’s Longest Serving Presidents

In the 20th Century, overthrowing governments governments was most pronounced in the 1960s, soon after many African countries obtained political independence from their former colonial masters. In some countries such as Nigeria, coups were a frequent menu in their sociopolitical cultures.

It was as if they were a contagious phenomenon. The reasons for the coups from one country to another were similar, and could be summed up as failure to deliver, corruption, extrajudicial killings, injustice, oppression. greed and selfishness of leaders, overstaying in power and dictatorship.

Of course it is difficult not to be a dictator if you are a ruler with the resolve to hold onto power at all costs. There have been African rulers who have have held onto power for 30 and more years and some have either been thrown out of power or threatened by coups.

An article by Patrick J. McGowan “African Military Coups de tat, 1956-2001): frequency, trends and distribution”, in The Journal of Modern African Studies , Vol. 41, No. 3 (Sept) 2003 pp 333-370, it is recorded that there were 80 successful coups, 108 failed coups and 139 reported coup plots. A recent American study of coup de tats in Africa put them at 200 since 1950, half of them successful.

The question is: are coups really coming back in the 21st Century. Since August 2920 there have been 5 coup de tats: in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali and Susan. The Niger and Guinea Bissau coups would have made the number 7 if they had succeeded.

That can indeed worry rulers who become more and more distanced from the people they claim to lead, but it can also worry those who want to become leaders.

Many try to ward off coups by frequent promotions of the soldiers and improvements of their emoluments, but increasingly pay decreasing attention to the issues of concern to the people: quality education, health and agriculture, humanizing salaries and wages and good price for the crops of farmers.

In Uganda farmers have been left to middlemen to exploit, there is no minimum wage for workers, and improvements in salaries are only for the top workers in the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary, leaving the majority of workers grossly discontented.

That the wave of coups in Africa are worrying detectable in the minds of some of the Continent’s overstayed rulers. The first among them to express concern publicly was President Tibuhaburwa Museveni, who has ruled Uganda uninterruptedly for 36 years.

He was so concerned that he was able to convince some of his colleagues to convene in the capital city of Congo Brazzaville to hatch a united effort against the wave of coups on the Continent.

It was, therefore, no surprise, that the Congo Brazzaville meeting resulted in Sassou Ngueso, a very overstayed ruler, and Tibuhaburwa Museveni coming up with the idea of African Global Security Foundation, which they actualized by setting up a Secretariat to boost intelligence cooperation.

It was also not surprising that President Tibuhaburwa Museveni convinced his colleague that Amama Mbabazi, his erstwhile colleague in NRM, former Prime Minister of Uganda and his challenged in the 2016 Presidential Elections to be the first boss of the foundation.

It is, however, important to emphasize that coup Ms do not take place because there is no intelligence. Coups occur because of the reasons listed above.

Amama Mbabazi has started well by condemning torture in Uganda. However torture will not stop until President Tibuhaburwa Museveni himself takes action. When he took action on the killing of girls in Entebbe, the killings that claimed nearly 30 people, stopped.

When he took action against the killing of old people with machetes in Masaka stopped. Amama Mbabazi will be more relevant to Africans, not by gathering intelligence about looming coups but by convincing rulers to act on the universal causes of coups in Africa. Intelligence reports will be made for those in power but not for the people who suffer the excesses and failures of rulers.

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