Presently many ordinary people are in a dilemma as to whether European colonialists divided them more than what has happened under indigenous authorities in post-independent Africa. One thing is, however, clear in their minds. The sentiments of oneness which colonialism had created in the minds of nationalist Africans are rapidly disappearing and instead, fragmentation, mistrust, and poverty are on the increase.
On Saturday, Senegalese lawmakers approved a constitutional reform to scrap the position of prime minister, the first initiative of President Macky Sall's second term in office. President Sall has been in power since 2012. He comfortably regained his seat last February having secured 58 percent of the popular vote.
President Sall is an unapologetic man. He never shies away from any fight and in his own words, he is "yet to meet a challenge that has subdued him." Just like a bulldog that will never let go of a bone once it has in its jaws, the self-proclaimed social liberal has a single-minded approach to leadership which his critics have only been too eager to fault him for. They argue that President Sall is a one-man show who runs the country like his own personal business. They contend that President Sall is someone who is "willing to circumvent the rules, change them, or flagrantly disregard them altogether if it will get him what he wants. He believes that the end justifies the means."
This is not surprising given that in his youth, President Sall had toyed with Maoist ideologies which generally focus on how to hold onto power as opposed to how to serve people. Many who ascribe to Maoist ideologies believe that power comes from the barrel of the gun and not from the ballot box.
In early April, President Sall announced his plan to abolish the office of the prime minister by telling the prime minister Mohammed Boun Abdallah Dionne, to abolish his own job.
Despite the prime minister's dissatisfaction with President Sall's plan, it was approved by the government in April before sending it to the National Assembly where the presidential party enjoys a majority. President Sall's move came as a surprise as it had not been part of his re-election campaign.
According to the President of the National Assembly, Moustapha Niasse, the motion for abolishing the prime minister's position was passed with 124 MPs voting in favour and only seven against.
In an interesting twist, the lawmakers also backed legislative changes which not only preclude them from tabling a motion of no confidence against the government but also prevent the president from dissolving the National Assembly.
Ideally, the world over, the credibility of Parliament has always been anchored upon its oversight role over the executive or the government of the day. Given the fact that lawmakers draw their mandate from the electorate, it is expected that they ought to act in the best interests of the citizenry which is not often the case. What good is an oversight body if it cannot carry out its responsibilities? The idea that a sitting Parliament has willingly tied its hands behind its back and given a power-hungry government such a big leeway to do as it so chooses without consequences is indeed a worrying trend that should be nipped in the bud before it becomes the blueprint for many others.
It is for this very reason that opposition parties have denounced the constitutional amendments arguing that they are tantamount to a betrayal of public trust. According to Toussaint Manga, leader of an opposition group founded by supporters of former President Abdoulaye Wade,
It's a democratic setback. You can't concentrate powers in the hands of one person."
Justice Minister Malick Sall was, however, quick to defend the amendments stating that they were "purely technical and administrative".
"The goal is not to increase the powers of the president of the republic," the Justice Minister told MPs.
Some Opposition leaders have asserted that President Sall is a dictator in the making. Many residents have mixed feelings. While there are some who support him, there are plenty more who think that his leadership is tyrannical and he has retarded the country's development. They argue that colonialism of Africans by their fellow Africans who yester years cried foul play when European imperialists dehumanised them has become a bitter pill to swallow because their trust has been betrayed.
Header Image Credit: Dakar7