This is like a give and take situation, karma maybe, but African lawmakers are indeed surrounded by violence – subtle or otherwise. They dish it out to themselves while the law (and I wonder who that is) vents its own on them. However, we might never be able to compare which is greater than which. In any case, violence is no nation’s best friend, if it gets unfair, then it has definitely become unwanted for a healthy and truly civilized society. Violence in the system stems up a ringing question of social justice, how much more in the legislature that should be upholding respect for justice. First of, the law is supreme, no one is above the law, so we want to see how it is that this law which should be supreme and fair has shamelessly been violent and unfair to most lawmakers in Africa; and also how the office of the legislator has been abused.
Violence Against Lawmakers
Maybe the legislators act the way they do because of the political violations and blunders meted out to them by the government. When I say this, I instantly get forced to ask, who now is the government? Who is really in charge? In all fairness, as much as the African legislators have a lot to do to redeem their image, they also are most viable to political violations unlike their counterparts in other regions. If it were completely true and fair enough, would assume that constitutions are just for fancy. As long as our legislators are the typical politicians you teach your children not to be, there is bound to be legal irregularities and violations. The Inter-Parliamentary Union attests that this developmentally backward tendency of violence is becoming alarming in the continent.
1. Arbitrary Detention
You definitely must have heard of people who are victims of being arrested with no warrant or evidence of any kind, and locked away in jail probably to rot and die there. Well the tough skinned African legislators that you know are victims of this too. If you are an ardent lover of Nollywood movies, you will understand this pattern very well. You pose a threat to someone’s ambition or intentions so to say, be sure you are setting yourself up for sooner detraction and humiliation in the political scene.
The world is a blend of both the good and the bad, so while some people are the victims, some others are the villains, simple logic. Arbitrary detention is against both national and international laws but somehow they have their way of being perpetuated without apologies or surprises in the African system. It is highly undemocratic and uncivilized, so if Africa is truly through with the somewhat authoritative leadership we practiced right from our local communities in the past, then we need to embrace fairness to all and sundry, the lawmakers inclusive. From the IPU Report, it is revealed that African Lawmakers are more frequently and extremely attacked in the world.
2. Lack Of Fair Trial
Unlawful detention is an embarrassment of its own, worse, when the hope of finally getting true justice and it gets dashed like a heap of eggs smashed against the wall. Whoever expected this to be the lot of prominent leaders and administrators of the African political scene? These are people who are synonymous to the laws of the state. If for some reason(usually with a political undertone), the trial of a lawmaker becomes a sham, then there is a serious problem. It is a dismal fact that court hearings and judgement are stage-managed to suit certain political intentions. Some have always never seen the good in the call to be a lawmaker.
They are there to represent and speak for us alright, but unfortunately that is no longer the case, it is now the game of whose toes you are not willing to step on, else, you are on your way out of the game.
3. Violation Of Freedom Of Expression
Freedom of Expression is the basic right of every individual who is identified to be part and parcel of a community, society and nation. Without this right we’d all be better off as zombies, unanimously nodding a yes to everything that comes our way. In a democratic environment this is very vital and essential in giving members a sense of belonging and worth. Human beings battle with intra-conflicts, how much more when two or more people meet. There must be a clash before a resolution shows a signal. Unfortunately, not a lot of immature minds can handle this; they hate to be wrong, or see things from a different perspective.
No matter how domineering you are, someone’s view is always going to matter and even challenge yours at some point in time. So, when you infringe or deprive someone of his/her freedom of expression, it is a psychological crime because indirectly, you just said the person is not relevant and has absolutely nothing to offer. If that were the case, then why in the world do you have them as parliamentarians? What do you need them for in the house? Perhaps to fulfill all righteousness? We agree to disagree and disagree to agree as long as it does not amount to violence, purely human, and in fact, healthy. It shows respect for other people’s opinion, in other words acknowledging the importance and relevance of the other person. That, if you ask me is the trait of quality leadership.
4. Violation Of Parliamentary Mandate
There are cases where legislators have been unlawfully suspended and robbed of their rights as lawmakers. From recurrent happenings, one could say there isn’t yet a clear demarcation of the power that leaders wield in their different levels and arms. Everyone seems to be the king of the street. Is there any such thing as conditional criminality? you know like a justification for doing wrong, a necessary evil? Well I think African politics is a labyrinth of confusion and conditional criminality. “Criminality is bad, but if it’s done in the guise of the law, it might as well be made officially legal and an unblemished due course?”, I’m guessing that’s the way the thought goes.
They devise what I like to call a strategic subtle violence against each other. You get caught up in a web you cannot explain and before you even begin to figure it out, you have one foot out of the house. Just like bankers frighteningly sit on the gun powder of job insecurity, so also is the latest nature of the office of a parliamentarian. Perhaps that is the reason for their desperate looting and misappropriation of funds.
See Also: Increase Of Albino Attacks In Tanzania
All of the above mentioned ills done to lawmakers only raises endless burning questions. Is the law really supreme? Are some people actually above the law? How come they literally make the laws but are violated by colleagues who employ means that are completely alien to the law they made? Do they have a set of coded laws that applies to them alone? The concept of ‘Godfatherism’? Which is more supreme, constitution of the state or the constitution of the political parties? I don’t seriously understand how a lawmaker becomes lax and complies to unconstitutional injunctions. Is it really worth it? From the logical perspective, the root of these violations is not far from opposition parties and their machinations to win or have their way at all cost.
To sum it up African political parties lack tangible ideologies(supposing they have) that guide their vision and corresponding actions, they just want to win and be in charge.
Beyond geographical boundaries violations in Africa is evidently present in Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe; with the worst cases in Zambia and Eritrea.
Violence From Lawmakers
It seems the African lawmakers have a way of being in the news for the funniest of reasons. Violence in the legislature is a poor example for a country or continent that is hoping to reach her most positive and productive potentials. Have you imagined the sight of your father throwing objects at his peers in rage, it’s an ugly sight to behold. In every system there are leaders whom the people look up to for direction and possible emulation. Our legislators are part of that group in matters of the state. Unfortunately they seem to jeopardize the reputation of African nations and even their families(assuming they care) by throwing caution to the wind and acting in the highest crudest way expected of a national ambassador (by virtue of his office). Lately there has been reports of violence across the continent over issues that could have been addressed by dialogue and sheer tolerance.
Seeing a lawmaker sleeping through the sessions on national television is not cool but it sure is a lesser evil than turning into beasts of chaos in the house.You watch the news and all you see are flying objects and utter rowdiness in the house, If our dear legislators are not hopping the fence, they are literally busy with fist fights and verbal abuses, what an embarrassment, and we wonder why Africans are gradually adopting the Jungle justice pattern. If lawmakers themselves have no respect for the rule of law and the nation they represent, how will the citizen who has been failed in several aspects by the government take the rule of law seriously.
Sounds a lot like scratching your ear with your elbow, it won’t be a quick possibility to see. We have not seen a considerable reflection of development in the local communities of these constituent ambassadors, now they go the extra mile of turning the house into a free for all fight venue, thus, increasing the people’s utter surprise in the caliber of people they elected(if they really did) into office to represent them. That notwithstanding, the acts of violence in the legislature is not just an African thing, it happens all over the world, but our concern is that the tendency is fast increasing in the African Continent. If they constantly choose to be rubbing the image of the people in the mud, then I suppose it’s time for a reshuffle of the lawmakers, apparently they missed their calling, they should be in the boxing or wrestling rings living true to their dreams.
Just like the Jungle justice traits, the trend of legislative violations also serves as a reflection of a poor justice system. If there was a practical respect for the rule of law, they would resort to the law to prove their constitutional rights, thereby, being an example to the regular man in the street. The truth in all of this, is that these parliamentarians may be the architects of their problems. Who is the law? Who makes the law? How can you uphold the fundamentals of human rights in your constituent when you have no access to one? Giving what you don’t have? I don’t think so. Granted that some have been recognized as sincere patriots and leaders, a bunch of them are there for their own pockets and comfort. In which case, natural justice has a way of giving and executing her verdict.