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Honest religion, and elections, seem a far-off dream in Africa



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Pastor Alph Lukau is the envy of every seed pastor and snake oil salesman in Africa.

He has performed a miracle of rare complexity and massive publicity impact. He will certainly drown in tithe.

Pastor Alph of Alleluia Ministries International, near Johannesburg, has declared and demonstrated to his considerable following, victory over death itself. He, to the consternation of the continent, has raised the dead.

He prayed, shouted, and pressed the ribs of a “corpse”, appropriately dressed in casket whites, which then sat up, gasping like fish out of water and walked with the theatrical fixed stare and stiffness of a zombie invented by Hollywood.

The funeral homes which provided the casket, hearse and other props are suing the church for ‘image damage’ caused by the “stunt”.

Pastor Alph is, of course, not the first African to raise the dead. In electoral contests, feats of such magnitude are performed quite often.

Take the example of DR Congo. The alleged former president of that country, Mr Joseph Kabila, pulled a miracle in front of our very eyes.

The country went into an election on December 30, 2018, after two full years of Mr Kabila trying to find an excuse not to go into an election in which he was disqualified from running.

Mr Martin Fayulu was widely expected to win. Among opposition figures, he stood head and shoulders above the rest and there had been moves to declare him the joint candidate.

He appeared to enjoy the goodwill of regional and continental figures, notably Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. Various indicated that it was not a question of if but by what margin.

On January 10, 2019, Mr Felix Tshisekedi sat bolt upright in the ballot box and, gasping for breath like a fish out of water, took zombie steps towards power.

The National Independent Electoral Commission declared him the winner with 38 percent of the vote, relegating Mr Fayulu to second place with 34 percent.

The candidate from Mr Kabila’s constellation of parties, Mr Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, came a distant third with 23 percent.

Data reportedly leaked out of the electoral commission was said to show that Mr Fayulu won easily, with 59 percent, and Mr Tshisekedi polled a paltry 19 percent and Mr Shadary 18 percent.

Yet another leak gave Mr Fayulu victory with 62 percent, Mr Tshisekedi 15 percent and Shadary 17 percent.

Working with opinion polling data, African Arguments found the probability of Mr Tshisekedi winning 38 percent of the vote as 0.0000.

In other words, impossible. This, then, was a miracle worthy of Alleluia Ministries International.

In Nigeria, we shall not say much — only to congratulate the ‘pastor’ who was in charge of the miracles there.

I have heard complaints that votes were allocated, not won. I don’t know what votes they were talking about. I thought the voters refused to turn out.

A friend of mine in the butterfly trade drew the attention of his followers on Twitter recently to another miracle: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria is seeking his fifth term.

Bouteflika has not spoken in public since 2013 and won the election in 2014 without campaigning.

That a man who cannot speak not only wins an election but governs a country ranks with Pastor Alph’s feat as a great African miracle.

I wonder how long it’s going to take Africa to do honest religion — and elections.

The level of corruption going on in the Jubilee government has not been seen in the history of this country.

Sometimes I wonder whether we should be reporting the corrupt projects, which is like all of them, or the handful that are honest and well-intended.

Right from Eurobond 1, all the way to the farcical seasonal expenditure of billions of shillings to buy maize — even though the National Cereals and Produce Board is meant to sell its stock and use the proceeds to buy fresh maize — Jubilee will go down in history as the regime during which corruption moved from being a serious threat to complete madness.

This year, if I recall well, the government has a Sh3 trillion budget. It hopes and prays that it will collect Sh1.7 trillion in taxes.

Out of that, Sh962 billion will be gobbled up by Jubilee’s (in) famous loans, most of which have gone straight into private accounts in Dubai and Macau, the Chinese casino haven, from what we hear.

I wonder whether the crackdown on corruption is making a dent on these numbers. If it is not, we are going to have going-concern discussions with the Chinese pretty soon.

I think the government is missing the point. It is not enough for the corruption to stop, which it will not.

Many hyenas, even with the crackdown, seem to believe that it is still safe to steal from the public. For justice to be done and for the economy to have a fighting chance, stolen money must be recovered.

And the public must continue believing that the fight against corruption is serious and effective; otherwise Jubilee will have a going-concern discussion of its own.