by Domoina* & Ketakandriana**
Between 2009 and 2012, the global political world has undergone important changes: the Arab Spring has definitely changed the face of politics in Arab world, France passed from Right to Left, the United Kingdom had a new prime minister, Obama came to power and now he’s ending his first mandate. And yet, Madagascar is still under a “transition” that seems to go nowhere, despite three years and a half of crisis. Of course, we could blame politics, international institutions for their non effective support, but maybe we could also blame the Malagasy people?
Malagasy are assumed to be resigned people who easily accept their fate, despite how appalling and hopeless it can be at times. Unfortunately, this assumption is validated if we look at all the critical aspects of the prevailing political crisis which started in 2009 with Rajoelina’s ascension to power. Three years of political crisis, of tensions between the population and the armed forces, of protests and economic recession, of unemployment and growing poverty, this is the alarming picture representing the current situation. But Malagasy people are holding their breath; they seem to be okay with the situation even if they are hungry and even if their kids don’t go to schools because of unpaid public teachers. They are waiting for a miracle, a sudden revival.
Well, as for revivals, we have seen some interesting ones. New election dates have been presented – mid-2013. It looks like we will be living another year under a “transition”. Such speculations are not new, and hopefully the involvement of SADC and the United Nations could make things work. A month ago, the two belligerents Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana, the former president, met in the Seychelles, but nothing came out of that meeting; another déjà-vu. That same week, a mutiny was organized in a military camp.
On the other hand, daily life is dangerously slipping into chaos. A subtle, silent and terrible chaos to the extent that we have forgotten what normality means. Daily stories of politicians looting national resources are heard here and there. They keep a firm hand on power, and any reaction is now treated as a rebellion. Unelected parliament members are still voting new laws they don’t really care about. The corruption rate has dramatically increased. Insecurity has become normal, in both urban and rural areas. Weary of the actions of huge groups of bandits (called daholo) and the incapacity of the army to control them, villagers in the South of Madagascar have killed dozen of dahalo in terrible ways, through mob justice. The 2011-2012 university year has just begun whereas it now should be the 2012-2013 school year. Prices of staple foods, water and electricity continue to increase. Too many people are not eating three meals a day anymore, and if one gets sick, they have to choose carefully where to go because some public hospitals are on strike.
Where is the government? What is it doing? The defacto transitional government has now been in power for over three and a half years, and Rajoelina’s genuine will to change things is still questionable. At least, he knows how to entertain, and of course we know to whom he is taking after! His DJ background can serve! During one month, the de facto government has scheduled various entertainment events for celebrating the country’s 52th Independence Day. Liters of alcohol have been sold near Antananarivo‘s law court, as well as various funfairs, music concerts and the annual and highly expensive fireworks. On the D-day, thousands of people attended the armed forces’ parade in Mahamasina and aerobatics have been scheduled to entertain the public. Another big concert has been organized before building a new rugby stadium.
Can politicians buy our souls and hearts with a handful of fireworks, facsimile soldiers (even in beautiful uniforms) and successive concerts? Don’t we have, as citizens and patriots, the right to protest and the duty to claim the end of this ridiculous situation? Although Madagascar is not making news headlines anymore, and probably many have forgotten what happened in Madagascar, we would like to shout out the silent sides of that coup in 2009, and all the consequences that have followed. Things are falling apart here! Someone is messing with our heads! Things need to change.
Someone says that every good thing has an end, and so do bad stories like this! Hopefully.
*Domoina Rakotoson, is a former student in African Studies from Ohio University. She is leading a capacity building project for conservation educators and practitioners in Madagascar.
**Ketakandrian Rafitoson is a jurist and political activis. She is involved in several civil society organizations to promote democracy and youth and women political participation in Madagascar.