Numerous people have asked me for my thoughts regarding revolutionary governments.
Indeed, Africa has seen numerous governments come to power through revolutions - some relatively peaceful, some very violent. Invariably, the scars of the revolution remain and left unattended can result in an uprising of the populace or even a counter-revolution.
Without exception, every revolutionary government I have come into contact with is already politically and economically fragile with growing security and stability challenges. Without acknowledging their fragility and taking the necessary actions to strengthen the Pillars of State, they find themselves on the road to failure.
Some of these revolutions have been internally motivated and some inspired and motivated by foreign interests. Regardless of how they came to power, most African revolutionary governments have similar characteristics. Failure to manage these characteristics can result in the government becoming a failed state.
Many of these governments believe that stability and economic growth “will improve” over time. It seldom does.
As these governments tend to be caught up in the moment, they miss the numerous threats and challenges facing them – until it is almost too late. This failure results in them ultimately being forced to fight several fires on numerous fronts with little if any significant impact.
The lack of substantial visible improvements to their lot is usually viewed by the populace as an inability of the government – or even a lack of interest - to provide them with much needed security and stability. This is especially prevalent in the early days of a revolutionary government.
It is, however, the characteristics of a revolutionary government that define its initial weaknesses. I view these characteristics and weaknesses as follows:
1. An over optimistic view of the future
2. A belief that the majority of the populace share their visions for the future
3. A lack of strategic, operational and tactical intelligence
4. Lack of – or a fractured grand strategy
5. Lack of – or a fractured national security strategy
6. Lack of an acceptable Constitution
7. A weak central government
8. Fragmented powerbases
9. Fragmented popular support
10. Porous borders
11. A lack of basic services
12. A breakdown of law and order coupled to an increase in general and organised crime
13. The uncontrolled flow of weapons
14. Strong militia groups, each with their own agenda
15. Disunity of the security forces coupled to questionable loyalty
16. The polarisation of popular support that can result in assassinations, bombings, protests etc.
17. A lack of cohesion, communication and cooperation between the security forces
18. An increase in Internally Displaced People (IDPs)
Left unattended, these characteristics/weaknesses will result in an increase in negative media reporting, both locally and internationally as both the mainstream and social media exploit the situation. This negative perception results in a lack of inward investments, depriving the new government of much needed foreign investment and economic growth. This creates a ripple-effect across the population and often results in the populace becoming poorer than they were before the revolution.
Additionally, this creates the climate for a counter-revolution to be planned and launched by disgruntled militia groups and sectors of the previous regimes supporters. The counter-revolution will often manifest itself through acts of terror such as assassinations, bombings, an increase in violent crime, attacks against the leadership of the security forces and threats against the political and business leadership.
This volatile situation “empowers Salesmen to impersonate Statesmen” (credit to “Lionberger”s comment on my posting “The Specialists”) who simply add fuel to the fire as these salesmen- with no track record of success - dispense their bad advice at great financial and political cost to the government. Equally unforgivable is the selling of security equipment to these governments that will have little if any use to securing the State.
Until revolutionary governments acknowledge and manage/rectify their weaknesses and find the correct people to advise and assist them, they will remain fragile and position themselves on the cusp of failure.