Zimbabwean state security agents have seized a consignment of a new book written by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) deputy chairperson Tendai Biti, which were destined for its launch in the country on Thursday.
The seizure, the second in two wekks, resulted in the delay of the launch of the book titled ‘Democracy Works: Turning Politics To Africa’s Advantage’, co-authored by Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills.
Obasanjo apologized to the audience about the delay in launching the book, saying most people could not get the book after it was seized at the Robert Mugabe International Airport.
He said, “We are sorry for the delay in launching this book as this was not of our own making. We wanted all of you to have a copy of our book but that’s not the case. We are not sure whether you will manage to get the book …”
Information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana, who is currently in Namibia, said he had no details of the seizure of the book, adding that he will pursue the matter.
The book was launched in Zimbabwe by the Southern Africa Political Economy Series (SAPES) Trust run by Dr. Ibbo Mandaza, a political scientist.
Eighteen copies of the book were seized by the spy network, the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) last week.
In a tweet, Biti questioned the intentions of the CIO. "We were ridiculously asked to pay duty, which we did. Now the president's office, a euphemism for the CIO, has abducted these books. Who does this?"
Democracy Works explores ways in which people can learn to nurture, deepen and consolidate democracy in Africa. The book further addresses political, economic and extreme demographic challenges that Africa faces.
Some people who have read the book believe that it addresses some of the fundamental issues facing African nations.
Reviewing the book, former Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn said, “Ethiopia shows – as does this handbook for democrats – that democracy and development are indivisible.”
It has also been reviewed by Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado, who said, “Democracy is essential to governance, the rule of law and economic well-being. In Venezuela, we know to our cost what happens when democracy dies – we die with it. I urge all those concerned with the state of their nation to read Democracy Works, and act on its findings.”
Author Mills directs the Brenthurst Foundation, Obasanjo was president of Nigeria (1999-2007) and chairperson of the African Union (2004-2006), Biti is a constitutional lawyer, human rights activist, and former Zimbabwe finance minister and Herbst is president of the American Jewish University, Los Angeles.
Professor Herbst, who is a political scientist, taught at Princeton University for 18 years and is the author of ‘States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control’ and many other books and articles. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Board of Freedom House and has served on the advisory board of The Brenthurst Foundation since 2005.