By Gershom Ndhlovu
This week I reproduce reactions to last week’s column entitled “NEPAD is dead.”
“Yet today, boatloads of Africans from almost all countries perilously float on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea hoping to land on the shores of European countries for a better life when the continent can adequately provide for its peoples if only with a determined leadership not driven by kleptomania,” I wrote in the same column.
I think, writes a reader signing himself as MrK, kleptomania is just a symptom, because it is part of a system.The system works like this. 1) Western corporations own Africa's natural resources2) African politicians willing to facilitate this exploitation of their country and people are cannonized. 3) Corruption, mismanagement, brutality are overlooked and are (for instance) not cause for the IMF or World Bank to stop lending to these regimes - why not? Because it is irrelevant to them. Just as dead white farmers in Zimbabwe OR South Africa are irrelevant to them. The only thing that gets them excited is when someone breaks ranks and says 'I will not implement your Structural Adjustment Programme or sell off state assets. 4) Anyone who says no to the IMF (Kenneth Kaunda, Robert Mugabe) has their economy destroyed by a cut off of foreign exchange to their country. The way out of this position, is to make sure that our economies consist of a myriad of local economies that trade with each other especially regionally, instead of producing for distant foreign markets. Profits from the mines should be used to build infrastructure and lower taxes. I hope you have read my Manifesto for Economic Transformation (http://maravi.blogspot.com). I would like to see it as a living document…. Unlike NEPAD, it contains very practical suggestions for improving our economies in a self-sustaining and self-perpetuating way, continuing for centuries to come. If for instance the World Bank demanded that- 50% of national revenues was handed to local government- all government expenditures and income are monitoredwe would be in a completely different situation today. I also discuss land and agrarian reform, and of course the mines, which are Zambia's economic lifeblood and future.
Another reader, signing himself as Cho, wrote:
“I always thought NEPAD was doomed to fail. Everyone knows what needs to happen for Africa to develop. What is lacking is political will.“Change in Africa will take time. It took years before Western nations embraced democratic ideals.”
I agree entirely with the observations by the two readers whose comments appeared on my blog, http://gndhlovu.blogspot.com. Even as delegates from all over Africa gathered in Libya last week to discuss the possibility of a United States of Africa, there are a lot of issues that need to be tackled. First and foremost, is changing the mindset of African leaders and tuning them to acceptable democratic principles and practices.
Some of the champions of the U.S of Africa do not allow even as much as a cough of dissent among their citizens. One therefore wonders how they would fit in the larger continental picture which is expected to be democratic and open.
There is also the issue of structure. Are we talking in terms of an American type U.S.A where there is a sole president with the rest as governors, or are we talking of a European Union-type of structure where nations retain much of their sovereignty?
There is also the issue of economic control. It is a notorious fact that the majority of African countries are poor. The question arises of who takes the overall control of economic and political resources, is it a chap from a country oozing with poverty or the more affluent guy who can even stand up to the West and its Bretton Woods Institutions?
Last but by no means least, today’s African leaders lack the genuine continental patriotism that was exhibited by Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure, Haile Sellasie, Ben Bella, Kaunda and other founding fathers who were the nemesis of the colonialists.—firstname.lastname@example.org.