|Africans are their own enemies|
|Thursday, 19 April 2012 21:28|
Some wrote with open minds whilst others wrote with shut minds. Some comments were very logical and showed a lot of depth, a few were quite humourous, others were highly emotionally charged whilst some were completely shallow and lacking in depth.
Criticism makes us reflect on what we write about, it opens up new avenues of thought bringing in fresh ideas and it also gives writers an insight into the divergent thoughts of those who read their articles. We greatly appreciate the interest our article drew amongst Malawians.
Africa is truly in need of an enlightened citizenry which is well versed in international politics and economic relations if it is to survive this Western onslaught based on brain washing, propaganda, outright lies and the myth of white superiority.
The major issues which were highlighted by most of the disgruntled Malawians were nepotism, tribalism, patronage politics and corruption, politicians failing to walk the talk and poor service delivery. It is through some of these genuine grievances raised by ordinary Malawians that African leaders should learn to deliver on their promises to the masses.
The people, as we have always argued in most of our instalments deserve a better life under any political system. However, as we agree with some of the pertinent issues raised by most Malawians we totally disagree that foreign aid can solve Africa’s economic problems.
Donor funding should be directed to viable projects which will help in sustaining people’s lives. Funding can be channelled to construction of dams, provision of irrigation equipment, expansion of education facilities at all levels, construction of roads and bridges, making healthcare available to all etc.
However, most donors are not very much willing to teach us how to fish so that we can eat for the rest of our life. They are only interested in giving us fish so that we can only eat for one day. The ugly truth is that donor funds are not the panacea for any country’s development.
BigMan from Malawi clearly captures our line of argument when he says that most of us just look at how much flour we have in our homes and would happily embrace anything from the West that guarantees us a few crumbs.
This is the mentality that we as Africans should do away with. We should grow enough wheat as to have enough flour rather than to depend on foreigners for such basics. You can never be a free people if all your basic needs as outlined by Maslow in his hierarchy of needs are coming from donors.
John Perkins argues that the West has a real stake in keeping Africa poor. The concepts of aid and development are simply tools in the arsenal of the West, wielded not for the sake of charity but for the sake of control. A donor funded state is a very weak, vulnerable and economically and politically insecure entity. The continent should partner with genuine investors who will assist it in developing a sound industrial and agricultural base.
African people should benefit immensely from the wealth of their country. Leaders who abuse public funds should be made accountable for such misdeeds. Never should Africans allow a breed of leaders who stash away billions of dollars in foreign accounts for their own benefit at the expense of the poor masses.
Africa in this 21st century should never be hoodwinked by the white world that their aid is meant for the continent’s development. Tell us of an African country which developed through handouts or what Dr Tafataona Mahoso terms “chema” fund.
Latin America saw through this Western thread bare lie of aid for development. The former South African president, Thabo Mbeki strongly argues that Africa does not need aid but what it needs is fair trade. Former president of Ghana, John Kuffuor, in his article “Renaissance: Dream or reality?” clearly points out that no longer must our leaders succumb to our trading partners for the fancy of it.
None of those seeking our resources are doing so just for the love of Africa. They are coming for the financial benefits. It is the duty of African leaders to ensure that the interests of the continent are upheld or even bettered.
To my Malawian friends — if the Western countries truly wanted to see a stable, developed Africa, the continent would have been far much developed than Japan and South Korea. If the West really wanted genuine development in Africa, they could have given the continent the same type of aid America gave Europe after the Second World War for its economic recovery.
Why is it that the Western countries are not giving Africa the same developmental aid that they gave Japan and South Korea? However, that will never happen as long as the West is benefitting extensively from Africa’s cheap labour and agricultural products as well as its abundant natural resources.
Latin American dependency theorist Andre Gunder Frank actually argued extensively on the dangers of foreign aid to developing countries.
Frantz Fanon suggested that Africa should take its own development path. African leaders should take the first step in the thousand mile journey to economic development. China did not just wake up one day as the world’s second largest economy.
The path taken by the Chinese to achieve such economic power was torturous and hectic yet little by little they struggled on. True development does not come on a silver platter. You toil, sweat and struggle for it. It’s only false development that comes through fake generosity that some amongst us will defend with their short-sighted convictions as they end up hating those leaders who are brave enough to think outside the neo-liberal development box.
Few leaders in Africa have been bold enough to take a new path in empowering the disadvantaged masses. The story of Rosa Parks is a good example of a very brave African-American woman who stood for what she believed in and this is what African leaders should emulate.
Rosa sat near the middle of the bus, just behind the 10 seats reserved for whites. Soon all of the seats in the bus were filled. When a white man entered the bus, the driver who was following the standard practice of segregation, insisted that all four blacks sitting just behind the white section give up their seats so that the man could sit there.
Mrs Parks quietly refused to give up her seat. Nothing will ever change unless we change it. Rosa Parks initiated a new era in the American quest for freedom and equality. Enlightened African leaders and their people need to initiate a new era in their strong quest for economic freedom.
The skewed economic set up in Africa will never change unless African leaders and their people say enough is enough. The poor and underprivileged in most independent African countries are now demanding opportunities for a decent living.
The radical approach which is premised on complete change of the status quo has thus brought tension between the Zimbabwean opposition parties and nationalist parties due to conflicting policies on distribution of wealth and resources and also ownership of private property.
We strongly believe that there is no economic approach that is truer, more accurate, or more valid than any other economic plan.
Therefore, the opposition parties cannot tell us that their economic blueprint is the best. Every view we believe, is as good as another. What could be more irritating than to have someone claim to know, better than others, what others believe?
After all, our visions and imaginations are the most personal things about us. Another person might claim to know, that the subject of our belief or vision is incorrect — but it does not seem logical that he or she could claim to know, better than we know ourselves, what we have faith in or envision.
It will be quite interesting to carry out research based on whether blacks who worked in Rhodesian factories and mines ever earned enough money to start their own businesses or to acquire enough wealth as to be part of the white Rhodesian middle or upper class.
Charles Mavhunga sees indigenisation as a vision that is targeted at creating an enabling environment to increase the participation of the indigenous people in the major economic activities of the country. African leaders should not fear to venture into the unknown. Leaders need to be visionary and ready to take risks.
The job creation policy being peddled by some sections of Zimbabwean society cannot create indigenous millionaires. Right now, pensioners are being given a paltry US$25 after working loyally for a company for 40 or more years. The pensioner as well as those he is looking after can merely survive from such pittance.
Had these people been considered as equal partners in the companies, industries, factories and mines they worked for surely they wouldn’t be suffering that much queuing every month at the bank for a paltry pension of US$40? Can that meagre amount of money sustain a pensioner and his family?
Indigenisation does not only end up with job creation but it also assures the worker of a modest life after retirement. What’s wrong with benefiting from a company’s profits long after retiring? What’s wrong with mining companies giving a percentage of their profits directly to the community they are operating in?
What’s wrong with blacks employing other blacks in various companies? What’s wrong with the State demanding 51 percent ownership of mineral resources being extracted underground by foreign companies? What can be horribly wrong is when indigenisation turns into a policy that makes the first to be first and the last to be last.
True indigenisation should see to it that the first are last and the last are first. Why should Africans be just labourers, working, sweating and toiling only to benefit a few foreigners? Africans should desist from being their worst enemies.
The indigenisation programme is a visionary developmental path which is seen as a vehicle of empowering the disadvantaged masses.
China and India took their own development path and thanks to such visionary leadership their economies are doing quite well. Leaders should not fear to look at alternative models or even to come up with their own models of development as to improve their people’s lives rather than to over rely on failed Western recycled models of development.
China and Brazil never quit in pursuit of their developmental vision despite strong criticisms which were coming from the neo-liberal camps.
The Zimbabwean leadership should not give up on such a noble move despite the unnecessary donor funded noise coming from the white world and their local acolytes. We need economic independence in our life time.
l Bowden Mbanje and Darlington Mahuku are lecturers at Bindura University of Science Education.