By Vince Musewe
Vince Musewe says for Africa to succeed it needs to shift away from the old liberation mentality.
Let us rather spend our energy and time organizing ourselves across the borders so that we can create a new African Democratic Movement that creates momentum towards change.
Last week I wrote on the issue of neocolonialism and how we black Africans, must stop continually blaming it for our lack of progress. I mentioned that it is critical that Zimbabwe and South Africa strengthen opposition political parties because it is healthy for democracy.
In addition, I am totally against the alienation of white Africans because of the past.
From the points raised by my readers, I continue to be amused at some of the arguments we make to defend the indefensible. The first thing we tend to do is to shoot the messenger, a normal defense mechanism by politicians who are under scrutiny.
The second thing we assume is that, a black man who may exhibit the same point of view that a white person might agree with is labeled an “uncle tom” who supports a white point of view. In other words he is a “sell-out”.
I hear it all the time here in Zimbabwe. If you support the MDC you are a sell-out. If you promote racial integration you are black man who thinks like a white. If you insist of high standards of ethics and performance from the politicians, they label you counterrevolutionary. In other words we must all accept sub standard quality of life, keep quiet about it because our brothers and sisters who fought the white man are now in power.
For me that is a tired old argument which indicates that we blacks still have very far to go in creating constructive and self critical dialogue that addresses the fundamental issue of accelerating economic development and addressing poverty in Africa.
For the record, no sane person would support apartheid, colonialism, imperialism or any system that oppresses others.
No sane person must support the dictatorship which we have in Zimbabwe and Angola for that matter, a plutocracy as we now have in South Africa, or any political system that is based on a group of politicians abusing state power and resources, failing to address the pertinent issues of poverty alleviation but refusing to admit their incompetence. That cannot be supported nor must it be acceptable to any of us who are progressive in our thinking with regard to where Africa ought to be in the future.
For the record, I have never positioned myself as having the universal solutions to the complex socio political problems as we now have in Africa where, despite the resources, the education and the human potential we must still beg from the West and East.
However, I truly believe that unless we reconsider the way we think, unless we begin to look at the socio-political system in Southern Africa for example, as inextricably linked and therefore inextricably dependent, we will continue with our silo mentality and recreate the very conditions that got us where we are in the first place.
We must shed old style thinking and fears. We must begin to embrace white Africans as part of the solution to developing our continent. We need a revolution in our minds first before we can be architects of a new African society. We do not need liberation struggle mentality in order to achieve that.
Poverty has increased in Zimbabwe and South Africa and many other African countries, despite these countries having the resources. Education standards have not improved as expected, despite having the resources and the human capital.
Corruption by black Africans is now a habit and there is rampant abuse of resources by those in government in almost all African countries. This has absolutely nothing to do with the white man or woman, but everything to do with our incompetency to manage, plan and deploy resources; period.
In my opinion, on the root cause of Africa’s failures is simple: we have elected the wrong people into power. We have deployed the wrong people for political leadership because our criteria of choosing them have been how they were involved in waging a war against apartheid or against colonialism.
We assumed that the most vocal, the most radical and popular, the most ruthless, the most revered blacks during our liberation struggles, are the ones that are necessarily endowed with the capability to lead Africa after independence. We were wrong and we must correct that.
We have had a very hard lesson here in Zimbabwe, and I do not wish it on other Africans. If a country such as South Africa is to avoid that, it must recognize those symptoms now so that conditions do not deteriorate.
Let me tell you something, social conditions deteriorate slowly on a day by day basis and “normal” becomes characterized by oppression, poverty, political bullying, black racism and the domination of the political space by a black plutocracy that claims to be democratic and “defending the gains of independence”.
The behavior and motives of politicians are universal, and are hardly dependent on climate, geography, or race. They will claim the right to rule and will want to stay in power, even where they are clearly incompetent and are not delivering. That is certainly the case in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria and many other African countries. There will also be those amongst us, who will support them blindly, because they detest whites criticizing them. Not because the blacks that they are supporting are doing the right thing but merely because of the past. That is insanity.
Zimbabwe must get its act right and South Africa has a vested interest in that: It will create more opportunity for us to accelerate economic integration, development and the fight against poverty within the region.
It will open up space in South Africa for increased employment opportunity and create more jobs for all of us. The dictatorship in Angola is unacceptable and we have an obligation to help our brothers and sisters there. Swaziland is a joke that must now come to an end. Our brothers and sisters in Zambia needs better leadership. The whole SADC region needs a political re-awakening.
We black Africans can certainly achieve much higher standards of living in Africa than those expected by whites or the West or the East. We have everything we need accept one thing; LEADERSHIP!
Let’s now rather spend our energy and time organizing ourselves across the borders so that we can create a new African Democratic Movement that creates momentum towards the realization of Kwame Nkrumah’s dream of Pan Africanism with a modern face. Don’t expect support from our current politicians or their minions, they are all scared of becoming irrelevant.
Vince Musewe is an economic analyst based in Harare. You may contact him on [email protected]