Leadership in Africa
There is a great deal wrong in Africa. The continent has the highest
of internally displaced people in the world, we generate more refugees
any other continent, and we are poorer now than we were before
We are the Aids capital of the globe and our life expectancies are
retreating on a scale seldom seen in history.
Itís not for lack of resources - we have those in abundance and if we
Africa on the basis of population to its natural resource base we would
ourselves at the top of the log. Itís not for a lack of energy - we are
a major producer and exporter of oil, we have vast reserves of coal and
hydroelectric potential to light the continent for decades to come.
for a lack of aid from richer countries - many States in Africa draw up
half their annual budgets from donors in the West. Per capita we are
the largest recipients of aid in the history of the world
The reason for all these problems lies not in our history nor in the
predation of industrial economies, it lies in our leadership.
No better example of this could be found than the latest meeting of
Heads of State in the Gambia. This leadership summit of the African
was expected to yield new consensus on Darfur, condemnation of human
abuse in a number of countries, including Zimbabwe and the adoption of
Democracy Charter for the continent. On the sidelines it was expected
yield a breakthrough in the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Instead we have the spectacle of the Heads of State rejecting the
Charter, refusing to face up to the genocidal activities of the
of the Sudan and complete failure to come to grips with the crisis in
Zimbabwe. A two-year-old report on human rights abuse is again deferred
the request of the perpetrators. I despair and so do many others who
the welfare of Africa and its peopleís dear.
Of particular concern to us is of course the complete failure to come
grips with the Zimbabwean crisis. Here is a prime example of the
leadership in Africa. The most educated government on the continent,
that came to power 26 years ago with such hope and promise has swept
rule of law aside, corrupted the whole democratic system and
and systematically destroyed a functioning and relatively efficient and
competitive African economy.
This regime, led by Mr. Mugabe who struts the AU stage like a Pharaoh,
seen the life expectancy of its people decline by half in ten years,
its economic output slashed by half and its exports by two thirds and
reduced the value of its currency to a tiny fraction of its value. A
of its people have fled the country as refugees and another third are
effectively internally displaced. A million people will leave the
this year as the human tide continues to swell and all State
especially those of health and education are simply disintegrating in
of our eyes.
Many argue that we have gone beyond the point of no return. That we are
destined to become another Somalia or Congo. There is absolutely no
expectation here that the present leadership can address these mammoth
problems and perhaps turn the tide of disaster and despair. When
and South Africa presented a similar outlook to the world, because it
involved white leadership of predominantly black countries, the
peoples of these countries could rely on the solidarity of the OAU and
'Front Line States' for their well being and future prospects. They
rely on a world community that would not hesitate to impose mandatory
trade sanctions on tiny Rhodesia and global sanction of the regime in
When the final crunch came and change became essential for the
the people of these two countries, the global community rallied - first
behind Henry Kissinger and P W Botha to remove Ian Smith from power and
12 years later behind Margaret Thatcher, to force F W de Klerk to
reality and begin the process of closure on 40 years of Apartheid. In
neither instance was domestic pressure and resistance the primary
the act, which brought closure to these regimes.
Now that we have an African Head of State behaving in a similar manner
also destroying his country on the alter of his ego and avarice, no one
willing to take up the cudgel and come to the rescue of the ordinary
held captive by the Zanu PF regime. Not Mr. Mbeki, not Kofi Annan, not
AU or the 'Front Line States' who have so much at stake. Instead they
back into a defensive huddle knowing full well that they are often just
guilty as Mr. Mugabe when it comes to failure of their leadership
The decision by Annan was especially difficult to comprehend - he knows
facts, he has 6 months to go and does not need the votes of Africa to
another term and he has the authority and the support of the major
to do something useful for once. But no, he ducks the issue, blandly
Zimbabwe and itís suffering people into a Tanzanian cubbyhole and walks
away. I hope he enjoys his hard currency pension while we pay the price
his failure to lead.
Well at least that clears the air for us - we now know we are alone in
struggle and that we must liberate ourselves or face disaster in every
We have ourselves and our faith in God. In the latter respect we are
the most Christian countries in the world. This gives us the appearance
docility that is deceptive. I always said it took a great deal of
provocation to get the people in Zimbabwe to finally confront the
here in 1970.
Well now perhaps we are there again. Only this time we are really
alone. Nothing wrong with that - the Bible promises that 'they that
upon the Lord, will not grow weary'. We will not quit this struggle, we
not give in and in the end our struggle will produce a better
than we have now - one which will look to the interests of our people
not their own. A government that will restore our basic rights and
and allow us to work and play in the land of our birth. A leadership
will respect our democratic right to choose our leaders and to dismiss
when they do not act in our best interests.
Bulawayo, 4th July 2006.