Africa needs proper leadership

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AFRICA has been formally independent for over 60 years now, but most of its inhabitants still struggle to earn a living as a result of autocratic rule across the continent.

As we marked Africa Day yesterday, it is sad that the continent is still saddled by serious underdevelopment, war and famine — most of the problems are a result of lack of democracy by those who liberated the region.

Liberators of the continent turned into tin-pot dictators as they gained control of national resources and the military.

As one writer puts it, “they simply took over the role of the colonial powers in the sense of marginalising and exploiting the people. Since there was no opposition in society, absolutist trends prevailed”.

Ordinary people have been subjected to abject poverty, their human rights are trampled upon with reckless abandon and they are treated like prisoners in their countries, always eager to find ways to escape from gaols.

This happens, yet Africa has too many natural resources to take care of its inhabitants who most yearn to go to Europe and the United States to scrape a living. Besides natural resources, the continent is rich in human capital and its youthful population is yearned in Europe for economic development and prosperity.

There is war, insurgents and political cacophony in many countries, Zimbabwe included. Most of the war and political instability are a result of failure by governments to come up with strong democratic institutions that are rooted in electoral democracy and equitable distribution of wealth in respective countries.

The continent has fallen into the trap of petit bourgeoisies and corruption that have bankrupted many nations.
“Since the fall of the Berlin wall and the transformation of the international system, African elites have learned to pay lip-service to Western standards. But the current, supposedly democratic institutions – parliaments and elections, for instance – have nothing to do with democracy as it is understood in the West,” wrote one scholar Salua Nour in an opinion titled A bandage on a tumour.

There is need for transformative leadership to end Africa’s myriad of problems and we agree with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proposal that the continent must learn to solve its problems. Farming out solutions has not worked and it will never work.

In a statement marking Africa Day, Ramaphosa said “the solutions to Africa’s problems, be they overcoming disease or eradicating poverty and underdevelopment, reside within Africa itself.”

Transformative leadership entails upholding democratic tenets, setting up unshakable institutions like the judiciary and parliament to guarantee people’s human, political and economic rights. Governments must be run like corporates, not along cronyism, tribalism, regionalism and corruption.

Africa must wake up and fully embrace democracy to prosper!

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