Africa can never rise economically or otherwise until we address our political systems some of which remain exclusive and despotic and are therefore contrary to the systems which have resulted in the economic, social development and political dominance of the West at institutions such as the United Nations.
I am sure that by now most of us have listened to President Mugabe’s recent AU speech. I received numerous tweets from the rest of Africa on the issue applauding President Mugabe for providing leadership to Africa and telling it like it is. I choose to reserve my judgement on these assertions.
However, I think it was a relevant speech in that Africa must realise that its fate cannot continue to lie in the hands of others. For far too long we in Africa have been masterminded by the West whose agenda may not necessarily coincide with our national interests, there is no doubt about that.
Africans must take their place in the community of nations and shape their future unhindered by international geopolitical interests which seek to keep the advantages of the past. However they are conditions.
Let us be very clear, the interests of the West are to preserve their advantage that is natural. However, let us not be naïve and then to conclude that the East is any different.
China’s agenda in Africa is about creating jobs in China where there is serious poverty and lack. China’s priorities are to feed Chinese families and create jobs at home. Their ancillary motive is to also increase international influence as they seek compete with the West on the international geopolitical front and at the UN in particular.
Their influence over Africans, and its leaders in particular, is therefore an imperative as long as they achieve their goals. For them, Africa is a mere means to an end and not an end in itself just as colonialism was. The sooner we all wake up to that reality, the better.
This means that Africa is on its own.
We Africans must acknowledge that we are responsible for creating our own future and we must therefore assert ourselves on the international front. However in order to do so, Africa must create societies of Africans who are not only self-reliant but driven by national interests. More important, we must create societies which enjoy the same freedoms as in the West so that we can compete and develop our continent by maximising the potential of our people. Therein lies our challenge.
The questions we therefore need to ask ourselves are why the West has developed so fast and continues to dominate us on the international geopolitical agenda and why the East is fast rising in dominance on the economic front and is demanding and rightly entitled to the same poloitical rights as the West.
Our solution lies in honestly answering these questions.
First, we must stop being a consumption society and move towards being a productive society. Second, we must stop being a continual recipient of international tied aid and developmental loans and create our own capital base while creating environments in Africa, which offer real investment value and then some to the international free market capital sector, as articulated by my brother Hanning Mubaiwa, a Zimbabwean thought leader based in the USA, who has some exciting ideas on recreating Africa and Zimbabwe in particular. But I digress.
Here I want to talk about our current situation in Zimbabwe.
There is no doubt in my mind that we in Zimbabwe have huge potential going forward. We have learnt a lot from the West throughout the years and yet we are failing to apply and package the knowledge which we have gained to reinvent ourselves so that we can go onto a different developmental trajectory.
The root cause of this is that we are failing to create free societies led by ethical governments. We are failing to create inclusive political and economic institutions to maximise our own potential
As long as we fail to renew ourselves both at political and economic levels, we will continue to be dominated by the rest of the World. That is the lesson that President Mugabe must accept despite his rather passionate economic empowerment agenda for Africans which cannot be disputed but unfortunately, remains a goal yet to be achieved.
Zimbabwe cannot even feed itself as we speak despite having one of the best agricultural resources and knowledge in the world. Zimbabwe cannot fund its own development despite having prodigious mining resources which can enable it to do so. Zimbabwe has even failed to take advantage of its education dividend and its skills base. That is a travesty and that is the crux of the matter.
You see these facts pain some of us in that, despite having the resources, we remain dominated and abused by others and even rely on them to feed our people. We remain victims of our own dependency thinking. It is indeed time we rise up and claim our destiny as Zimbabweans and as Africans. That destiny can only come to pass when we claim it.
What is the solution?
The solution lies in us creating a free society with a new value system and ethics and the relevant institutions. The solution lies in us respecting the sacrosanct right to life, total freedom including the right for our people to pursue their ambition without hindrance. That is the Zimbabwe we want.
This can only happen when citizens are politically free and have the right to choose those that lead them and those who cannot because leadership defines who we can become not only as a country, but as a continent.
We must creative a new narrative that says that Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular, can indeed rise but, as with any successful country, they are conditions precedent to that rise.
The West and the East are successful because they have realised the secret that it is human capital that makes nations win. They have created systems that allow the combination of capital and human endeavour to maximise their potential and to win on the international front. Their development is not an accident, but is deliberate and informed. We can do the same.
Our calls for political reforms in Zimbabwe, which will no doubt translate into economic transformation, are therefore not misplaced and merely seek to achieve that which has escaped Africa for 60 years. Our political and economic systems are mere remnants of exclusive colonial systems created in the past to advantage minorities and to create economic advantage for the West because we have failed to transform them.
Our political independent icons such as President Mugabe, despite talking the talk, have therefore failed in their mandate to shape truly independent and free African societies.
That is the mandate we the younger generation of Africans must now take over and claim if Africa and Zimbabwe in particular are to rise as desired by our President in his AU speech.
Vince Musewe is an economist, author and Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs for People’s Democratic Party of Zimbabwe. The views expressed in this article are his own personal views.