Thursday, June 16, 2005 at 10:17 AM

Some Good News About Africa!…For a Change

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Celebrated in Washington…

African leaders receive commendations and pledges of lots of cash for implementing democratic reforms in their respective countries during their visit to the White House in Washington, DC. From L-R: President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, President Festus Mogae of Botswana, President Bush, President Mamadou Tandja of Niger and President John Agyekum Kufour of Ghana.

Last Monday, whilst most of America was obsessing over the Michael Jackson verdict and the mysterious fate of Natalee Holloway, President Bush paid tribute to five African leaders who are pioneering the spread of democracy on the continent of Africa. And, it is a testament to their extraordinary success that they’ve earned this seal of approval under Bush’s exacting (double) standards for receiving US aid (i.e., standards that allow the dictatorships of Egypt and Pakistan to receive billions annually without a hint of hypocrisy).

He who pays the piper…

Bush marked the occasion by reinforcing his philosophical differences with good friend PM Tony Blair of England over the most salutary prescription to cure Africa’s political and economic pathologies. He maintained that establishing indigenous institutions and infrastructure to harness long-term trade with developed nations is the only way for African countries to ensure sustainable growth. And, that giving more aid to countries that have not implemented necessary political and economic reforms is tantamount to throwing good money after bad.

Moreover, to show that he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is, Bush cited his executive agreement that grants duty-free access for many African products to the American market and offers other trade benefits to 37 of the 48 nations in sub-Saharan Africa: Provided, however, that participating countries “show they are making progress toward a market-based economy, the rule of law, free trade, the protection of workers’ rights and policies that will reduce poverty.”

This is the uncompromising approach Bush intends to present during the annual summit of the world’s richest nations (G8) at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland (from 6-8 July) where debt relief for the world’s poorest nations – including 14 in Africa – will top the agenda. It is also the approach that enlightened leaders in Africa have embraced as, ultimately, more helpful and less paternalistic than traditional European assistance.

Finally, it is worth noting that America provides more funds to Africa than any other country, by far. Therefore, regardless of Bush’s arbitrary use of democratic reforms as a precondition for US aid, when he talks, not only G8 but also African leaders are very inclined to listen.

Reality Check: These five, plus the democratic vanguard South Africa, make only 6 out of 48 countries in Africa that are clearly on the right track. So please, hold the applause…

Confirmed in South Africa!

South African President Thabo Mbeki bids Members of Parliament a humble and dignified greeting before announcing the dismissal of his Deputy President Jacob Zuma in Cape Town on 14 June 2005

Regarding South Africa, in a truly dramatic demonstration of democratic leadership, its president Thabo Mbeki sacked his deputy president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday for being guilty of corruption – merely by association.

Zuma was implicated during a trial that ended 2 weeks ago with the conviction of his financial adviser Schabir Shaik on corruptions charges that involved his dealings with the deputy president.

A broken, though hardly contrite, Jacob Zuma accepts his fate whilst maintaining his innocence. But sleepless nights lie ahead for him now that SA’s emboldened National Prosecuting Authority has vowed to take another look at his personal financial dealings

Nevertheless, Zuma’s fate should not be allowed to diminish the political and, indeed, personal courage Mbeki displayed by firing him. After all, Zuma was not only widely known to be the man he hoped would succeed him as president but he also happens to be Mbeki’s longtime friend. Yet Mbeki did not dither under the obvious dilemma this situation presented and pronounced his swift and principled decision as follows:

“In the interest of the honourable deputy president, the government, our young democratic system and our country, it would be best to release the honourable Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as deputy president of the republic and member of the cabinet.”

George would be proud…Washington that is. Because in a striking and patently hypocritical contrast, his namesake George W. Bush continues to harbor his Vice President Dick Cheney despite Cheney’s association with the corrupt business practices of Halliburton – the company he once headed. In fact, the Bush Administration’s own Defense Contract Audit Agency implicated Cheney when it found that billions of no-bid contracts were improperly granted to Halliburton in the run up to the war in Iraq.

Note: I trust this commentary finally explains why Mbeki assumed such a superior tone during his recent meetings with Bush in Washington, DC.

Here’s to comrade Mbeki – for filling the shoes left by Nelson Mandela with such dignity and quiet self-confidence…Amandla!

Comments

  1. Anonymous June 16, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    Boy you hit the nail right on the head. I wish the mainstream media would publish stuff like this. I like the way you put so many things into context that most people never seem to think of. You are right, the African president is obviously more principled than Bush. luv ya ipinions…

  2. Robert November 10, 2007 at 8:05 am

    I coompletely agree! I, too, wish that the mainstream media in the United States would publish stories and commentaries such as these. I get so tired of the incessant talk of blonde, self-obsessed celebrities and the lack of attention to more important issues like the water crisis and the landmine crisis in Angola. When will Angola have playpumps?

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