The African Executive asked readers to talk about their country and mention some things they would tell African heads of state, were they given a ten-minute hearing. The views of Kerwine Lebone (S. Africa), Daniel Welwel (Tanzania) and Helen Zille (S. Africa) are sampled below. More views will be sampled next week.
Q. Tell us about South Africa? Has she reached the Promised Land?
Lebone: South Africa has a sound economy and a stabilising currency. It is no surprise that government has set a target of 6% economic growth in the present financial year. South Africa has the most superb infrastructure in the entire continent. The roads around South Africa's capitals, and the long-distance highways are excellent. In spite of this, most of the effects of conflict and racial disharmony such as violent crime, poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment are still with us today.
Q. What does this call for?
Lebone: It requires leadership with wisdom to solve these problems, as some do not have quick-fix solutions.
Q. What six things should African leaders address?
Lebone: Poverty, disease, democracy, business and conflict.
Q. Why do you think so?
Lebone: Africa has little or no access to world markets and has little economic freedom. Apart from poverty, Africa is readily distinguished by its conflicts in Liberia, the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Dafur. She is the only continent that does not seem to be making progress against poverty and is most susceptible to diseases such as malaria, cholera, and Aids. Africa is saddled with leaders who are not accountable. On the positive side, we have the first woman head of state in Liberia and the approach of democracy in the unlikeliest places.
Q. Does the AU meeting in Sudan portend any good?
Lebone: Absolutely! Sudan is on the verge of war with neighboring Chad thus it is an opportunity to address this.
Q. As our leaders get back home in planes, what should they remember?
Lebone: Good roads are the foundation of a good economy. Good roads ensure that agricultural produce from outlying farms reache markets and the general populace. They also ensure the safe transport of commodities between businesses and of workers to and from work.
Q. A caution to AU leaders?
Lebone: The AU presidency should not be given to leaders who start wars with neighboring countries; terrorize their own citizens; or who are guilty of human rights abuse. To do so would be similar to giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Adolf Hitler.
Q. Welwel, what do you have for your Head of State?
Welwel: Tanzania is just out of the election period. The period manifested a lot of political games during campaigns. I am pleased that the election was a success in terms of peace and stability. I have my doubts over the victory of one party by 80%. To me, this is not very healthy in democracy building. I hope that the new president will promote multi party democracy but not use his overwhelming popularity to suppress the opposition. I hope too that he will live to his word and continue with reforms aimed at building a competitive market economy which will open more doors for investment and employment, especially for young people.
Q. Any word of wisdom for African leaders?
Welwel: I firmly believe that for any society to make sustainable progress, it must invest in the youth. This is one single group that has special potential for development. The youth are daring, able to take risks, invent new ideas in business and adopt technology. To date this important group is isolated and marginalized. Youth unemployment is a time bomb that we must all work to undo it before it explodes.
It is time they collectively worked with a view of building true democracy in the continent. President Museveni should be made to see the meaning of democracy. We are all responsible to end civil wars and conflicts that have spread all over our continent. This is the initial point if we wish to make our continent a better place. We need to consider unifying our continent.
Q. What about markets?
Welwel: Let us make our Africa one market such that from Cairo to Cape Town we will be doing business without limits. We need to collectively demand better terms for our continent in the world politics...WTO meetings and the UN Security Council. Africa should spearhead the UN reforms.
Q. Helen Zille, as the National Deputy Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance (South Africa). You have talked a lot about corruption. Do you have a formula for corruption?
Helen: Yes. C = M + D - A
Q. Did you invent it yourself?
Helen: No! I got it from the international expert, Robert Klitgaard.
Q. Please decode it.
Helen: C = corruption, M = monopoly on decision-making, Discretion = the power to take the decision, and A = Accountability.
Q. Plainly put?
Helen: In any situation, anywhere, where any individual has the power to take decisions, the monopoly on those decisions, without accountability, you will inevitably have corruption.
Helen: Corruption busters should ensure that the combination described in the equation does not exist, anywhere in the system, and that checks and balances should always be operative. This is the only way to stop corruption.
Q. Does corruption have a positive side?
Helen: I cannot think of a positive side to corruption.
Q. What would you tell African leaders given a 10-minute chance?
Helen: I would describe the steps towards the criminalisation of the state in Africa, starting with centralization of power, cronyism, corruption, and culminating in the state actually being used as a vehicle for criminal activity. I would describe how that has occurred, and argue that this is the biggest single cause of underdevelopment in Africa.
By Josephat Juma
Mr. Juma is an African Executive Writer
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