The ANC and the challenges facing the African continent
30 August 2002
The Strategy and Tactics (1997), in its discussion of the “Character of the International Situation”, departed from the premise “that South Africa is an African country”. Accordingly, our approach to the continent “is underpinned by our commitment to, and active promotion of, the African renaissance: the rebirth of a continent that has so for far too long been the object of exploitation and plunder”. This approach “recognises in the first instance the difficulties wrought on the continent by years of colonialism and unjust international relations, including the debt crisis, underdevelopment, social dislocation, and in some instances untenable political relations underpinned by forms of government that imperialism encouraged for its own selfish interests”. Thus, “for us, this African renaissance is both a strategic objective and a call to action”.
The Mafikeng National Conference, in its resolution on the “International Policy and Priorities” identified “the rapid pace at which globalisation is taking place in the world today” as one big challenge, and that “the process of globalisation is uneven leading to a widening gap between the rich and the poor both in developing and industrialised countries. Our continent, “particularly sub-Saharan Africa, is benefiting least from this process of globalisation, instead it has experienced a general decline in living standards and poverty is on the increase”. Another challenge identified by the Mafikeng National Conference is “the undemocratic nature of many multilateral institutions, including the United Nations Security Council”, and that “there is a pressing need for multilateral finance institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank to become more sensitive to the developmental needs, poverty and the debt trap of developing nations”.
- The National General Council elaborated further on these challenges, and committed our Movement, to, among others:
- Sharpening our understanding of global forces, including the role of transnational corporations and multinationals, international NGOs and the realignment of forces in the world;
- Developing a new breed of leadership with progressive outlook to take on the challenges of the Renaissance;
- Working with African countries that could provide strategic leadership for the realisation of the new vision; and
- Organising other civil society forces in support of our strategy.
- The January 8th Statement concluded that “the two specific challenges we face [with regard to the African renaissance] are to work with the rest of our Continent to ensure the success of the African Union (AU) and NEPAD, the New partnership for Africa’s Development. Thus would the vision of African patriots be realized, of the regeneration of Africa and the birth of a new civilisation”.
- The purpose of this discussion document is to unpack the concept of the African renaissance, its relationship to the African Union and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the strategic implications for the role of the ANC in the continent. The approach in the paper will be grounded in the thinking that the following six pillars will have to be in place for Africa to realise its renaissance:
- A vision that will inspire and inform Africa’s quest for its renaissance;
- An organisation that will drive the implementation of this vision;
- A programme of action that will be a detailed and practicalised break-down of the vision;
- A renaissance-oriented leadership at the helm of the renaissance organisational machinery;
- Mass mobilisation and popular participation in the realisation of the renaissance;
- International solidarity and support for Africa’s renaissance efforts.
Africa, Globalisation and the Characterisation of the International Situation
- The 20th century was one of the important epochs in world history, and the 21st century promises to witness even more profound changes. However, there is generally a consensus that since the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and other former socialist states, the world has been going through a post-Cold War transition which is underpinned by, among others, the following factors:
- The emergence of a unipolar world which is very unstable and a great threat to long-term global security.
- The rise of ethno-nationalism, racist extremism and religious fundamentalism (affecting all the main religions: Islam, Christianity, Hindu and Judaism). This process is accompanied by the proliferation of separatist movements and, in some cases, especially in Europe, the emergence of new states, including the unified Germany.
- The proliferation of regional conflicts between and within states.
- The emergence of non-state actors as important players on the global stage. On the one hand are the transnational drug cartels and extremist rightwing organisations, and, on the other, the new social forces, especially the “anti-globalisation” movement, whose membership includes elements ranging from environmentalists and pacifists to the ultra-leftists and anarchists. The anti-globalisation movement, and other forces opposed to the excesses of neo-liberalism, can no longer be ignored and are being factored in strategic plans of powerful nations.
- The intensification of regional integration, with Europe setting the pace. This trend towards political, economic and social integration within regions is an important ingredient for creating a multi-polar world.
- A growing global consensus on a new concept of security that puts more emphasis on people as opposed to states. From this perspective, poverty, disease, ignorance and environmental degradation are as serious a threat to the world as nuclear war. Human security is now high up on the agenda of the world.
- The crisis in global governance and the multilateralism as represented by the United Nations (UN). The growing unilateralism of the USA has created a dent in the credibility of the UN as a mechanism for regulating relations among states at the global level. Hence the call for the reform and democratisation of the UN and the international financial and trade organisations (the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organisation).
- Since the September 11 incident, the world has been entering an even more complex period. Cutting across these trends underpinning this global transition, is the process of globalisation.
- Globalisation is one of the often used concepts, yet its definition is increasingly becoming more and more complex because the phenomenon itself, a late 20th century development as it is, has many and diverse manifestations that are subjected to ideologically-loaded interpretations. For the purpose of this discussion, the manifestation of globalisation can be grouped into the following categories:
- The revolution in information and communication technologies (ICT), resulting in the compression of space and time. The world has now become a single but a “global village”.
- The triumph of the “Washington Consensus” as an ideological rationalisation for the disparities that come with globalisation. According to the Washington Consensus view, there is only one developmental route for developing countries: “liberal” capitalism with uncontrolled dominance of the market; the role of the state in the economy must be as minimal as possible. Even the very idea of “freedom” has been transformed; “freedom” is now defined narrowly to promote liberal market economics, rationalise inequalities and undermine the role of the state. This process is accompanied by the global assault on the virtues of collectivism, society and the public; boundless individualism and greed are proffered to humanity as key drivers for change and global prosperity.
- The deepening of capitalism and the transformation of economic activity, including the international spread of trade, financial and production activities. Linked to this trend is the increasing dominance of the world by the transnational corporations and the international financial institutions.
- The dominance of speculative capital, thanks to the ICT which now makes it possible for financial transactions to be conducted across the world at the fastest possible speed. The impact of speculative capital on developing countries is now well known, especially when the Asian financial crisis, the Argentinean Peso crisis and the sharp decline of the Rand are considered.
- The increasing weakening of the state in the developing world in particular, as national barriers gradually beak-down in the face of global forces such as the transnational corporations and speculative capital. Not only is the sovereignty of the state becoming more and more untenable, but even policy-making within countries is no longer immune from the influence of powerful and influential global forces.
- Thanks to improved means of communication, inter-alia, the TV and the power of Hollywood movies and the USA music industry, there is gradually an emerging “world” identity. The western culture – American, to be specific – is being universalised. “Cultural genocide” is one of the greatest threats facing the developing countries
- Globalisation may have its positive side, but its benefits are not evenly spread across nations and social classes. According to the United Nations Human Development Report of 1999: “When the market goes too far in dominating social and political outcomes, the opportunities and rewards of globalisation spread unequally and inequitably – concentrating power and wealth in a select group of people, nations and corporations, marginalising others”. Hence the call for globalisation with ethics (respect for human rights), equity, inclusion, human security, sustainability (respect for the environment), and development (the eradication of poverty and deprivation).
Character of the African crisis
Africa as a region finds itself in worse situation at the dawn of the 21st century.
Geo-strategically, Africa has lost its value globally. With the end of the East-West conflict on our continent, not only have the Cold War superpowers withdrawn, but many parts of Africa have now degenerated into all sorts of conflicts within and between states with serious economic and humanitarian consequences. Also, whereas certain African raw materials continue to be important to the West, in general substitutes and alternatives have been found to, for example, gold and copper. This development has affected African countries, most of which have economies that are completely reliant on the export of these raw materials. The challenge is for Africans to assert themselves globally, but in order to do that, Africa needs (politically and economically) strong and stable countries that the world can reckon with.
Economic front: The structure and orientation of African economies remains unchanged. Most of the continent’s economies are internally not integrated – with little or no functioning formal economic sector – and are externally oriented largely towards the export of unprocessed raw materials to the West. Without a significant indigenous entrepreneurial class, economic activity and development remains largely in the hands of the state. There is also very limited economic interaction among African economies in terms of intra-African trade, investment into each other’s economy, convertibility of currencies, or generally in terms of the complimentarity of economies.
Social factors: poverty, disease and ignorance, 40 years after independence, still remain high on the list of key challenges facing the continent. Four in every ten Africans live in absolute poverty; and, according to the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa; expectations are that the proportion of people living in poverty on our continent will increase in this millennium. The challenge here is to move speedily and aggressively against poverty and all other social ills, including the issue of health and educational needs of the people.
Political factors: The post-colonial state, as inherited from the colonial period, remains largely untransformed in some parts of the continent. In such cases, the African post-colonial state is being used as an instrument for self-enrichment by sections of the political elite, rather than for creating a better life for all. It is for this reason that access to the state is so important for this political elite, to the extent that elections have become a source of conflict in some African countries. The conflicts in Africa would not be happening had we had developmentalist states whose agenda is determined by the needs of the people. Therefore, the challenge here is to transform the African post-colonial state and liberate it from the greed of the political elite to orientate it towards serving the needs of the people. This challenge will have to address the capacity of the state as an institution as well as the code of conduct for the political elite that is at the helm of power and those in the opposition.
- The African Union and NEPAD are an attempt to address all these dimensions of the African crisis. But first, we must begin with the African renaissance.
The AU-NEPAD and the African renaissance
- The resolution of the 50th National Conference on “International Policy and Priorities” committed the ANC to initiating “a process of developing a theoretical framework and strategy to give content to our vision of the African renaissance”. The implementation of this resolution resulted not only in government adopting the African renaissance as its policy vision, but the development of the African Union and NEPAD has now given this vision a practical edge.
- The African renaissance, as a vision, has the following five dimensions:
- Peace and security – to bring an end to wars and violent conflicts in our continent
- Democracy and good governance – to promote democracy, popular participation, respect for human rights, improve state capacity, and strengthen people-driven governance;
- Development – to fight underdevelopment and create a better life for all, including the eradication of poverty;
- Culture – to affirm and protect African culture; and
- Improve Africa’s global standing – this includes the struggle for the reform and transformation of the United Nations and the international trade and financial institutions.
The African Union and NEPAD are an attempt to operationalise this vision and create a new value system for our continent. The African Union provides an organisational vehicle for the realisation of the African renaissance, while NEPAD is the programme of action.
- A discussion of the African Union and NEPAD must be located within the framework of the history of Africa’s search for unity and its renaissance.
African’s search for unity and its renaissance
Africa’s search for unity and social and economic recovery is a centuries-old enterprise. The common historical experience of Africans of, first, slavery and, later, colonialism, ensured that Africans develop a common consciousness as one people with a common destiny. Two main responses developed in this regard: in the Diaspora, slaves and ex-slaves of African descent struggled against their second-class position in society and grabbled with their crisis of identity. The second response was by Africans on the continent; to oppose slavery, and with colonialism, to fight for their land and freedom.
- These two responses converged into a Pan-African Movement which developed institutionally from the end of the 19th century. This Pan-Africanism rested on four elements:
- A sense of common historical experience;
- A sense of common decent and destiny;
- Opposition to racial discrimination and colonialism;
- A determination to create a “new” Africa.
- The highest historical point of this process was the decolonisation process that began with Ghana in 1957. Therefore, the process leading to the present can be divided into the following four phases:
Phase I: 1960s to early 1970s: This is the period of high optimism and great expectation. One of the biggest achievements of this period was the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963, as a platform for Pan-African unity and action at the global level. The OAU charter put a lot of emphasis on “sovereignty” and “non-interference” in the internal affairs of member states. There was no reference at all to issues of development and democracy.
Because the OAU could not interfere with how member states conducted their affairs within their borders, dictators were tolerated and left untouched, especially following the emergence of military regimes from the middle of the 1960s. Linked to this was the emergence of one-party states which many African leaders defended because they thought they could use it for nation-building and the fight against tribalism. Instead, in some cases, one-party states became instruments for mass repression and the canonisation of the “Father of the Nation”. Thus this period witnessed the “death” of the masses who were in the forefront of the struggle against colonial rule.
There were developments that were positive during this period. For example, the OAU’s struggle against colonialism ensured that colonialism and apartheid were defeated in the continent.
Phase II: 1970s to 1980s: In the 1970s, about a decade after the formation of the OAU, African leaders took concrete steps aimed at addressing the developmental plight of the continent. Important in this regard was the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) which was adopted by the OAU in 1980. The LPA tried to set a 20-year developmental agenda for the continent with focus on seven priority areas, on the basis of the principles of collective self-reliance and self-sustaining development and economic growth. The LPA also set the agenda for regional integration and the establishment of an African Economic Community.
- However, the LPA remained ceremonial as a project for a number of reasons:
- The post-colonial state as inherited from colonialism was not fully transformed and shaped in accordance with the demands of the post-independence period. Therefore, any attempt to develop an economic recovery programme without addressing the nature of the African post-colonial state – issues of democracy and governance – was bound to fail;
- The impact of the Cold War as a divisive force that set African people and countries against each other;
- The economic crisis of the 1980s whose manifestation included the impact of the deteriorating terms of trade, the 1981-82 recession, and the burden of external debt;
- Natural misfortunes such as famine, floods, desertification and drought.
Therefore, Africa entered the 1990s with its hope for a renaissance shattered.
Phase III: 1990s to 2000: The 1990s created better political conditions for the acceleration of African renaissance attempts. The end of the Cold War not only lessened political divisions on the continent, but it also created better conditions for the resolution of intra- and inter-state conflicts. Secondly, the wave of democratisation that hit the continent from 1989, on the one hand, imposed conditions for the transformation of the post-colonial state, and on the other, reactivated and re-mobilised the African masses for the good cause of the continent. Popular participation and public-private partnership gained importance as essential ingredients for the continent’s renaissance. Finally, the liberation of Namibia and South Africa closed a chapter of the continent’s colonial history, and created conditions for a reassessment of Pan-Africanism.
The adoption of the Abuja Treaty by the OAU in 1991 was an important step in this regard. The Treaty was an attempt to take forward the LPA vision of regional integration with its objective of creating an African Economic Community by 2025. The organs of the African Economic Community include some of the institutions that were to be incorporated into the African Union; that is, the Pan-African Parliament, the Economic and Social Council, Specialised Technical Committees, as well as the Court of Justice.
However, one problem with the integration strategy proposed in the Treaty was that it was based on the European integration model of beginning with the integration of economies before creating union-wide political institutions. A market-driven approach to regional integration works when countries involved have strong and viable economies, and this is not the case with Africa. So, an alternative model had to be found: that of beginning with the creation of union-wide political institutions.
For this reason, the OAU Extra-Ordinary Summit in Sirte, Libya, in 1999, put politics in the lead and revised the Treaty’s time frames. This also made it necessary to review the OAU as a structure and its mandate. Thus a decision was taken in the form of the adoption of the African Union Constitutive Act in Togo in 2000, to tranform the OAU into a new structure -the African Union. At its 2001 Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, the OAU took a decision to launch the African Union, and this happened recently in Durban.
The African Union is a significant and strategic development when compared to the structure and mandate of the OAU. In terms of mandate, unlike the OAU which was merely political, the African Union is both a political and economic formation. It is not just a Pan-African platform for leaders to pronounce themselves on common positions, but it is also aimed at creating a community – an integrated political, social and economic whole. The envisaged African Union institutions include the Pan-African Parliament, Financial Institutions (Central Bank, Investment Bank, and Monetary Fund), Court of Justice and the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (for representation of civil society).
Furthermore, whereas the OAU objectives put more emphasis on sovereignty and “non-interference”, with no reference at all to issues of democracy, governance and human rights, for the African Union democracy, good governance and respect for human rights are very important, and there is also a qualification on “non-interference”. The African Union Constitutive Act recognises “the right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly – in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity”. Also, the African Union will not be silent on coups as it was the case with the OAU. The African Union Constitutive Act, taking from the decision of the 1999 Algiers Summit of the OAU, is very unambiguous on this: “Governments which shall come to power through unconstitutional means shall not be allowed to participate in the activities of the Union”.
- The successful launch of the African Union in Durban was indeed one of the continent’s biggest achievements since independence. Among the decisions taken by the Summit, are the following:
- The establishment of a one-year interim period, with the Union’s affairs managed by the Interim Commission.
- The adoption of a Protocol on the establishment of the Peace and Security Council as an organ that will enable to Union to deal with peace and security matters and interfere in the internal affairs of member states as and when necessary.
- Declare the next ten years, 2002-2011, a Decade for Capacity Building in Africa.
- Commit African leaders to the speedy establishment of the Pan-African Parliament and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council.
Phase IV: 2000 to the present: The launch of the African Union and NEPAD characterise the current phase.
NEPAD as a programme of action of the African Union is informed by the wealth of experience that the continent has accumulated since independence. This experience includes the difficulties the continent faced with the implementation of plans such as the Lagos Plan of Action.
The NEPAD, as adopted at the OAU Lusaka Summit, is a strategic development on how Africa’s recovery plans were developed in the past. The initiative is led by member states with identifiable political champions, and is informed by a commitment that African leaders must make themselves.
There are three components to the NEPAD process. The first is a set of principles that the leaders commit themselves to: NEPAD is a pledge by African leaders, based on a common vision and a firm and shared conviction that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and at the same time to participate actively in the world economy and body politic. The initiative is anchored on the determination of Africans to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalising world. It is a call for a new relationship of partnership within countries in African and between Africa and the international community to overcome the development chasm – a partnership to be founded on a realisation of common interests, benefit and equality.
NEPAD is premised on African states making commitments to good governance, democracy and human rights, while endeavouring to prevent and resolve situations of conflict and instability on the continent. To this end, leaders who are part of the NEPAD process will accede to the “Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance”. This declaration sets out a standard and outlines what NEPAD member countries will be required to do on matters of democracy, political and economic governance. Leaders who accept the conditions set out in this declaration will also subject themselves to a Peer Review Mechanism, which will entail a period assessment by an independent body of the performance of NEPAD member countries on matters of democracy, political and economic governance.
- The second component of the NEPAD process is a strategic policy framework and a detailed Programme of Action, which is constructed around the following three strategies:
- Preconditions for development
- Priority sectors
- Mobilising resources
- Peace, security, democracy and political governance.
- Economic and corporate governance, with a focus on public finance management.
- Regional cooperation and integration.
- Information and communications technology.
- Human development, with a focus on health, education and skills development.
- Promoting diversification of production and exports, with a focus on market access for African exports to industrialised countries.
- Better management of public revenue and expenditure.
- Increasing savings and capital inflows via further debt relief.
- Increased Overseas Development Aid flows and private capital
The third component of the NEPAD process are the institutions that have been established for coordination and implementation of the programme of action. The Implementation Committee, made up of 20 member countries (four from each of the five African Union regions) is responsible for the overall coordination, and reports to the African Union Summit. The day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the NEPAD Secretariat.
NEPAD has also created new bases and terms for dialogue with the North on Africa’s plight. No longer will the North determine what Africa needs and where their Aid should be directed. As a result, the countries of the North, individually and collectively, are pronouncing themselves on NEPAD and revising their development packages for Africa with the view to aligning them to NEPAD. In this sense, the NEPAD has given Africa the initiative in its engagement with the North, and has the potential of even tampering with the balance of forces globally in our favour.
- The following are some of the achievements at the global level that we can attribute to NEPAD:
- A recognition that whatever initiative is put on the table to address Africa’s plight, such an initiative must be led and owned by Africans;
- All resources that have been identified to address Africa’s developmental problems, and this includes Aid and United Nations programmes, will now be channeled through the NEPAD process, and not unilaterally as has hitherto been the case;
- There is now a consensus with the North on the urgency for addressing Africa’s plight;
- Our continent’s global standing has improved because of the strong stance that African leaders have taken within NEPAD on issues of democracy, for example.
- Across the continent, the NEPAD process is:
- putting pressure on African leaders, who had not taken a stance on issues of democracy and good governance, to do so;
- creating a framework for the building and promotion of a new political culture and value system;
- putting pressure on countries that are experiencing conflict to seek political solutions and join the NEPAD movement;
- creating new opportunities and space for civil society to assert itself on matters pertaining to the plight of our continent;
- resurrecting the hope and optimism of the 1960s.
African Motive Forces for Change
The realisation of the African renaissance will require a strong mass mobilisation and civil society participation; the masses remain the prime makers of history. The African Union is founded on very strong principles of mass mobilisation and popular participation, to the extent that a special organ is envisaged for civil society representation. The NEPAD pre-process will also require very strong civil society participation.
Secondly, there are social forces that emerged in reaction to increased wars and conflicts in the continent. These forces, many of which are linked to the church, women and other pacifist movements, are rooted among the grassroots and are in day-to-day contact with the victims of wars and conflicts on the ground. They are a force that can be mobilised behind a campaign for a conflict-free Africa.
Thirdly, there are also social movements that are involved in campaigns against debt, some are even part of the global “anti-globalisation” movement. These forces also have a progressive potential, but are vulnerable to the extremism and ideological adventurism of ultra-leftists and anarchists.
Fourthly, are the sectoral formations such as the trade union movement, youth and women structures, and peasant organisations. The strength of these formations varies from country to country and sub-region to sub-region, but there is generally a view that they are organisationally and ideologically weak.
Finally, as to the African non-governmental sector (NGOs), these structures play an important role in many African communities. Many of them have now assumed functions that are traditionally performed by governments because of the collapse of many African states in the 1980s. However, in many respects, the African NGO sector is not an independent voice, but an extension of Western influence because of its dependency on donor funding. It is partly for this reason that its relationship with the African political elite is an uncomfortable one.
- The ANC’s approach to the building of alliances in the continent will have to take these forces into consideration. However, central to the ANC’s strategy towards the continent remains the following: * Party-to-party links, especially with former liberation movements, African members of the Socialist International, and other fractions of the NEPAD-oriented political establishment; * Relations with sectoral formations through the Leagues, the Alliance and other civil society organs and sectoral formations; * Giving leadership to government on matters of policy and deployment; * Promoting people-to-people relations.
Conclusion: The role of South Africa in the Continent
- The question of the role of South Africa in the continent will always come up, and will have to be addressed with courage and humility. South Africa, objectively, has the characteristics of a middle-power, which are:
- comparatively strong military
- a comparatively strong and dominant economic base;
- fiscal stability;
- relative social and political stability; and
- a government that has effective control over its territory and borders.
However, in order for South Africa to play a role in the continent, the country will need to go beyond the will and start addressing its capacity to exercise such a role
There are two ways that South Africa can meaningfully contribute to the African renaissance:
- it can “bully” others, whether they like it or not; or
- it can work through existing continental, multilateral structures to advance and support the defence of progressive principles and ideals that have collectively been agreed to. It is the latter role that South Africa will have to consider; deploy its resources and political experience to advance and accelerate the implementation of the African Union and the NEPAD. The realisation of Africa’s renaissance will be difficult to achieve without South Africa’s commitment to play its role in the continent.