Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Eddie Cross: Leadership in Africa

There is a great deal wrong in Africa. The continent has the highest ratio of internally displaced people in the world, we generate more refugees than any other continent, and we are poorer now than we were before independence.
We are the Aids capital of the globe and our life expectancies are retreating on a scale seldom seen in history.


It's not for lack of resources – we have those in abundance and if we rated Africa on the basis of population to its natural resource base we would find ourselves at the top of the log. It's not for a lack of energy – we are now a major producer and exporter of oil, we have vast reserves of coal and hydroelectric potential to light the continent for decades to come. It's not for a lack of aid from richer countries – many States in Africa draw up to half their annual budgets from donors in the West. Per capita we are one of the largest recipients of aid in the history of the world

The reason for all these problems lies not in our history nor in the predation of industrial economies, it lies in our leadership.

No better example of this could be found than the latest meeting of African Heads of State in the Gambia. This leadership summit of the African Union was expected to yield new consensus on Darfur, condemnation of human rights abuse in a number of countries, including Zimbabwe and the adoption of a Democracy Charter for the continent. On the sidelines it was expected to
yield a breakthrough in the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Instead we have the spectacle of the Heads of State rejecting the Democracy Charter, refusing to face up to the genocidal activities of the government of the Sudan and complete failure to come to grips with the crisis in Zimbabwe. A two-year-old report on human rights abuse is again deferred at the request of the perpetrators. I despair and so do many others who hold the welfare of Africa and its people's dear. (more...)
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