Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
Extracts from an address to the African Association of Political Science by Prof. Anver Saloojee, special advisor in the South African Presidency.
The answer to the question that is being posed today – “Can a common African future be built on the strengths of a diverse continent” — is yes.
The broader question however is : how can one match the vision of African development, integration, peace, and democratic governance with institutions that have the capacity to develop and implement policies to work towards the concrete implementation of the vision ?
This of course is much more complex. It requires an understanding of current global conjuncture and how it intersects and interplays with regional and national development goals.
The “yes” answer requires :
An understanding of the need to eradicate poverty, including gendered poverty ; the growing income, wealth and asset gaps between rich and poor and dealing with the multiple forms of inequality ;
An understanding of the critical challenges posed by uneven development across nation states and across regions ;
Dealing with underdevelopment ;
Understanding the impact of globalisation and determining how best countries can position themselves with respect to globalisation ;
Resolving conflicts and promoting peace and security on the continent ;
Advancing democracy, strengthening the institutions of democracy and promoting good governance ;
Instituting a strong ethos of responsibility, accountability, anti-corruption both among elected officials and public servants ;
Identifying the country-specific training and development needs of public servants who have the responsibility to strengthen institutional and legislative frameworks and to develop and implement public policy ;
Promoting pro-poor ecologically sensitive and environmentally sustainable growth and development ;
Democratising the global multi-lateral institutions of governance Strengthening South-South cooperation ;
Strengthening the culture of human rights, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law including the independence of the judiciary ;
Respecting and nurturing diversity and thereby promoting the vision of a discrimination-free society that is democratic, prosperous and that equitably shares the wealth that is generated ;
Identifying the core elements of a progressive political discourse and creating and nurturing a progressive politics right across the continent ;
Developing a language and practice of progressive politics that goes beyond that which emphasises forms of exclusion and marginalisation. Instead our language, our discourse needs to embrace the language of social inclusion.
Today we are witnessing the failure of the Washington consensus and neo-liberalism. Undoubtedly, the neo-liberal reorganisation of the social welfare state and the implementation of structural adjustment policies in many countries has come at a considerable cost – the erosion of the social fabric of many societies in both the global North and the global South.
This erosion has led to the increased marginalisation of those who are economically and socially vulnerable and has led to their exclusion from the centre of society.
These inequalities in contemporary African society can be diagnosed and measured as patterns of exclusion which affect individuals and groups in six key areas :
Exclusion from goods and services including material goods and services (education healthcare etc) ;
Labour market exclusions (unemployment, underemployment and employment in low paying unstable employment) ;
Exclusion from land (homelessness, housing and unsettled land claims) ;
Exclusion from security including physical security ;
Exclusion from human rights (discrimination) ; and
Exclusion from macro-economic development strategy (the adverse effects of the market e.g. affordability of adequate housing).
An understanding of African geopolitics in the 21st Century has to be fully cognisant of these forms of exclusion continually reproduced in the current conjuncture by a global environment characterised by :
The dominance of one major power (and the absence of a balance of power in the global system) ;
The continuing move towards unilateralism, and the weakening of the multilateral system ;
Weakening and disregard of international law treaties ;
Concepts such as : clash of civilisations, religious crusades ;
Threats of international terrorism, for which the UN is still grappling to find a suitable definition ;
Environmental degradation and climate warming ;
Networks and alliances based on specific issues ( e.g. “coalition of the willing”) ;
Growing influence of regional organisations ;
National interests often supersede adherence to international law – Kyoto ;
Unequal world trading and financial systems ;
“Force feeding “ of democracy ;
“Axis of evil” ;
“For us or against us” ;
Preventive action ;
Regime change ;
Disregard of international law – invasion of Iraq ; and
A new very different scramble for Africa and its resources.
The realisation of the vision requires us to develop a more nuanced and adequate response to globalisation ; to the reform of the United Nations (and other multilateral institutions) ; to continuing to mobilise and press for the realisation of the promises of the failed Doha round of trade talks ; to working assiduously to at least ensure that all countries in Africa meet the MDGs ; and identifying ways of restructuring of the global exercise of power.
Africa must not accept globalisation in the era of neo-liberalism as hegemonic. We need to posit a new economic paradigm that incorporates both democratic governance and an accountable and responsible market place ; the paradigm needs to go beyond the “anti” in anti-globalisation.
It has to be a paradigm that addresses the challenges of underdevelopment, the restructured global division of labour, the increasing iniquitous distribution of global wealth, global poverty, the growing power of transnationals and the implications for progressive governance and administration.
The historic 2000 Millennium Summit resolved to (among other things) halve by the 2015, the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day.
What, if any, progress has been made :
Out of the world population of six billion, almost half have incomes of less than US$2 a day.
In recent decades the poorest 5% of the world’s population has lost more than a quarter of its purchasing power, while the richest increased its real income by 12%.
The national per capita income of the 20 richest countries is 37 times larger than that of the 20 poorest, a gap which has doubled in size over the last 40 years.
Over 40% of Sub-Saharan African people live below the international poverty line of US$1 a day.
More than 140 million young Africans are illiterate.
The mortality rate of children under 5 years of age is 14 per 1000, and life expectancy at birth is only 54 years.
Millions have no access to safe water, proper sanitation, or electricity. Africa’s share of world trade has plummeted, accounting for less than 2%.
Most countries in Africa are in danger of not meeting their MDG obligations.
So if we are serious about a rearticulated vision for Africa we must begin with our fight against inequality, poverty and underdevelopment.
In the new globalised economy the power of transnational corporations has increased while the power of national governments appears to be declining, and herein lie the critical challenges to African Geopolitics in this century – to define and stake out an alternate economic paradigm.
Such a New Economic Paradigm has to pose anew questions about the relationship between the market-driven globalisation and issues of the common good, democracy, democratic citizenship and global environmental sustainability. It has to provide a clear alternative to market-driven globalisation.
Current development programmes by the Bretton Woods institutions, encouraging developing countries to open up their markets to international trade have not been beneficial to these countries, and instead the opening up of their markets exposes these economies to the unforgiving and vicious forces of the global economic system.
Our approach to economic development should be one which allows states to play a developmental role in achieving the economic and social justice development goals.
This means that the state has to play a more central role in social investment, in the strengthening of society’s social infrastructure, including health and education. The state must be active in the areas of land reform and socio- economic transformation.
The geopolitics of this century also requires Africa to be unified in its approach to the democratisation of the global multilateral institutions of governance.
This challenge to the status quo and to put in place something wholly new requires not only the full participation of progressive governments but the mobilisation of the people of the world in their social movements behind an agreed-upon world agenda as a collective global agent for change.
The vision we are articulating therefore requires Africans to work in co-operation to ensure :
A progressive alternative to the Washington consensus and the neo-liberal paradigm ;
The eradication of poverty and unemployment with the immediate objective of meeting the targets of the MDG ;
The African Agenda — people-centred sustainable development and concrete support for NEPAD ;
The cancellation of debt of poor countries ;
A just economic order including the termination of agricultural subsidies and trade barriers ;
Support for peace, democracy and sovereign independence of all nation states ;
Food security ;
Sustainable energy security ;
Action against HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases including drugs, and treatment at affordable prices ;
Action against environmental degradation and climate warming ; and
Gender equality [as an over-riding issue].
These and other campaigns will only be successful if we occupy the political space created by the failure to reform the United Nations and other multilateral bodies.
As a precursor to renewing and strengthening multilateralism we must strengthen the African progressive movement. This demands that we develop a progressive agenda to become more relevant and effective and ensure that people’s pressure is put on governments to achieve the objectives we have identified. Source : NEPAD, september 7, 2007