VERNON Mwaanga has called for an Africa that will earn the respect of its citizens and the world.
Commemorating the Africa Freedom Day which fell yesterday, Mwaanga, a freedom fighter and veteran politician, lamented that the continent which started with visionary leaders had been left with inept ones and dictators.
“We need a vibrant Africa, which will earn the respect of its citizens and the world at large. We started with visionary African leaders, whose sole purpose was to serve the people of Africa and lift them up from the bootstraps of poverty,” he said in a statement. “As African leaders have been changing either through free and fair elections or through rigged elections, we have also witnessed a deterioration in the quality of African leadership, countries have had to lower the offices of President to suit the new and intolerant occupants of state houses. Africa has acquired the unwholesome tag of being the most corrupt continent: bad governance: little or no respect for their people’s human rights: ruthless repression of the independent media – including closing down independent radio stations, TV stations and the print media: using state apparatus to prevent opposition leaders from campaigning freely during elections as permitted by law: reducing Parliaments and judicial systems into rubber stamps. The list of evil deeds is long.”
He bemoaned the high levels of corruption among current African leaders.
“Our founding fathers – most of whom entered immortality a long time ago – must be turning in their graves to see how many of their successors are mismanaging their countries and to see how much ill-gotten wealth they have accumulated at the expense of their desperately poor people,” Mwaanga stated. “I can only hope that the people of Africa will find it in their resolve, hearts and minds to choose their leaders carefully and remember that the independence they are now enjoying was paid for by brave men, women and youth, who paid for it with their lives, blood, sweat and tears.”
He remembered the excitement which was there when the Organisation of African Unity was founded in May 1963, later renamed the African Union in 2001.
Mwaanga explained that there were only very few independent countries on the continent then.
“In 1963, there were still many countries in Africa which had not yet attained independence from their colonial masters and from apartheid. One of the main decisions of the first OAU Summit, was a commitment to fight and liberate the entire continent of Africa from the yoke of colonialism and apartheid, until every inch of Africa was free,” Mwaanga stated. “The leaders also declared their firm commitment to work tirelessly, to uplift the living standards of the people of Africa, by providing them with education, health care, decent housing, clean water and shelter among many others. They recognised that the arbitrary boundaries drawn up by white colonialists, were unsatisfactory, but that they should be accepted in their unsatisfactory state, because reopening the boundary issue, would lead to endless disagreements and wars between African countries, which would be a prescription for dangerous conflicts.”
He stated that since then the continent had gone through dark and turbulent times.
Mwaanga further bemoaned the negative effects of the coronavirus on the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“In a communique which was read by Mr Diallo Telli from the Republic of Guinea, the first elected Secretary General of the OAU, they reaffirmed their commitment to introduce democratic systems of governance, respect freedom of speech, association and opinion. Africa’s population is now estimated at 1.3 billion, slightly less than the population of China and India. A continent of 54 different independent and sovereign countries,” stated Mwaanga. “Our continent has gone through dark and turbulent times. We have had military coups, armed conflicts and wars, which have taken many innocent lives. We have also seen the growth of home and external terrorist groups in a number of countries in West, Central and East Africa such as Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Shabaab. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sub-Saharan Africa was registering impressive GDP growth rates, unfortunately, this economic growth has now been severely impacted by the pandemic, which caught the whole world by surprise. Getting back to economic growth, is going to be a herculean task.”