CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA. The prevalence of conflicts in Africa has been a function of governance and leadership failures, and the authoritarian, violent and oppressive administrative apparatus inherited from the colonial era laid the ideological foundations of post-colonial dictatorships, Agang leader Dr Mamphela Aletta Ramphele said.
The academic and former apartheid activist turned politician was speaking early this week at the Cambridge Associates Global Investment Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
Agang is South Africa’s newly-formed political party, and Ramphele is also an academic and a former high-ranking official of the World Bank.
Ramphele said instead of gaining authority through legitimate and democratic means, post-independence governments embraced strong-arm practices similar to those practiced by the colonial administrations.
The result of this, Ramphele said, is that most countries ended up with oppressive autocrats and dictators who enriched themselves at the expense of their peoples.
The Kranspoort-born academic also slammed African leaders for failing to embrace governance practices that promoted the collective good. “African elites perpetuated a governance ethos that rewarded patronage, personal wealth accumulation and graft,” she said.
“Not only did corruption raise transaction costs, increase security and uncertainty and undermine government actions, it also made both Africans and the rest of the world cynical about African politics and its leaders, and about their commitment to the continent’s development agenda.”
She cited a few examples of resource-rich countries vividly damaged by corruption: Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Angola, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea.
“Thanks to the ‘natural resource curse’, the economies of these countries have been plagued by even more significant levels of income inequality, higher levels of corruption and greater institutional failure,” Ramphele said.
“Natural resource revenues created incentives for rent-seeking behaviour, which encouraged significant levels of corruption and weakened institutions.”
Ramphele’s startling remarks come nearly one month before the African Union (AU) celebrates its 50 years of existence – a milestone anniversary many observers believe should be an occasion to search the continent’s soul for answers to its ‘eternal’ conflicts, rather than ‘champagning’ in Addis-Ababa.
But it would appear that there is no need to look further because the enemies of Africa lie within the African Union itself.
*Photo by Commons Wikimedia. Dr Mamphela Aletta Ramphele, Agang leader and founder.