||Civil Society in and for African Integration
||Foreign Policy Bottom Up
||South African civil society and the globalisation of popular solidarity
A report of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society
Edited by Patrick Bond and Ashwin Desai
Durban, 25 July 2008
At a time of rampant xenophobic attacks in low-income communities, it is hardly appropriate for South Africa to be modeled as a leader in civil society internationalism, is it.
Still, the central theme of our study, the rise of a progressive alternative to the neoliberal and subimperial project embarked upon by the South African government, is even more applicable when we consider xenophobic ‘blowback’: i.e., the boomerang effect that inexorably follows when repression at home is required to deal with the consequences of repression abroad. For as we show below, especially in the last chapter, the strategy of state and capital to draw upon the region for cheap labour, the shoring up of the Zimbabwe regime, and officials’ own treatment of immigrants from the region – especially in the last decade when warnings of xenophobic backlash grew sharper – meant that millions of people without adequately protected civil rights have flooded into post-apartheid South Africa. They have apparently lowered the wage rate considerably, to the delight of capital and anger of workers. The lack of services available in townships and shack settlements is another feature of conflict. The rampant corruption in the Department of Home Affairs adds to tensions. There is no excuse for the way that thousands of xenophobic low-income and working-class South Africans responded, by attacking what they perceived as the primary proximate cause of their problems, the immigrant. There is no excuse for the way that many middle-class people – including researchers from the Human Sciences Research Council - joined the bandwagon.
In contrast, this report is about a new internationalism being forged by South Africa’s grassroots social movements and labour at the beginning of the 21st century.
Patrick Bond and Ashwin Desai
Patrick Bond and Ashwin Desai
Part One: From Racism to Reparations
2. The anti-apartheid movement and global civil society
3. Civil society, the United Nations and WCAR
Ashwin Desai and Peter Dwyer
4. South Africa between a rock and a hard place at WCAR
Dennis Brutus and Ben Cashdan
5. WCAR seen from the US left
6. From WCAR to reparations
7. Reparations strategy
Jubilee South Africa
8. Can reparations for apartheid profits be won in US courts?
Part Two: From Sustainable Development to Eco-Social Justice
9. From WCAR to the WSSD
10. The World $ummit on $ustainable Development
Ashwin Desai and Peter Dwyer
Civil society at an uncivil summit
12. The WSSD’s internecine civil society struggles
Victor Munnik and Jessica Wilson
Part Three: Civil Society meets Multilateral Neoliberalism
13. Why I protested at the World Bank
14. Beyond the New Partnership for Africa’s Development peer review
Eduard Jordaan and Ian Taylor
15. Nepad, the APRM and SA subimperialism: Civil society cooption or resistance?
Part Four: South Africa and the World Social Forum
16. Transnational topographies of power
17. The African Social Forum as site of struggle
18. Mumbai WSF as festival of the masses, 2004
Mondli Hlatshwayo and Oupa Lehulere
19. Have the slaves left the master’s house?
Controversies in Lusaka, 2005
Amanda Alexander and Mandisa Mbali
20. Weaknesses at the Bamako WSF, 2006
21. Women in the Southern African Social Forum, 2006
Maria van Driel
22. What actually happened in Nairobi, 2007
23. The World Social Forum and subaltern life strategies
Franco Barchiesi, Heinrich Bohmke, Prishani Naidoo, Ahmed Veriava
24. Potentials for the World Social Forum
Part Five: Explaining and transcending xenophobia
25. Xenophobia in structural and human terms
26. Xenophobia: A (long) post-apartheid history
|| Civil Society in and for African Integration
Part I: Objectives and Tasks for the 12-month period
To lay the foundation for an inter-African knowledge infrastructure that will create institutional linkages amongst African students, scholars, curriculum, research, training and joint publication with a view of fostering a vibrant intellectual culture and excellence in teaching and research across the continent. In addition to create regional integration in the knowledge sphere and create mobility of staff, students and curriculum so that best practice from one African university transfers to another.
Whilst this general objective remains the main framework for widening and deepening links amongst universities and research centres, the specific objective is to undertake a one year assignment to carry out a pilot regional integration effort involving civil society and the degree of its inclusion and exclusion in the making of the regions (including EU/NEPAD) in Africa.
The major tasks that we need to undertake from September 1, 2003 - to July 30, 2004 are the following:
2.1 Identify institutions, scholars, post-graduate researchers in the continent working on issues of civil society in relation to African integration; prepare a roaster of researchers based on active, potential, senior and junior classifications.
2.2 Construct an electronic archive and repository on civil society and African integration including relevant and pertinent comparative references from other regions in the world.
2.3 Commission studies from selected scholars theorising the linkage between African integration and civil society in order to provide a framework for research and post-graduate training and education.
2.4 Generate a proposal for a five-year period to offer masters and PhD training in civil society and African integration. Identify four or five (?) universities to begin the programme in the different regions of Africa.
2.5 Seek funding for capacity development in civil society participation in relation to integration involving various stakeholder with a view to enhance formal and informal linkages amongst actors from the state, the regional institutions, the academy, private and voluntary sectors.
2.6 Arrange one workshops in each of the four regions and one international conference.
2.7 Produce periodic pieces in popular journals, newspapers and electronic media in a number of publications.
2.8 Generate academic publications based on the commissioned concept papers, workshops and the international conference.
By accomplishing these 8 tasks the main outcome will be to carry out:
a) 4 small workshops and one medium-sized conference
b) To produce a number of publications
c) To establish how an inter-African continental masters programme can be taught on civil society and regional integration: to identify competent and willing personnel and to develop a trial for capacity development training in civil society.
d) To create a research network in order to develop a five-year grant proposal and submit to various funders with continental representation of the universities from such varied sources as Scandinavia, European Union and US foundations.
PART II: Organisation and Travel Arrangements
1) identify co-ordinators
3) researchers from the regions
The main tasks to be accomplished in the first six months are: 1) identification of regional coordinators, 2) in consultation with regional co-ordinators develop a concept paper 3) establish an advisory committee, 4) commission reports/papers, 5) organise regional workshops and 6) prepare the ground for an international conference.
III. Formation of the regional co-ordinators.
The regional co-ordinators include all the members of the six or (five regions):
- South Africa: Adam Habib or Vishnu Padayachee?
- East Africa : Andrew Kiondo
- West/Central Africa (e.g. separate or together): a) we must find a Nigerian
- North Africa : co-ordinator can be Mustafa( Egyptian) if he agrees.
- Diaspora? AU/NEPAD have now accepted the Diaspora as a ‘region!’ (We should perhaps have a friendly debate on this or avoid debate by calling the Diaspora the African (old and new) Diaspora (perhaps!) and representing their interest through Paul Opoku-Mensah.
- Programme Director (CS& AI) : Mammo
All regional co-ordinators must come from Universities. The advisory committee on the other hand can have associates from other research centres and institutes.
Co-ordinators include: Director of CCS, (South Africa) Programme Director of the Civil Society & African Integration (CS&AI), East-Africa, Prof. Andrew Kiondo from Dareselaam University, North Africa, Mustafa: Director of the Centre for Civil Society in developing Countries, Cairo (?) to be confirmed.
Members of the advisory committee will include: staff from Universities, civil society and donors: Roaster to be formed and selection to be made from the visits of Adam,Vishnu & Mammo. Perhaps I can suggest a Representative from CODESRIA?), Roch from Benin, and the Diaspora co-ordinator: Opoku-Mensah from the Diaspora ‘region’, Ford reps in Nigeria or South Africa? Paul suggested Prof. Maria Nzomo (University of Nairobi and a woman). We need to get gender balance. Adam and Vishnu may know appropriate persons, and when the visits we will identify people.
IV. Visits to form the co-ordinating network
The purpose of the visits is to identify a) potential coordinators, b) potential advisory members,c)researchers, d) to recruit for workshop participation and so on.
Region 2- EAST AFRICA
1. Late July- Mammo with Adam or Vishnu- Darselaam University, Kampala (Makerere University Dr. John Brya, Former Director of the Centre for Basic Studies in Kampala, and we can also meet the current director to meet Centre for Basic Research and the founding director Mahmood Mamdani.
We shall try to secure firm agreement and identify what the joint activities will be; explore possibilities for joint masters and list of names that work in the area for Workshops.
REGION 3: WEST AFRICA
V. Mammo with Vishnu or Adam: Visit to begin in late August:
West Africa: Ghana/ Nigeria/ Senegal; time to be arranged by admin staff by CCS. Similar effort to identify the right person for the advisory membership, Renew links with Adebyo at CODESRIA and use his recommendations to meet the relevant scholars in the region.
REGION 4: NORTH AFRICA
VI. Visit to North Africa: Cairo/ Morocco/Algiers. In Cairo University, we can meet Professor Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyid, who has worked on the Concept of Civil Society and Islam I met him at an international workshop in LSE and also in the CODESRIA meeting in Kampala, December 2002.
Mammo with Adam or Vishnu end of September: time to be arranged by admin staff from CCS. Persons to meet for selection of advisory network to be identified. Ford Foundation personnel to be consulted by using the regional offices (e.g, Lagos, Nairobi and JHB)
Region I- South Africa :
Region 5-Diaspora ? October workshop
VII. Co-ordinating /advisory network to be selected, agreement secured and the list of members to be announced and put also in the www at the latest by end of October, 2003.
PART III: The Four Regional Workshops:
- Identify in each region work done in relation to civil society and
- Identify who has worked and who is likely to work and other persons who can be motivated to work in this field in the specific region
- Identify those working on theories of national and transnational civil society
- Theorise civil society in relation to the issue of civil society and
regional/continental economic and political integration - Create national and regional communities of researchers,
- Identify the potential for collaborative research, teaching and publication including the foundation of a mobilising/energising continental journal on Civil society and African Integration
- Identify four individuals that will be commissioned to write on civil society and the regions, and two persons that can produce concept papers on international regional efforts and critically appraise/review the consultations of civil society by the AU/NEPAD processes.
- Use the publications and experience of the regional workshops to contribute to the culmination of an international conference.
Number of participants
The workshops should begin in the afternoon of Thursday and finish in the afternoon of Saturday (2 days meeting in three days time to allow for informal discussions outside the formal meeting context). This will provide opportunity to help people come on time and use Saturday evening/and Sunday for departure including qualifying for APEX fares.
In October, workshop on Diaspora, Civil society and African Integration:
Bergen, Norway (Paul Opkumah-Mensah-lead organiser and member of the advisory network)
- In late November-December, 2003- January, 2004 the workshops will be organised in South Africa, (for the Southern region) Tanzania or Ethiopia (the Eastern region), Nigeria(Lagos) or Senegal (the Western region, Egypt or Libya (the Northern region)
- Late November, South Africa: main contact: Adam, Vishnu & Mammo (AVM)
- Early December, Senegal: main contact: Adebayo
- Early January, Ethiopia: FSS (Forum for Social Science: chairperson of CODESRIA: Zenebeworke & Dessalign Rahmato
- Mid-January, Egypt or Libya
In the workshops the following issues should be discussed stimulated by the lead papers from the workshop participants
1. Conceptualising civil society in relation to regional integration: reconciling local and African citizenship
2. Review of the role civil society played in the regionalisation experience of other continents
3. Defining the state (power valorising), private sector (profit valorising)
and civil society( non-profit valorising), universities(knowledge and training valorising) in relation to developing a multi-stakeholder interaction/transaction in the making of inter-African integration.
4. Civil society in the different regions: variations and similarities of actors, institutions and activity spaces:civil society in the AU/NEPAD process.
5. Comparative analyses of civil society participation in the regional arrangements(voluntary and involuntary regionalisms) .
6. The Diaspora as civil society and continental integration
7. Where in lies effectiveness in civil society: engagement or protest?
8. Civil society for reform, appendage or for emancipation
9. Ideas for implementing post-graduate education on civil society and regional integration
10. Implication for continental integration of involuntary Regional integrations through wars, environmental degradation, economic migrations, refugees and voluntary through trade, cross-border movements of people and animals and resources
NB: we may need to select the above topics specific themes at the time when we produce the programme for the workshops.
PART IV: International Conference
Number of participants
April- May, 2004
Venue: Zanzibar, Prof. Kiondo to take lead in hosting this conference.
Title of conference
The Role of Civil Society Participation in African Integration
Mammo to draft a conference call and distribute to the advisory network (Adam, Vishnu, Paul initially will do!)- very soon!
Conference announcement to be in the www (Mammo to contact Richard Pithouse)
Conference announcement plan to be distributed in the International Political Association/African Political Association in Durban!
Will help to have blurb to network at these conferences to find potential scholars working in civil society and regional integration
Conference announcement in the five workshops including the Bergen meeting in October 2003.
Active soliciting of papers from diverse viewpoints, methodologies and representations
PART V: Publications
- Electronic publishing like a bulletin on civil society and regional integration
- To put all relevant regional integration related civil society documents
- Review articles written on civil society, books and so on and put in the electronic bulletin
- Send to potential list serve subscribers
- Maintain this service through CCS
- Keep announcing the regional workshops
- Keep the international conference in the bulletin
- And when print publications, reviews and other material appear, announce promptly
PART VI: The WWW
- To get a civil society and African integration link site established
- Draft and agree on what to put into it as its features at the latest at the end of June, 2003.
- Select a few papers to post in it
- Staff, advisory network, resource persons, workshops/conferences, publications/ courses and other relevant headings
- Website address
- Publicise that address
- Establish rapid response mechanism
PART VII: Future Plans
1. Prepare a five year research and post graduate programme based on a consortium of inter-African universities from the regions
- Mobility of staff
- Mobility of curriculum
- Mobility of students
2. Create a clear strategy for the knowledge integration to foster regional integration, AU/NEPAD
3. Build knowledge how self-activity to regionalise by various stakeholders can be built: business/industry, the academy, civil society and the state.
4. Develop a curriculum for post-graduate pilot programme
5. Develop a multi-stakeholder capacity development programme: try a
pilot study programme at the CCS in Natal
6. From the experience of the Civil Society & African Integration, develop policies for inter-African university connections by freeing existing rigidities and making both knowledge and people flow.
||African Integration in and For Civil Society: Bulletin 2
||By Mammo Muchie:
“Let justice be done to Africa and in Africa though the heavens fall” adapted from a Roman saying
Two obstacles remain as a sore preventing Africa from entering the phase of self-reliant development: irrational fragmentation from a casual tearing up of the continent into incoherent real estates of the Africans and dependence on donors to finance African development. The two are dialectically linked. Weak and fragmented states depend on external sources of aid largely unable and not often in a position to mobilise internal resources. Political fragmentation has created unviable economic entities. Conversely lack of success in economic development has created weak political structures, developments and so-called failed states.
For over half-a century now, it has been proposed that Pan-African political unity is the necessary remedy to overcome fragmentation. It is the only basis for mobilising Africa’s own resources and asserting its exclusive use for Africa’s own development. It is the defence that can potentially prevent internal and external robbery of Africa’s rich mineral and agricultural resources by evolving a common and legitimate African economic strategy that will challenge the problem of having to rely from weakness on those external actors that neither have the intention nor the desire in financing Africa’s integrated development.
Here it will be argued why we need to begin to think differently to find alternatives to dependence on donor funding to finance African development. The actual donor assistance to date has always been often very little and is usually not fulfilled. This has been recognised as a fact by even some of the leaders in Africa.
For example, at the UN Financing for Development meeting, in Monterrey Mexico March, 2002, the chimera and illusion of financing development was played out with the usual razzmatazz and expensive conference farce. Bush. No.2 declared he would increase aid from 0.1 to 0.13 of American GNP. But his pledge to increase aid came after signing a farm bill subsidising US agribusiness to the tune of $180 billion dollars over the next decade! On the one hand, the US imposes trade barriers on the poor world, on other hand it extends its charity by a mere $5 billion dollars! Such a small increment was hailed as a big deal despite the fact that the US is still way down at the bottom in reaching UN recommended aid of 0.7 % of the GNP of the rich countries!
If African economies were to grow by 7 % annually, they will be on the way to fulfil the millennium goals. In Abuja some twenty heads of states reaffirmed that the external contribution to assist this projected accelerated growth will be 64 billion dollars. Considering that aid is given with a logic of keep them coming back for more and a fractional amount far short of the request, what makes our leaders think they will get more this time? The entire annual aid budget ($50billion!) for the developing world is less than the Abuja figure. The UN recommended 0.7% aid plan (that translates roughly to $110 billion dollars annually) have never been implemented. Bush No.2‘s trumpeted aid increase is more a public relations exercise than substance. The basic situation and existing pattern of relations obtains, and the new action is no more than a gesture or nod to alter it. Why do our leaders continue to nurture a grand illusion? As the Indian delegate at Monterrey said, developing countries are like a man drowning in a 20 meters deep sea. The rich countries should provide a 20 meters rope if they really want to rescue. But the aid giver has invariably given time and time again something like a 9 meters rope? That will not stop the recipient from drowning and the donor cannot feel proud that he has given enough to save any drowning aid-seeker.
Aid supports the aid giver, rarely the recipient, unless it is in emergency situations and disasters! That has been the brutal record of the North’s relationship with Africa. Moreover, the leaders seem to be blind to the fact what Africa needs is not more aid, but to stop aiding others such as Europe or America that use and rig aid in order to permit net transfer of resources from Africa. As long as aid comes with conditions for capital to seek out profitable opportunities by side stepping public policy action, it will not invest in the areas for improving the well being of Africa’s ordinary people. The African strategy should be to use resources to meet the basic needs of the people: food, clothing, roads, electricity, water, housing, education, health and so on. Before seeking billions elsewhere and wish to tie the continent to the debt regime, Africa’s local resources should be identified and tapped. Africa’s own resources- that others have helped themselves for ages- should be rescued and re- used for improving the lives of the ordinary people of Africa. Africa needs a new concept of prosperity where what matters is not accumulation of wealth per se in ever fewer and fewer hands but building with iron determination the wellbeing of the people. The economic and social policy to follow is that which brings an integrated African life-world of community and solidarity by meeting the basic needs of all: clean water, sanitation, electricity, food, clothing, housing, learning and clinics. Africa needs to use its own land, minerals, bio-diversity, forests to satisfy the needs of its people and not allow genetic erosion, bio-piracy and other deleterious practices to repress its possibilities and future. Africa is already inside the loan-grant and debt regime. Asking for more of the same is to lack imagination, to surrender hope that there is no better way for Africa to constitute its own wellbeing. Aid including foreign direct investment comes with conditions that often contradict domestic social policy to spend for the wellbeing of ordinary people. The World Bank has recently decried that aid to Africa is falling. Not only does the aid become miss-directed by stringent conditions, but also it has been too scant and falling to matter. Our leaders’ expectation that this will change may be to nurse illusions, if not simply foolhardy. At any rate, unless the aid is under the strict control of domestic public policy, it will be difficult to direct it productively to meet basic human needs. The aid giver knows this and often the conditions of distancing and neutralising the state by trumpeting the free market theology is stated before the amount is announced and the committed resources disbursed. This is precisely what transpired in Monterrey. The conditions were stated loud and clear. And the new pledge of 5 billion dollars from Bush no.2 and 7 billion dollars from EU fell far short of the UN target of raising an additional 50 billion dollars! Constant in the equation: Aid = conditions that divert policy to impact on development + scant pledges + maximum press self-advertisement. The IFIs enforce this equation holds using the stick of aid against African countries.
The current situation in Africa is proof of the failure of the logic of loans and aid, said President Wade of Senegal.1 It is welcome news that some of our elected leaders are starting to question the anomaly: that Africa has been borrowing largely not to develop but to pay and service debt. The loan and aid industrial complex has evolved into a self-serving colossus deflecting Africa's aspiration to be free and to embark on a real development trajectory. Today, the average African is said to owe twice more debt to external creditors-roughly about 400 dollars per person- than the per capita income earnings of the population.2 Africa's overall debt is also said to be more than twice the share of debt of the entire developing world.3 The UN acknowledged that: Despite recent action for the reduction of African debt, including the enhanced HIPC (heavily indebted poor countries) initiative, a permanent exit from debt problems is proving elusive.4 Twelve African states have debt over 100 % of their GDP. The enormous difficulty in converting the vicious circle of debt into a virtuous circle of development has given rise to renewed alarm bells that Africa is becoming newly enslaved, this time, by the International Financial Institutions (IFIs). The IMF, World Bank and WTO want to maintain the existing system; but Africa can benefit only if the system changes by accommodating its interests. If Africa is to claim the 21st century, it has to find a new pattern of relationship with the donors and their IFIs that unties Africa’s hands from pursuing the pan-African goals of complete emancipation.
There appears to be a recognition that Africa cannot go on with a system that mortgages its future to debt and debt services. There is no alternative to searching to solve Africa' problems primarily with ones own initiatives, resources, inventive capabilities and imagination. If the President Wades of Africa want to enframe Africa's developmental agenda with an African detailed action plan, we should cheer them. Like the 1980 Lagos Plan of Action before it, the New African Initiative (NAI) renamed as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) contains the latest official plan to move Africa with a new upbeat spirit to establish new patterns of links with Europe, Japan and America. Will NEPAD face a counter-blast from the IFIs as the Lagos Plan of Action before it faced with the World Bank’s Berg Report (1981) or is NEPAD sufficiently non-threatening to the political economy of these agencies as to get around their disquiet? While official Africa through NEPAD seeks new partnerships, the mere recognition of the pitfalls of the existing untenable ties of the continent to the IFIs is not enough. There will be still many hurdles on the road for launching an agreed strategy to make Africa free to re-invent a modern African civilisation from Africa’s status of generalised oppression.
A Strategy for Africa to set its own Priorities
Africa's new relationship with the rest of the world will be born when Africans learn to neutralise the harm that the unholy trinity of loans, aid and debt has done to them. One key initiative African leaders can take collectively is to establish a dual currency system that can largely self-finance an integrated African development. The currency for the domestic economy should be an inconvertible people's money. The existing state currencies that are not exchanged directly with each other, and whose exchange rate is mediated with the dollar, the frank and the Euro, should give way to direct exchanges based on a fair settlement of the appropriate par value. Naturally, diversities, inequalities, different levels of development, differing attitudes and interests present problems in constructing a workable unified currency system.
It is precisely to deal with these varied problems that Africa needs a currency system to create liquidity. The direct exchange of local currencies promotes the exchange of private labours across Africa. The exchange of the local to local currency via a global currency continues to fragment Africa and integrate discrete interests and regions with the world economy. The key is to find strategies for Africa to integrate with a world economy as a whole and not in parts.
The domestication of the foreign orientation of the existing national currencies is necessary to make Africa re- link with the world economy on its own terms and not terms dictated by others. Monetary union is a key strategy to bring about a new relationship. Its proper construction requires bountiful political will that we cannot take for granted exist given the ties and propensity of the existing states not to pursue real collective action that matters. Differences in economic size and significance of the existing 53 states cannot be shunned aside. In principle, large and small economies can enter into a unified system without loss. As long as a situation of 'being better off for some without being worse off for all' exists for all those embarking on currency union, negotiations for a peaceful and evolutionary monetary system can proceed. At all costs states should not demand parity between large economies and small economies. The objective is in the end to evolve into a unified market, unified currency area and unified economic zone. However, the move must be sensible and realistic and various domestic constituencies and their external supporters within the existing states have to be brought along by initiating a programme of fair, gradual and transparent African-wide currency or monetary union. If the cost and benefits for the various sections of social groups can be fairly worked out, possibilities exist even to neutralise transnational actors, who will no doubt be worked up by the suggestion for a monetary union.
If this domestication programme for monetary arrangements is not done well, it will create disaffection, riots, or even such dislocations as war. For example, when Eritrea created the Nakfa, it wanted a 1:1 exchange rate with the Ethiopian Birr. But the Ethiopian Government did not find that as a fair settlement. They insisted that such direct pegging is not fair. In the end the exchange rate of the Nakfa to the Birr has been fixed through the US dollar. The ensuing quarrel on this issue, amongst others, is said to have contributed to a needless war. There is thus an important case for moving gradually, to make room for proper adjustment and to settle fairly reasonable exchange rate ratios by preparing the political and economic preconditions for currency union.
There are innumerable informal, spontaneous and voluntary cross-border transactions in Africa. Most of those engaged in such transactions would prefer exchanging their goods for hard currencies such as dollars or franks. This is often related to the pegging of local currencies with the US dollar and French frank. An African currency that can be built up to serve as a sort of local dollar or frank will stimulate the domestic market and the communication amongst African regions, peoples, communities, markets and states.
Once agreed to embark on the process to make a unified currency, adjustments can be negotiated, trust can be built and exchange rates can be settled. The unified currency will assist gradually to overcome the limitation of many weak currencies with a new money serving as a unit of account, a store of value, means of payment and means of circulation convertible within Africa.
The Case for an Inconvertible African Currency
African economies continue to import and export vertically and not horizontally with each other. This structure reflects also a largely unchanged trade pattern between Africa's primary products and manufactured products from the western world. Economic diversification is still a job waiting to be done. The weakness of African currencies is tied to the lack of a diversified economic structure. The price of foreign money is high and the price of local money is low. For example, the French frank is 100 times the local CFA frank in West and Central Africa. One Euro is CFA 665.957. Tourists and real estate dealers with French franks or Euros can purchase services and local assets in Africa with a couple of thousands of these notes. Africans wishing to import French and Western goods will want to get hold of French franks (and now Euros) as their money is too weak to purchase foreign goods. African exports should be cheaper but with so many tariff barriers to Africa's primary and semi-manufactured goods and worsening terms of trade, and unchanging commodity portfolios, the advantage of devalued local currencies is neutralised. Africa in the CFA zone largely loses both in its exports and imports based on the existing arrangements.5
Money and financial flows still occur between Africa and the west rather than within Africa itself. This pattern has been reinforced by the system of Africa's dependence on loans, grants and debt. When debt repayment becomes a priority, the political economy of the interest of the international financial institutions( IFIs) becomes paramount. When improvement of the standard of livelihood of the population is a priority, social spending will be necessary to bring it about. However, despite the rhetoric by the IFIs as friends of the poor following policies of poverty reduction, loans through such schemes as the heavily indebted poor countries schemes (HIPCs), policies of structural adjustment have been followed, in reality, at the expense of social spending for development. Africa has been confronted with a stark constraint: a policy structure that has privileged debt repayment over development. International politics and economics have forced this policy choice over a Pan-African alternative. To maintain or to change this policy structure is an important issue confronting Africa in the 21st century. The Pan-African quest is to change the African situation, while the IFIs want to retain the status quo of debt- payment as a priority under the guise of the poverty-reduction rhetoric. Debt-repayment distorts African economic policy in the direction of producing the things Africa cannot consume and to consume the things it cannot produce. It leads to the spawning of a domestic elite that revels in luxury consumption unwilling to forgo whiskies, cars and other private comforts for the production and development that service the wellbeing of ordinary people. It leads to a new political economy of the syndicate. The latter designates the symbiotic relation of the domestic elite in relation to the external funders: the international elite centred within the IMF, World Bank and the WTO. Together the syndicate (whatever the misgiving between and within) promotes export-orientation, the economic bible of comparative advantage and competitiveness to solve Africa's piling debt with yet more and more loans based on more and more stringent conditions.
The advice from the international elite is to keep the capital account of African states open and unregulated. This furthers the vulnerabilities of Africa's economies to fall prey to cyclical fluctuations in the world economy. They become easy victims to fast movements of speculative finance that episodically ravishes whole economies like gales. The existing 53 state monetary arrangements in Africa are too fragmented to withstand powerful movements in world finance and business cycles.
There has to be a creative way of breaking out of this trap for Africa. We backcast to look for any past attempts to forge currency unions in order to forecast feasible alternatives to get Africa going.
Monetary Union is not new in Africa!
Prior to the programmatic call by Nkrumah to set up a monetary union on an African scale in May, 1963, there have been a number of attempts to set up monetary unions in different regions of Africa.
The origin of the modern monetary unions is traceable to the colonial encounter between Europe and Africa. The most enduring currency union has been that managed by France. Those started by Britain and South Africa seemed to have lacked continuity from the colonial to the post-colonial periods.
France planted the roots of the CFA Frank zone in 1945. This was a result of a decision by the French colonial Government to crowd out the various local currencies and establish the ‘frank’ as the sole money legally tender throughout the French colonies of West and Central Africa since 1948!
France retained its control over the monetary arrangement of its West and Central African ex-colonies in the 60s by creating two regional currencies that retained cleverly the ‘CFA frank’ designation in both regions. The exchange rate between the ‘ CFA franks’ of the West African Monetary Union and the Central African Monetary Area were made equal-both maintaining the same parity against the French Frank and capital can move freely between the two regions. Both monetary areas have since comprised what France calls the ‘African Financial Community,’ where each currency is only legal tender in its own region, despite the currencies being jointly managed by the French Treasury as integral parts of a single monetary union.
Though France was not a member of the CFA itself, its Ministry of Finance held the operational accounts and the foreign-exchange reserves of the Central Banks of West and Central Africa. France insured convertibility of ‘CFA frank’ at a fixed price, set and controlled rules for credit withdrawal and maintained a ratio of 50:1 between the CFA frank and the French frank for half a century. In 1994 there was a devaluation of the ‘CFA frank’ to the ‘French frank’ by a ratio of 100:1. In January 1999, the CFA was pegged to the ‘Euro’ rather than the ‘French frank’, but in all other respects the French Ministry of Finance retained substantive control over the ‘CFA frank’ zones. The Euro seems to have been introduced via France into West and Central Africa two years before twelve of its members began to use it as legal tender this year.
The British also had created a less successful East African Currency Board in 1919 and issued a common currency unit, the East African Shilling, as legal tender in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda. After independence in the 60s, the common currency area broke apart. Efforts to mend the break up are still continuing with the re-establishment of the East African Community.
In addition during the 1920s the then independent Republic of South Africa collaborated with the colonial powers to create a common monetary area. The Common Monetary Area embraced South Africa, former British colonies Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland and the then German colony, Namibia. After decolonisation in the late 60s, the ‘Rand Monetary Area’ was formed in 1974, though diamond –rich Botswana was not in it preferring to set up the ‘ pula’ as a national money. The monetary union based on the rand has gradually loosened into an exchange rate union and appears to falter as a sustainable monetary union.
The division of Africa into currency zones has eased largely through the demise of the sterling area. However, the frank zone is still active and the dollar has moved into hitherto sterling areas and even in the CFA frank zones. Both the dollar and the ‘frank cum Euro’ will not easily give up their control of Africa. In particular France will not easily give up its exclusive hegemony over much of West and Central Africa comprising together some fourteen existing states. The pegging of CFA franks to the Euro has not loosened the French grip over the monetary area. Such continued French grip can affect the effort to create a big-bang evolution into an African monetary system
It is interesting to note that more efforts were made during the colonial period to create currency unions than in the period of political independence. The fact that Africa was diverted from following Pan-African directions in the post-colonial period meant that projects for currency unions to create liquidity to finance inter-African development were abandoned. Part of the problem was continued pressure from the ex- colonial powers. The British pound in Western Africa was used to punish nationalist regimes like Ghana prompting the creation of the cidi when Britain devalued the West African pound.
Principles for an African monetary union
· A unified African currency must be built as stable so that all those engaged in transaction can benefit without inflation and/or deflationary pressures.
· Acts of discrimination and restrictions on legitimate or lawful transactions in all markets must be forbidden.
· The trade system within Africa must be open, free and fair and the African security environment should sustain this freedom of internal trade and investment.
· There must be an agreement for the leading members of the AU community to guarantee and underwrite the smooth and stable functioning of an African currency. These leading members can be selected from the regions. The selection of the members has to be based on consensus and consent.
· The transition from the state-based currency system to the African monetary system must be based on lawful, non-dislocational and evolutionary strategy. The transition must be voluntary based on principles of persuasion, consent and the pursuit of common objectives.
· The transition from the use of current state -based currency arrangements to a unified one requires that states are willing and committed to co-ordinate monetary, interest and budgetary policies amongst themselves. They understand that currency integration adds to their sovereignty rather than subtract it. Both the dual currency and the currency union will be used for helping to insulate states from borrowing to fall in debt by creating Africans own liquidity to finance Africa’s development.
· The African monetary union will resist existing African monetary arrangements that mirror the breakdown and fragmentation of African economies as they are today. The currency union will also resist the lingering domination of the ties and habits of relations with ex-colonial powers.
· The currency union has to deal with the impact on Africa of the contention and competition of the dollar, the Euro and the yen for global influence. The dollar has an overall overarching influence in the continent today in that in some countries it is freely used as a means of exchange as in the USA. This shows that if there is no unified currency union, Africa will be a battleground between the Euro and the dollar. The Yen may not be as influential as the Euro and the dollar in Africa, but it is there in the wings. These three currencies will compete in Africa and the AU must prepare the ground to found a currency union to protect Africa’s developmental aspirations.
Pan-African Monetary Union
It is time to pick up monetary or currency union as part and parcel of the African Union national project. For a monetary union on an African scale, the African Union has to authorise an African Central Bank to issue a currency unit (call it, if you like an Afro or something else) that can serve as a principal medium of exchange, unit of account and store of value for the whole continent. The strategy is to join together African states into a kind of monetary marriage. An African monetary union is one important way of moving closer to making the Pan-African vision a reality.
The necessary conditions for making moves towards a Pan-African monetary union are:
· The smooth transition of power from France and EU to integrate the CFA frank zone to the African Union without breaking up the common monetary area. In addition, to upgrade, adjust and persuade the states in the rand monetary area and other bilateral and multilateral efforts such as the East African common market to join the all-African monetary system
· A new liquidity creating mechanism backed by Africa’s mineral resources and African Union confidence building measures to support an African currency to circulate freely in the member states.
· A determined effort to re-linkwith the IMF, countries like France or the European Union on their clear acceptance of Africa’s national developmental priorities and not Africa’s continued indebtedness to them by preventing them to take a leading role in designing an all-African currency union
· To negotiate the par value amongst the Euro, the dollar and the African currency for the purposes of managing Africa’s foreign trade in the service of African development with the rest of the world
· To control the authority of adjustment of the African currency to the dollar and Euro in the AU
· To establish a strict control over the external flow of Africa’s currency by making its sole value to assist the development of Africa
· To phase out gradually the existing currencies within the 53 African states
· To create and manage a dual currency system where like the Chinese yuan, the African currency is inconvertible by becoming a unit of account and means of payment for stimulating inter-African trade and investment. There should be a build up of foreign reserves backed by mineral wealth and the growth of Africa's labour productivities from which a foreign transaction account can be kept for the purpses of trading outside Africa.
The key importance of a currency union and an inconvertible African currency is to make it possible to raise domestic financing by enlarging the domestic market and stimulating a comprehensive and an integrated development of the continent. The currency has to be legal tender across Africa, and requires an African consensus to make it work. Above all, what is needed is a political will to imagine and construct an African general will. The political consensus is overriding to make the compelling economic and organisational case to establish the African currency and monetary union a reality.
Africa’s monetary union is not conceived to join together existing currencies but to overcome the weaknesses of the admittedly weak and fragmented existing currencies. It falls within the strategy in bringing about change where Africans are able to exchange their private labours in order to consume the products of their own creations rather than the numerous luxury products their elite's consume coming from outside by manipulating foreign exchange. The monetary arrangement can be designed in such a way that Africans consume the products they produce, and discourage them from consuming luxury items for the few who own foreign dollars and Euros.
The dual currency model
The monetary and currency union is part and parcel of the realisation of the African Union project. The African Union will have to authorise an African Central Bank to issue a currency unit (call it the Afro, if you like) that can circulate across the continent. This currency is convertible only within Africa. The purpose is to bring about rapid inter- African integration. It should have a shadow as opposed to real foreign exchange price to the dollar, frank, sterling and yen for the purposes of domestic circulation and means of payment. Exchange rate par value and convertibility should be confined for transactions between Africa and the rest of the world through a foreign exchange reserve fund. The AU should create and manage a dual currency system:the domestic currency with the currency for trade with extra-African regions. Such a dual currency system, like the Chinese Yuan in the 1980s, would make Africa respond to the challenges of domestic mobilisation of financing as well as countering external assistance to turn into piles of debt. The convertible African currency stimulates Africa to respond to the global environment positively and the same currency in its inconvertible form stimulates raising domestic finances to make a bottom-up transformation of Africa where Africans learn to appreciate and value products, knowledge , trade and investment in Africa itself.
The foreign exchange reserve account should be managed by a African Central Bank. Foreign money, assistance, borrowing and transactions for import and export should be drawn from this reserve foreign exchange fund. This fund can be built up through a variety of sources: a) international assistance, b) African reserves backed by Africa's mineral wealth, c) Africa's expected rise in labour productivity, d) possible African Central Bank ‘ex-nihilio’ credit creation, and e) the use of a variety of treasury bonds and e-commercial activities. The AU should authorise an African Central Bank to negotiate the par value amongst the Euro, the dollar and the African currency for the purposes of managing Africa’s foreign trade in the service of African development with the rest of the world.
Such a dual strategy for liquidity generation can, if managed well, insulate Africa from the debt trap. The peoples’ inconvertible money can circulate Africans private activities free from piling up any internal debt. The convertible foreign exchange reserve funding account can be prudently managed to keep at arms-length the IMF and other private bankers from manipulating Africa’s priorities into debt payment. Instead of loans, debt and aid, the main prop for creating liquidity to finance African development becomes Africa’s mineral resources, its labour productivity and African Union confidence building measures.
A determined effort to re-link with the IMF, countries like France or the European Union on the basis of the dual curre
||African Integration in and For Civil Society: Bulletin 3
||By Mammo Muchie: Director, Research programme on Civil Society in and for African Integration, CCS & SoDS, University of Natal
Since the 1980s a global neo- liberal agenda has dominated the world’s intellectual, political and moral space and vision. One of the consequences of this neo- liberal hegemony is the double and simultaneous global construction of the ‘failed’ state and the assumption of “success” in favour of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the ‘vibrant’ civil society. The state was demoted; civil society along with the market was promoted. State failure was decried; civil society stakeholder failure was largely ignored by an unverified and empirically unsubstantiated attribute of “ some metaphysical benign goodness” to NGOs. As a consequence, as many of the functions of the state as possible migrated to the sphere of civil society actors. Donor funding shifted from the state to civil society. The state was morally condemned. More of it was seen as a problem. Less of it was seen as necessary. The state was exhorted to be lean and minimal. The global discourse urged that the state reduce itself, maintain macro economic stability through balance of payment adjustment, promote the complete privatisation of the economy, come out of failure by learning to create state capacity through “good governance” and create an enabling environment for private actors and civil society. Never mind how a failed, weak, renter or collapsed state can do all these things is difficult to fathom.
Principally, the discourse of the ‘failed state’ and the discourse of the ‘successful civil society’ have been globally constituted. The global constitution of ‘failure and success’ betrays more an ideological preference than a real description of the reality on the ground. I shall look at the factors considered for establishing a discourse of ‘failure and success’ with respect to the state and civil society relationships in Africa. In addition the discourse of ‘failure and success’ will be examined in relation to the need for establishing coherence and creative partnership between state and society in integrated and emancipated Africa.
I shall try to examine the possible conflicts implicit between the global narratives of ‘failure and success’ and the local development of civil society. Does the global influence distort the local evolution of civil society and the state in partnership? It appears that the description of the state as ‘failed’ and by implication civil society as a potential social space for ‘success’ by external actors introduces two problems. The first is the right of ownership to discourse formation: that is, it is related to the relative weight of internal and external contributions to frame discourses that shape the interaction of internal and external political and social forces. Is there a taking away of the right to define by local actors, on the basis of their own knowledge and cultural assumptions? What is the proper domain and competence of the state and civil society spheres respectively? What is the relationship of the triad: state, civil society and the market? What is the relationship of a failed state, free market and successful NGOs? The second is the manufacturing of a new political economy through donor funding where state and civil society become engaged in tensions and conflicts rather than being able to promoting partnership and social cohesion.
Donors feed finance and consultants to shape civil society according to their own images. Some international NGOs set up their own local offices. Local NGOs are threatened with international NGOs. NGO-dom, in effect, becomes something like a new social space for making a living. There may be thus a scramble to create NGOs for reasons of self-employment rather than promoting a social or cultural cause. Even within local NGOs, there appears to be those that are funded by Western Government and Foundations and those that may not have this opportunity. People with the same qualifications but with different connections with Western Governments and foundations earn different salaries. This creates resentment and division among the local actors engaged in the NGO building industry. A shared understanding is lost. Civil society becomes a terrain for the different articulation and validation of private interests with new enclosure and barriers for inclusion and communication amongst large swathes of civil groups occupying roughly the same social status and role. It turns into an arena of battles amongst similar groups who are divided with income and funding differential due to relations with foreign sources or otherwise.
The global mode of constituting civil society and state relationship in terms of the frames, narratives, discourses, rhetoric and metaphors of ‘failure and success’ needs to be questioned. Civil society itself as it is being constituted by the global discourse of donors requires questioning.
Alternative development of civil society based on local definitions, knowledge and cultural assumptions for the creation of social cohesion and coherence ought to be explored. A strong partnership between civil society and developmental state provides a necessary framework for constructing social cohesion/coherence in Africa.
Thus central to the argument made here is to construct a model illustrating the development of a specific global African working out of the state-society dialectic and tension. The global constitution of the African state-society relation gives primacy to external actors to define and shape the connection. That may contribute to the construction of a relationship that may not sustain co-operation between state and society in relation to promoting democracy and development. A Pan-African constitution of the state and society nexus has the advantage of defining and shaping the relation by making Africa’s interest at the centre. Pan-Africanism builds upon the knowledge and life worlds of Africa’s pristine communities. It provides the shared anchorage of values for constructing ethically worthy and locally rooted and competent institutional arrangements to promote the concept of free and self-reliant Africa.
Taming the Power of Discourse
Discourse has an intrinsic power to frame, set parameters, suggest agenda, help select policy options and legitimize outside intervention especially by those who are able and can manufacture, name and control the discourse. Throughout the post-war period, there have been a number of powerful discourses competing to control the normative content and related social practices regarding the way economic, social, political and economic changes can, do and should take place in Africa. These discourses were non-intravenous and did not include the native concepts and beliefs of Africans. They in fact tried to undermine and reject the core of native self-confidence.
In the nineteenth century colonialism brought the discourse of ‘ civilizing mission’, the ‘ white man’s burden,’ to shape Africa's political and economic future. In the post war period there were the discourses of ‘development, the third world, democracy’- each in its own way has dominant discourse generators and discourse receivers showing clearly who has agency and who lacks it. The colonizer, the developed, the first world and the democratic have been made out to possess agency, the knowledge, the freedom and power to set the agenda and select the terms of intervention. The colonized, the underdeveloped, the non- western democratic arrangements have been defined as the objects of intervention and not the subject of history.
In the same vein, starting from the 1990s ‘civil society and good governance’ have been the latest discourses that are being promoted along with globalization and economic liberalization and political democratization in Africa.
In the good governance discourse, civil society emerges as the key link between economic liberalisation and democratisation; it is both the locus of economic growth and vitality and the seedbed of democracy. The weakness of civil society on the African continent is blamed on the states of past development strategies. The dominance of the state is seen to have prevented the growth of autonomous organisations, which in turn enabled state officials in many countries to serve ‘their own interests without fear of being called into account’ (World Bank, 1989:60).
Civil society is regarded as a ‘countervailing power’ to the state, a way of curbing authoritarian practices and corruption, hence the concern for strengthening or nurturing civil society” (Abraham’s, 2000:52).
Civil society has become one of the most prominent global concepts that have been promoted by every spectrum of thinking and belief. It has become everything and nothing- a dusty old concept being brushed to provide legitimacy to all sorts of interest groups that are not core actors as part of Government and/or business. Ernest Gellner calls
civil society…a dusty term, drawn from antiquated political theory, belonging to long, obscure and justly forgotten debates.” (Gellner, 1994: 5)
Civil society has become an old idea, made newer by a plethora of terms such as revival, renaissance, rebirth and reemergence in the last twenty years. Its origin is traceable to Aristotle and seems to have been fully integrated in the political philosophy of Hegel. (Cohen & Arato, fourth printing 1997:92) As a discourse civil society refers to the sphere and life-world of actors that do not form the direct function/activity of the economy and the state. It also refers to the way actors understand their role in society outside the core economic (profit-making) and political (power-augmenting) spheres.
Is this new discourse helpful to institutionalize democracy and development in Africa? Does the latest discourse on civil society accord agency to political and social actors internally in Africa or do the global social and political actors retain their monopoly of the framing of discourses on civil society and the terms of thinking and speaking about them in relation to the ambition of delivering social change in Africa. Is there a discourse continuum from colonialism to civil society in Africa or can civil society unlock local agency and free society from being constituted by the global discourse of social and political actors? Is this a case of Eurocentric diffusionism; a concept validated for its superiority and ethical worth validated in its home base of Europe to civilize natives in Africa?
Home grown civil society has been challenged by the post-colonial state that has now become a subject of critical commentary itself by the same forces that grafted it on African soil in the first place. There is a need to domesticate the state, economy and society in Africa and construct partnerships and cooperation amongst them rather than build contentious, fragmented and conflictual assumptions, meaning, significance and context for them.
The aim is to find ways, in which civil society in the African milieu may encourage the voiceless to express their own voices, define their own problems and capture it as their own discourse. It has to be appropriated locally and must make sense in the local environment to enlist the genuine participation of the people in matters that affect their life-worlds.
Civil society has to be re-invented and must be adapted to the local environment of an integration-seeking Africa.
The advantage or disadvantage in using the language of civil society is ultimately interwoven with the project of creating free and integrated Africa. If it leads to the domination of Africa by others or continues the discourse of domination from earlier times, then civil society must be questioned. This questioning and dusting off of the concept is essential. Civil society can be a means of control or liberation in Africa. It matters how the concept is appropriated and for whom and by whom? The risk is real that it can be used along with the other ideas and strategies of control that international and domestic social and political actors have forged in some explicitly stated or tacitly understood interest intersection, coincidences or even collusion amongst themselves. That danger has to be obviated by linking civil society in the African context to the project of emancipation and forging African integration guided by a Pan-African imagination.
MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL: A Definition of Civil Society
Civil society is one of the most contested and controversial concepts in social theory. The diverse way in which the exposition of the concept has evolved has not, however, prevented its wide diffusion throughout the world. Its spread in Africa via the agency of transactional actors makes it opens to mis-use, abuse and interpretation. Civil society has been taken as the sphere par excellence for habituating or embedding the ideas of development and democracy. In Africa it has been made to anchor the good governance agenda as well. All of them are underscored by the concept of Eurocentric diffusionism. The challenge is to convert them into home grown ideas to create new emmancipatory social relations in integrated Africa.
Civil Society for Free Africa
Can Africa claim the 21st century? Even the World Bank has asked this question recently as one of the titles of its reports. The Millennium has given impetus to search for meta- narratives to unlock the latent energy and inner resources of the continent to move it with the temper of the times for constructing a durable future. We are treated to a variety of upbeat metaphors such as the African Renaissance, Omega Plan, Millennium Africa Project (MAP) and the New African Initiative. Above all the rubicorn has been crossed with the important step to transform the OAU into the AU. Together the talk and the walk provide a new vitality and urgency to promote the concept of a free and united Africa. Africa can be fully free if it is fully united. The key is to translate this idea into dynamic institutional arrangements capable of self- correction, learning, self-adjustment and self-reliant innovation. Civil society, the state and the economy and their relations have to serve this double objective of freeing and uniting Africa.
The Concept of an African State
Historical Africa had empires and communities. Enslaved Africa had crumbling empires and communities mostly ran by chiefs. Colonial Africa had been defined by the hyphenation of British, French, German, Portuguese, Belgian and Italian Africa. Decolonised Africa affirmed the divisions of the 1885 Berlin Treaty as the territorial basis of the independent state while rejecting the colonial rulers who casually tore up the continent.
The ensuing post- colonial state did all it could to create order and manufacture a fractional nation out of the composite African nation. As time goes by, it became harder and harder to manufacture nations out of the divided African society and community by using the mobilising ethos of the post-colonial state. Governments have been largely run by one party system, the military and even by personalised dictatorships. Change of Government was not orderly for the most part. It was often violent and unpredictable. Most of the states got their countries mixed up in the Cold War. The state became part of the problem unable to control the instability that was induced by Super Power competition. Western powers selected loyal allies such as Mobutu by planning the murder of the duly and legally elected Pan- African national leader, Patrice Lumumba. This became the pattern frightening African leadership to side with either the West or the East and, ironically not with AFRICA!
For example, those who murdered Lumumba and enthroned Mobutu were fully aware that destabilising the Congo basin is equal to administering a fatal heart attack to Africa. To paraphrase Fanon, Africa is like a revolver, and the Congo basin is the trigger. And who ever control the trigger controls Africa. If Africa's detractors could not control the Congo for themselves, they spoil it for others specially those they know are true Africans who stand for African interest and aspirations. That is why they stimulate through arms trade and export a situation of unending armed conflict, thereby creating a permanent negative imposition on life, history, civil society, territory and above all, the African spirit.
African State Failure: A Self- Fulfilling Prophecy?
Most of the African states have joined the roll call of the hundreds of failed states that the CIA identified in 1994 by establishing the State Failure Task Force. The latter had the mandate to carry out the most comprehensive study of state failure. The Task Force identified 113 cases of state failure during 1957-1994. Most of these are from Africa. The factors supposed to trigger state failure by the CIA's task force include: ethnic war, genocide, politicides, and adverse or disruptive regime changes. If a state is integrated into the open world economy, if it is democratic and with a lower mortality rates- it is assumed to contain possibilities to stem the tide of failure.
The US, the International Financial Institutions and other Donors seem to follow a strategy of making the failed state to fail more rather than to emerge as a successful state. The state was forced to withdraw from the economy but was also entrusted to oversee the divestiture of public assets. It is seen as incompetent to manage the economy, but competent to select the buyer of public assets. By making the state withdraw from the economy, politics and economics were ruptured. The state was caught in a catch -22 time warp. It has to pay debt and debt- service without shedding its responsibility to build roads, schools and clinics. It has no means to do the latter because all the revenues are tied to the former. Structural adjustment imposed an 'export to pay debt' logic by expelling violently the ability of the state to pursue or carry out any worthy national development agenda. The state appeared to be rudderless unable to support the population and losing the power of policy- making. Most of the state's functions including security have been contracted out- privatised to NGOs and the market. As Jeffrey Sachs, the Harvard development economist who is reputedly behind Russia' shock therapy said: Failed states (are) seedbeds of violence, terrorism, international criminality, mass migration and refugee movements, drug trafficking, and disease.(Sachs, summer 2001, PP.187-198).
Impose shock therapy or structural adjustment and weaken the state and force it out of its public policy role. Create a policy vacuum; and blame the state when it fails to carry out any meaningful public action. Force the state to fail from pursuing any meaningful social policy and blame it for failing. Neat.
Abandon the state. And make all those interested in Africa's developments to look elsewhere -to civil society and the market. Establish a new regime of NGO-dom and corporate power to do the job the ' failed states' are said not to have been good at. By using such zero morality and infinite cunning, donors fund the non-state actors by withdrawing often their loans and grants from shamed ill-functioning states. 'Success' is assigned to NGOs and the market. 'Failure' is put at the state's door. The discourse of success and failure completes the ideological and rhetorical circle for a complete moral condemnation of the state. With success assignment going to NGOs and other non-state actors, the attributes of good governance, transparency, representation, participation, democracy and accountability comes with the recognition (either as an occupational hazard or opportunity depending how one sees it.)
A new triad that consists patronising donors that assign definition such as failed states and successful NGOs occupies the African space for social or public policy formation. Donors seem to constitute NGOs as largely necessary to make the state legitimate and efficient. The state is thus assumed to be venal and unclean. Donors arrogate the power of controlling the discourse and rhetoric for promotion of the NGOs and the demotion of the State. The result of the new triangular connection of donor- NGOs and state- is the loss of justice, the widening of inequality, and worsening poverty, and above all the fragmentation, flattening and yoking of the development agenda to the new NGO entrepreneurs. African society and community are forced to become even more incoherent with the privatisation of the national developmental agenda. Over 2000 international NGOs and thousands of local NGOs criss- cross the continent.
The state becomes further eroded by the defection of civil servants to the more lucrative sphere of NGO-dom and civil society. Thus those from the public sphere migrated in search of lucrative opportunities in the non- profit and profit- making sectors. The new opportunities led to the creation of a type of three-legged entrepreneur. With one leg a civil servant tries to accumulate grants by getting involved in NGOs. With another leg, his knowledge of the workings of the bureaucracy helps the accumulation of political capital. With the remaining leg, a business venture is run. The combination of resources from the civil, political and economic spheres in order to promote personal enrichment has led to a complete loss of commitment to any worthy public sense nor development. Thus with the so-called failed states, for the most part, public interest disintegrates. And with it any coherent public spirit, public purpose, public ethics and public policy. The various failed states were too vulnerable, too fragmented, too tied to external powers, that they largely were unable to mount a credible national agenda for renewal and social innovation.
In all these, what is lost is working for and attaining the appropriate social construction of the African state-society-economy partnership as a non-conflicting and cooperative project.
State and Society in Africa?
Africa has suffered from the backlash against the state: the developmental, the planning and interventionist states as a result of the ascendancy of neo- liberal policies in the 80s and 90s. The state retreat has been yoked with the revival of free-market ideology and civil society.
According to the World Bank:
Economic liberalization is expected to decentralize decision-making away from the state and multiply the centres of power. This in turn is assumed to lead to the development of a civil society capable of limiting the power of the state and providing the basis for liberal democratic politics. Democratic rights, on the other hand, are seen to safeguard property rights, which in turn create the security and incentives necessary for economic growth (World Bank, 1989: 60).
While the state, market and civil society relation reflect the interdependence and mutual shaping of political, economic and civil societies, the ascendancy of free market and civil society suggest ideologies for what Putman called bowling alone! Its merit lies in delegtimising ideologically and rhetorically the regulative role of states over markets and civil society actors.
What Africa needs are strong developmental states that work equally with strong civil society and strong markets (and not free markets!). There is no such thing as a free market, as there is no such thing as free air outside the context of space and time. The market is always and universally embedded in societies and social-economic arrangements and structures. State or civil society strength does not lie in their confrontations against each other or being at loggerheads at each other, but in the social innovations for furthering their partnerships and co-operations. Strength is built on a public policy orientation founded on the bedrock of public purpose, public service and public ethics that stimulate solidarity amongst states, markets and societies in Africa. They are not built with policies that divide, confront, and weaken the triad of state--market---society at the expense of the other by not using perhaps law and moral authority, but rather force, deception and blackmail that disrupt further solidarity. Strength is not measured by how many states are adjusted to attract IMF-World Bank loans and grants by passing their dictations and conditions. It is measured by how much the state has developed public sense by being rooted in society and markets and by emerging from it to guide society and the market in turn. And it is measured also by how much it does this by becoming itself a community for promoting self- reliance by following independent policy trajectories. Instead of Donors that claim to occupy the power to assign and define, free Africans should take over that power without delay. It means the political authority of the African state should not be undermined by the promotion of civil society.
The current global failure-speak is largely a false construct. It is not that existing African states are not problem-ridden and under-performing. They are full of problems and they under-perform. But the failed state discourse is rooted in the hypocrisy of the major transnational system that brought conveniently the failed state rhetoric to deny culpability. The IMF and the World Bank are more implicated than the local states in Africa that tried to implement their policies. The post-colonial state was playing the role of an intermediary of the external ideas. It may have failed in internalising what are largely western-centric externally produced ideas and policies. By blaming the state in Africa as if it had full agency these external actors are engaging in the inflation of rhetoric. Such a rhetoric is designed to constitute as well as distances the responsibility of the global actors that contributed to failure, ascribing all blame to the local actors as if these were free actors from institutionalised dependency.
The successful state thrives on a successful civil society and equally successful market, not on free market, retreating state and civil society gridlock made possible by scrambling NGOs for donor handouts. The successful state can be constructed by challenging the global constitution of the failed state. If we wish to reject the donor role in this definition of failure, we can only do that by resisting the discourse of failure by an alternative discourse of success. Such a state must be unified and developmental, if it is to be capable of resisting donor ideological intrusion, discoursing and framing.
Remember that the donors want to have the cake and eat it. They weaken the state in Africa and they blame it for being weak. They oppose the nationalist leaders and condemn their Pan-African national aspirations as utopian. Having made it impossible for an authentic African national project to take off, they continue to feel wary of any nationalist resurgence. Will Africans see through their hypocrisy and try to construct coherence, unity and public sense by constructing the African state from the local, sub- national, regional and continental levels with a clear self-reliant, self- confident, developmental agenda? What matters are whose agenda is the state following? If it follows a corporate- cum local ruling elite agenda, a state, under such circumstances- will not be productive. What will make it productive is, if the agenda is people centred, African- centred, civil society centred, market-cantered and national centred. In that case even if there is no all-African level national coordination, Africa will be on the move. African politics would have shared the same aspiration from the micro to the meta level and the vice- versa. The key is not thus simply the form of organisation and its procedural attributes. It relates more to the substantive matter of anchoring all forms of government/organisational arrangement from the local to the continental on a distinctly free African national agenda. For this African concept to imbue all forms of state in Africa, the local state narratives that retain Afrophobic notions must be expelled. The existing states can re-negotiate their internal arrangements to enter into an all-African union framework. They do not have to break up to enter into the new arrangement. They must be willing to challenge their institutionalised dependency on transactional actors in order to enter the African national system. When all - from the micro to the continental- are guided by an overriding African interest and identity, the task of designing social arrangements that integrate individuals, communities, peoples, regions, nations, religions and states will be easier. There will be a shared common framework that can facilitate the negotiation for various forms of institutional arrangements. Thus the convergence of spirit, sense and action will emerge in spite of the varieties of organisational arrangements that free African people wish to self- define, self. - actualise and self- organise.
The principle is to find consensual mobilising ideas and practices for all to recognise an African meta- narrative that embodies a strong/success co-ordination of African state- market and society. Such a meta narrative should displace the donor driven narrative or discourse. It can be made to assist and interact and even guide the local narratives of self- defining African communities. Pan-Africanism provides that meta-narrative and metaphysics for going beyond existing barriers whilst remaining rooted in African authentic communities.
The Pan-African way can challenge productively to assist and guide Africa to reject donor power to shape, generate and inter-nationalise domestic political institutions, agendas and actors through money. For the donors their money thinks, their money governs and their money defines or assigns. Free Africa can be born when it develops the power to reject donor dictation through money. The partnering of the state, society and market triad based on the concept of emancipated Africa can play a pivotal role in spreading forms of African governance by building upon African- centred institutions. Such a social innovation can take place best in an environment free from the stresses and strains of donor grant, loan and debt entrapments. African communities and societies have a wealth of forms of organisation. There should be tolerant to allow African communities to self-define as a political community to relate to each other in webs of solidarity and civility from the local to the continental system of state and society. In fact the crystallisation of the African concept for anchoring government opens huge possibilities for African communities to self- associate, to self- organise and to self- define and shape a dynamic state- market and society partnership. Such a partnership on an African scale should be freeing of African initiatives by promoting varied forms of combinations and self- realisations. It needs not be confining and restrictive of freedom.
African traditions contain mediation, consultation and deliberation from which a dialogue amongst actors coming from state, market and civil society with an Africanised imagination can take root. This dialogue can be facilitated with a constitution bearing principles of toleration and enshrining a regime of rights and obligation with a supreme moral value of infinite respect and justice for Africa. Such an African constitution emerges from the expressed will of the peoples, regions, communities, societies and states of Africa. Justice will reign in Africa only when there is a full restoration of respect for African lives. The constitution will embody as a primary good African self-respect as a supreme virtue.
The full opportunity cost of not creating the triad: AFRICAN STATE, MARKET and CIVIL SOCIETY on the basis of webs of solidarity, partnership and toleration will be a regime of violence.
It is that failure to unite, that Nkrumah predicted, which right now the donors are describing as the failed African State? But is the failure of the post- colonial state the same thing as the failure of the African State? Has the Post-colonial state been ever African? Has it ever created any ethically worthy compact/partnership with the ordinary people and society in Africa? How can the latter fail before it is made. Are the post-colonial states really states i
||African Integration in and For Civil Society: Bulletin 5
||REFLECTIONS ON NGOs IN TANZANIA: WHAT WE ARE, WHAT WE ARE NOT AND WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE?**
by Issa G. Shivji
We do not get many opportunities when we can sit back and reflect on ourselves as activists from civil society. Reflecting on who we are, what are we doing and where we are going does not require any justification. In this day and age of imperial hegemony transmitted to the peoples of the world through both state and non-state agencies, it is all the more important that we create opportunities and consciously ask ourselves one fundamental question: Are we serving the best interests of our working people? Are we contributing to the great cause of humanity, the cause of emancipation from oppression, exploitation and deprivation? Or are we engaged, consciously or unconsciously, in playing to the tune set by others?
It is in the spirit of self-criticism, reflection and soul-searching that I want to offer a few thoughts which I hope we can discuss honestly.
To understand NGOs better, we must start with what we are and what we are not, and our limitations. First, most of our NGOs are top-down organizations led by the elite. What is more, most of them are urban based. In our case, NGOs did not start as a response to the felt need of the large majority of working people. It is true that many of us working in the NGOs are well-intentioned and would want to contribute to some cause, however we may define it. It is also true that NGOs do address some of the real concerns of the working people. Yet, we must recognize that we did not develop as, nor have we managed, so far at least, to become organic to the mass of the people. The relationship between us and the masses therefore remains, at best, that of benefactors and beneficiaries. This is not the best of relationships when it comes to genuine activism with the people, rather than for the people.
Secondly, we are not constituency or membership based organizations. Even if we have a membership, this is largely of fellow members of the elite. Our accountability therefore is limited, and limited to a small group of people. As a matter of fact, we end up perhaps being more accountable to the donors, who fund us, rather than to our own members, much less our people.
Thirdly, we are funded by, and rely almost exclusively, on foreign funding. This is the greatest single limitation. ‘Whoever pays the piper plays the tune’, holds true, however much we may want to think otherwise. In many direct and subtle ways, those who fund us determine our agendas or place limits on our agendas or reorient them. Very few of us can really resist the pressures that external funding imposes on us.
Fourthly, in the NGO-world we have been brought up to believe that we should act and not theorize. Theorization is detested. The result is that most ‘NGO-wallas’ do not have any grand vision of society nor are they guided by large issues, rather they concentrate on small, day-to-day issues. In the NGOs, we hardly spend much time defining our vision in relation to the overall social and economic context of our societies.
Fifthly, many of us tend to conflate NGOs with civil society organizations thus undermining the traditional member- and class-based organizations of the working people, such as trade unions, peasant associations, etc. We may pay lip-service to people’s organizations (or POs) but in practice both our benefactors, (the so-called donor community) and ourselves privilege NGOs which has had far-reaching consequences including the undermining of these organizations.
In spite of these limitations, I believe, NGOs can play some worthy role. But then we have to recognize what we are not. I want to suggest that in the current context of neo-liberal imperialist hegemony in our country, NGOs have been cast in a surrogate role which many of us have come to accept, and, perhaps, even feel flattered. This is where our limitations have compounded and there is a danger that we may assume a role which does not belong to us and fail to play the role for which we may be best suited. This will be clearer as I examine some of our recent experience of activism.
Participation by Substitution
NGOs, as they developed in the west, were essentially pressure groups to keep those in power, the state and the government, on their toes. In our case, as the donors became disenchanted with states, they took fancy to NGOs, thus undermining the state and its institutions while at same time placating their own constituencies back at home who demanded civil society involvement. Participation and consultation is supposedly part of the so-called “good governance”; insisted upon by donors. It provides the imperial countries to legitimize the neo-liberal policies of hegemonic western powers and the IFIs (International Financial Institutions) in our countries.
NGOs are cast in the role of “partners”, partners of the state and partners of the erstwhile donor-community, partners in development and partners in good governance. We get involved in the so-called policy-dialogues in which the triad – NGOs, the government and donor representatives - participates. We attend workshops as stakeholders. Donors, who fund policy-making, and their consultants who make policies, seek us out for consultation. All this goes under the name of people’s participation and involvement, or what is called, “good governance”. What is the implication of this type of participation on democratic governance in our countries?
First, policy-making and doing it in the interest of its people is precisely one of the core functions and responsibility of a government. It is not the function of the donors. Donor driven policy-making only shows how much our states and people have lost their right to self-determination under the post-cold war imperialist domination, euphemistically called globalization. By participating in this process, NGOs lend legitimacy to this domination. In fact the NGOs ought to be playing an exactly opposite role. NGOs cannot possibly be fighting in the interest of the people if they are not in a position to expose and oppose imperial domination. The right to self-determination is our basic right as a people, as a nation and as a country. It is the right for which our independence fighters laid down their lives and now we seem to be legitimizing the process of losing it.
Secondly, by pretending to be partners in policy-making, NGOs let the government off the hook as the government abdicates its primary responsibility. The role of NGOs ought to be that of a watchdog, critiquing the short-comings in government policies and their implementation.
Thirdly, NGOs simply cannot substitute themselves for the people. They are neither the elected representatives of the people nor mandated to represent them. People’s participation in the institutions of the state is their democratic right and ought to be done on a continuous basis through structuring of appropriate legal, institutional and social framework.
As pressure and advocacy groups, our prime duty is to pressurize the powers-that-be to create conditions for enabling the participation of the people themselves in the institutions of policy-making. This means our role should be to struggle for the expansion of space for the people and people’s organizations in the representative institutions of the state such as parliament, local government councils, village and neighborhood bodies, etc. The process of reforming and reconstituting the state in a democratic direction is the only way to ensure genuine people’s participation to deter abuse of state power. This is a continuous process of struggle, not some one-off, ad hoc process of stakeholder workshops and policy-dialogues.
If the struggle for democratic reform is conceived thus, then the very strategy of NGOs would differ. Protracted public debates instead of stakeholders’ conferences; development of alternative ways of doing things, instead of providing so-called inputs into consultants’ drafts of policies, etc. Demonstrations, protest marches and teach-ins in streets and community centres to expose serious abuses of power and bad polices instead of the so-called policy dialogues in five-star hotels. Democratic governance is an arena of contestation of power, not some moral dialogue or crusade for goodness against evil, as the meaningless term “good governance” implies. You cannot dialogue with power!
In short, I am urging that we need to re-examine our conceptualization and practices of these new and fancy roles we are being given, that is, that of partners and stakeholders. We cannot possibly be partners of, and hold a stake in, the system which oppresses and dehumanizes the large majority of people
The great strength of the NGOs is supposed to be their consistent, principled and committed stand in the interest of the large masses and for human values and causes. We are not a bunch of self-seeking petty bourgeois politicians, who, almost by definition, are inconsistent and are driven more by power than principles. We as activists are not in the business of brokering power where expediency and compromise rule. Our business is to resist and expose the ugly face of power. We are guided, and our work is informed by, deeply held human values and causes. It seems to me that consistency of principles and commitment to humanity should inform all our work, thought and activism and advocacy.
Our values and causes may be summed up in three elements, which I have elsewhere called popular livelihoods, popular participation and popular power.* Whether in the language of democracy or human rights, most of our values and causes can be summed up in these three elements. By ‘popular’ I mean to refer to the exploited and oppressed classes and groups in our society. This is in contrast to the current, utterly demeaning and singularly useless, neo-liberal discourse in which popular classes are dubbed as the ‘poor’, to be incessantly researched upon and targeted to receive poverty alleviation funds. The term ‘popular’ is meant to signify the central place of the working people in the struggle to regain their livelihoods, dignity and power. I shall not go into details of these concepts here. Suffice it to say that I believe these elements signify the values and causes with which many NGOs and activists would identify. It is my contention that many of our NGOs have failed to stand up for these values consistently and thereby have greatly compromised themselves. Let me cite three recent experiences. I am doing this as a matter of critical reflection rather than pointing fingers.
This year the whole world was shaken to the core and basic human values were cynically challenged when the United States invaded and occupied Iraq. Millions of people, as individuals, as NGO activists and as simple decent human beings all over the world demonstrated and protested in great defiance of this monstrosity. Here in Dar es Salaam, our NGO world was shamefully silent. A small demonstration organized by the Students Union of the University attracted few NGOs and activists. Well known human rights NGOs and advocates were conspicuous by their absence. The umbrella NGO organizations did not even issue a simple statement either on their own or in solidarity with others. How can we, who espouse democratic values of freedom and self-determination, explain such silence?
Let us take the second example. During the time that the Government was debating the NGO Bill, there was also on cards one of the most draconian bills, the so-called Anti-Terrorism law. The NGO bill was rightly opposed by NGOs. One may critique their strategy. That is another matter for another occasion. The point I want to make here is that these same NGOs were utterly silent on the anti-terrorism bill. In countries like South Africa and Kenya, NGOs were in the forefront against the anti-terrorism law. To their credit, our sister NGOs in Kenya have put up such stiff resistance that the bill has not yet been passed. Ours sailed through the parliament. Many people are asking and are entitled to ask: How come? Are we NGOs selective in the freedoms we support? Was our cowardly silence in respect of the anti-terrorism law because our benefactors include the likes of USAID? Is it because we are no better than other self-seeking groups in that we readily challenged the NGO bill which threatened our existence while we conveniently ignored the anti-terrorism law, which delivered a shattering blow to all basic freedoms and rights?
It is true that NGOs cannot do everything and they cannot be everywhere. But the question of Iraq and the spate of anti-terrorism laws and measures thrust down the throats of our government and people is just not anything. It marks an important turning point in the establishment of imperial hegemony of the single superpower with very far-reaching consequences for the freedoms, rights, dignity and independence of the peoples of the world, particularly the third world. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, the superpower is involved in changing the world map. It is playing god by deciding for us what is good and what is evil. It is establishing a string of training colleges for spies and new types of police on the continent, including our own country. Yet, the NGO world sleeps soundly. Latin America knows, and has experienced, what happens when you have your forces of ‘law and order’ trained in methods of disappearances, mysterious murders and pre-emptive killings of those labeled “terrorists”. A whole people – what we used to call freedom fighters, liberators and organic intellectuals of the people – become non-people! Witness the atrocities that Central America and Latin America, from El Salvador to Nicaragua, from Argentina to Chile, went through. Many perpetrators of these horrendous crimes where “trained” in the so-called School of the Americas sponsored by the notorious CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). Surely, no NGO worth its name can ignore these lessons from other continents and simply stand on the sidelines while the seeds of instability are being planted on our continent.
Solidarity with People’s Organizations
In the 1980s and 1990s, many activists took enthusiastically to struggle for the opening up of organizational space for the people. This is the time when NGOs mushroomed and the multi-party system was introduced. Coming from the background of the hegemony of the authoritarian state, which killed and maimed people’s independent organizational initiatives, it is quite understandable that we should have been in the forefront of the struggle for the independence of civil society. Yet, in the larger context of the moral and ideological rehabilitation of imperialism in the post-cold war era, NGOs appear to have played the role of undermining traditional people’s organization just as human rights ideology seem to have displaced ideologies of national liberation and social emancipation. Many NGOs have failed to realize this and, therefore, without being necessarily conscious, may be lending credence to this process.
Let me refer you to the example of trade unions in our country. The trade union movement was first to be suppressed in 1964 even before political parties in 1965. When freedom to form political parties was reintroduced in 1992, freedom to form trade unions lagged behind. The same came only in 1998. Since then, against very strong odds and under adverse conditions, the trade unions have been struggling to establish themselves as truly class- and constituency based organizations. Privatization and globalization have greatly undermined their efforts as the working class is being decimated through redundancy and impoverished as public social services such as water, sanitation, education, electricity and health are being turned into private commodities for sale on the market to make private profit.
Nonetheless, the fledging trade unions have been involved in a desperate struggle against the new exploiters, the so-called wawekezaji. Among these is the South African capital, which is ferociously moving North in its second round of primitive accumulation on the continent. Recently we witnessed the saga of NBC workers. What is interesting and inexplicable is that the NGOs played absolutely no role in this struggles, not even that of showing solidarity. While we, the NGOs, participate in stakeholder workshops discussing poverty alleviation strategy papers, we seem to be oblivious of the creation of poverty through redundancy and robbery of public goods in the name of privatizing social services. When the NBC workers were holding their mass meetings, sister trade unions sent delegations to express solidarity. I did not see or hear any NGO doing the same.
Lack of correct understanding of our place and role as NGOs in the struggles of the working people, manifests itself on other levels as a well. There have been massive anti-globalization and anti-capitalist movements in the West. Again our presence in this is not very prominent. In our own situation, there is LEAT, which has been involved in a protracted exposure of abuses of the mining companies. Our NGOs and their umbrella organizations have been quiet. We have not uttered even a word of solidarity, let alone hold demonstrations and protests in militant solidarity.
Conclusion: Articulating an Activist World View and Choosing Sides
I want to suggest that we, the NGOs and activists, need to give ourselves a hard look. We need to take stock of our activities. We need to evaluate ourselves in the light of our values and principles and mission to create a better world. If indeed an alternative world is possible, and it is, we need to know our existing world. And not only know the existing world, but we must also know who keeps the existing world going. Why and how does the existing world keep reproducing itself, in whose interest for what purpose? And we have to choose sides: the side of those who are struggling for a better world and against those who want to maintain the existing world. We simply cannot be neutral..
The question before us is: Can we really understand the existing world better so as to create a better world without a grand vision, a grand theory, a world view rooted in the experiences of the working people? Can we really eschew thinking and theorizing and knowing? The hegemonic powers and their spokespersons talk about the ‘end of history’ and ‘end of ideology’. They tell us the age of solidarity of the oppressed peoples is gone. We are told now is the age of economics, not politics. Our leaders tell us there is only one world, the existing world, the globalized world, the hegemonic world. ‘’We either swim with it, or we shall sink’, they say. The truth of the matter is that it is the working people who are sinking in the globalized world while the elite swim in it. It is clear therefore that here there is a contest between two world views, that which wants to maintain the existing world and that which wants to create an alternative world. Which world view do we share? We should choose and act in accordance with our choice.
Let me end by two very poignant quotations which broadly represent the two world views in a specific context. A recent story in the Guardian (19/08/03) was reporting on the new foreign policy of Tanzania which, it said, stresses economic interests rather than political considerations. At the end of the story there is a quote from what the US Ambassador told the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs on 29th July, 2003. Commending Tanzania for its new “economic diplomacy”, he said:
The liberation diplomacy of the past, when alliances with socialist nations were paramount and so-called Third World Solidarity dominated foreign policy, must give way to a more realistic approach to dealing with your true friends – those who are working to lift you into the 21st century where poverty is not acceptable and disease must be conquered.
Some thirty years ago Mwalimu Nyerere, talking about changing another ”realistic world” of his time, that of apartheid South Africa, said:
Humanity has already passed through many phases since man began his evolutionary journey. And nature shows us that not all life evolves in the same way. The chimpanzees - to whom once we were very near - got on to the wrong evolutionary path and they got stuck. And there were other species which became extinct; their teeth were so big, or their bodies so heavy, that they could not adapt to changing circumstances and they died out.
I am convinced that, in the history of the human race, imperialists and racialists will also become extinct. They are now very powerful. But they are a very primitive animal. The only difference between them and these other extinct creatures is that their teeth and claws are more elaborate and cause much greater harm - we can see this even now in the terrible use of napalm in Vietnam. But failure to co-operate together is a mark of bestiality; it is not a characteristic of humanity.
Imperialists and racialists will go. Vorster, and all like him, will come to an end. Every racialist in the world is an animal of some kind or the other, and all are kinds that have no future. Eventually they will become extinct.
Africa must refuse to be humiliated, exploited, and pushed around. And with the same determination we must refuse to humiliate, exploit, or push others around. We must act, not just say words.*
If there is one thing common among all pundits of the status quo, and all dominating classes and hegemonic powers, it is that their existing world is the only realistic world and no alternative world is possible. Yet, it is struggling for an alternative world, a better world, which has changed the past and will continue to change the present for a better future. We, the activists, together with the working people, must continue to fight for a better world. An alternative world is possible.
||African Integration in and For Civil Society: Bulletin 6
||Issa Shivzi has dedicated this article to the memory of the late Professor Andrew Kiondo, who described the CSAI project as a ‘noble cause’ and was willing to assist in every possible way to make the project successful. His passing away has come as a terrible loss to all his colleagues and our project. (Mammo Muchie)
The Struggle for Democracy
The contemporary neo-liberal discourse has one fundamental blind spot. It treats the present as if the present has had no history. The discourse on democracy in Africa suffers from the same blindness. The struggle for democracy did not begin with the post-cold war introduction of multi-party system. The independence and liberation struggles for self-determination, beginning in the post-world war period, were eminently a struggle for democracy. Neither formal independence nor the victory of armed liberation movements marked the end of democratic struggles. They continued, albeit in different forms.
The struggle for democracy is primarily a political struggle on the form of governance, thus involving the reconstitution of the state. No one claims that democracy means and aims at social emancipation. Rather it is located on the terrain of political liberalism so, at best, creating conditions for the emancipatory project. This is important to emphasize in the light of the hegemony of neo-liberal discourse which tends to emasculate democracy of its social and historical dimensions and present it as an ultimate nirvana.
On these premises, although liberation was no doubt a democratic struggle, its articulation as a struggle for liberation gave democracy a social dimension, which the neo-liberal ideology eschews and avoids. In turn, the tension between political democracy and social emancipation constantly beleaguered the liberation and independence movements. This tension inevitably got enmeshed in the cold-war ideological confrontation between the two power blocks under respective superpowers. The cold war confrontation not only “disfigured” the liberation and democratic discourse in Africa, it turned the newly and fledging independent states into pawns, and the continent into a chessboard, of proxy hot wars. The consequences of those hot wars have been devastating for the continent. Today’s failed states were once upon a time the darlings or demons – depending on the point of view you take – of global hegemonic powers.
Military coups became the order of the day in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The targets were nationalist regimes, which wanted to carve out an independent space and give their sovereignty a modicum of reality. Patrice Lumumba was assassinated by the American and Belgium manipulation and involvement (Blum 1986, 174). A surrogate regime of Mobutu was put in place.
The Congo, and its people, including, neighboring states in Central Africa have since seen no peace. Kwame Nkrumah, who early realized the importance of continental unity and the curse of imperial exploitation through multinationals, was overthrown in a CIA engineered coup (ibid., 223). That country too has not totally regained stability and development since.
Between January 1956 and the end of 1985 there were sixty successful coups in Africa, that is, an average of two every year (Hutchful 1991, 183). In 1966 alone there were eight military coup d’etat and by 1986, out of some 50 African states, only 18 were under civilian rule (Nyong’o 1998, 78). Behind virtually every coup was the hand of one or the other imperial power, and, more often than not, the US. Overthrowing nationalist regimes and installing tyrannical dictatorships was, then, a “fair game” for today’s champions of democracy and “good governance”!
The regimes, which for various reasons, escaped the fate of military take-over inevitably turned authoritarian one-party states under some or the other form of developmentalist rhetoric (see, generally, Shivji 1986). The one-party rule and curbing of individual freedoms was presented as a trade-off between democracy and development. Even that trade-off did not work. Unlike a Cuba in the socialist sphere or a South Korea in the capitalist sphere, none of the African states was able to wrench itself free of the neo-colonial economic structures imposed by colonialism and perpetuated by the imperial world market.
By the end of 1970s, many African states, regardless of the nature of their states or their economic policies or ideological orientation, found themselves in deep economic crisis with high debts, low or negative growth rates, hyper inflation and massive transfers of surpluses through various ways, to the developed North.
Meanwhile, the North, the US and Europe, was smarting under Reaganite and Thatcherite economics and politics (see Hobsbwam 1994, ch. 8). The general swing towards the right gripped even the social democratic northern Europe. The humiliating defeat in Vietnam, the newly-found power of the oil-producing countries in OPEC and the 1979 Iranian revolution dealt a heavy body blow to the hegemony of imperialism, in particular to the United States. Thus the Second Cold War in which the Reagan-Thatcher neo-liberal axis not only further fuelled the fires of ideological warriorism but also rabid anti-Third Worldism, which was directed equally against nationalist and self-identified socialist regimes (Hobsbawm ibid., 247 et. seq.) .The combination of economic crisis at home and the rise of neo-liberalism globally made many an African country a ready victim of the IMF-World Bank structural adjustment programmes or SAPs. SAP came with its stringent conditionalties – liberalization of markets, balancing of budgets, removal of subsidies, so-called cost-sharing in the provision of social services, etc.. African states, including the most nationalist among them like Tanzania, were in no position to resist. They eventually gave in, wreaking havoc in the already fragile economies on the one hand, and the welfare of the most disadvantaged of their people, on the other (Mwanza ed., 1992). Import-substitution industrialization, which had been one of the developmental planks of the nationalist period, was virtually wiped out as industry after industry was bankrupted, unable to withstand the imports of cheap goods. Agriculture stagnated. There was little the governments could do beyond exhorting the peasants to work harder. Social indicators like education, health, water and electricity began to decline. In short, SAPs sapped whatever vitality there was in the fragile African economies (see, generally, Gibbon ed. 1993, Mongula 1994, Mamdani 1994). Even the moderate social achievements of the nationalist period in education, health, and water. were swept away.
The fall of the Berlin Wall, followed by the first Gulf War, marked another phase in the political come-back of imperial hegemony, or, what Furedi has called, the ‘moral rehabilitation of imperialism’ (Furedi 1994). If in SAPs imperial powers and the IFIs had flexed and applied their economic muscles, in the post-cold war “democracy” crusade, they aggressively and uncompromisingly applied their political muscles. Political conditionalities were added to economic conditionalities, while economic conditionalities were upgraded to include privatization of not only parastatals but also services – water, electricity, communication, education, etc. Multi-party democracy, human rights, “good governance”, poverty reduction became the buzz words of the discourse, now renamed, “policy dialogues”.
Hegemonic ideologies and dominant elites were not without their critiques. Nationalism of the middle class which came to power on the morrow of independence was severely rebuked by Frantz Fanon (.1963). Fanon roared and young intellectuals echoed him all over the continent.
The national middle class which takes over power at the end of the colonial regime is an under-developed middle class. It has practically no economic power, and in any case it is in no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace. (pp. 119-120)
It follows the Western bourgeoisie along its path of negation and decadence without ever having emulated it in its first stages of exploration and invention, stages which are an acquisition of that Western bourgeoisie whatever the circumstances. In its beginnings, the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries identifies itself with the decadence of the bourgeoisie of the West. We need not think that it is jumping ahead; it is in fact beginning at the end. It is already senile before it has come to know the petulance, the fearlessness or the will to succeed of youth. (p.123)
Developmentalism, or, what was called socialism in some places, found its critiques in theories of dependency and underdevelopment. Samir Amin (1990), Walter Rodney (1972), the young intellectuals of the Dar Campus, all vigorously debated with the mainstream American paradigms of political science centering around modernization and nation-building (Cliffe and Saul eds., 1973). . Multi-party and liberal democracy immediately elicited even a more passionate search for ‘real’democracy. A spate of publications in the 1980s on popular struggles and social movements countering top-down civil society approaches became popular for a while but was not sustained (Nyong’o ed. 1987). SAPs too were subjected to academic research and intellectual scrutiny, though, more often than not, by this time, home-grown critiques were beginning to wear thin (Mwanza ed., op.cit., 1992, Gibbon ed., op.cit.) . The neo-liberal discourse, if it deserves that respectability, appears much more dominant today. Consultancy, the so-called policy-dialogues, NGOs and “human rights” have sucked in radical intelligentsia giving charlatans and policy-advisers the intellectual field-day. But to the credit of African radicalism, the apparent ‘intellectual’ hegemony is more a pretence than a reality. A few critiques have continued to challenge it, albeit ignored, at worst, or acknowledged as tokens, at best.
But the matter of social change and transformation is not simply one of discourse. The struggle for democracy is ultimately rooted in the life-conditions of the people. In the debates of the 60s and 70s, radical political economy, with its concepts of class and modes of production, placed on the centre stage the real struggles of popular classes and oppressed masses, notwithstanding that it remained an elite, and very often an elitist project. People were posited as the agency and drivers of change, as opposed to the state. The neo-liberal discourse is bereft of any such theoretical rigour or political vision. Popular classes and masses have been turned into a helpless lump of poor waiting with bowls in their hand to receive “poverty reduction funds” while the so-called private sector is paraded as the ‘locomotive’ of development. Curiously, the dialectic opposite of ‘the poor’ is not ‘the rich’ but ‘the donors’! The analytical question is not ‘how-the- poor-became-poor and continue to be so’, but rather ‘how many are poor, moderately poor, very poor’ and how long would it take to eradicate poverty? As I said before, the neo-liberal discourse is not only blind to history but utterly oblivious of agency of change. It is par excellence the ideology , nay, the propaganda of, for and by the vested interests of the status quo. And it is on this ahistorical and asocial terrain that the discourse on governance, (that is “good governance” and “bad governance”) is constructed.
Theoretical Treatment of Governance
What is the conceptual status of ‘good governance’? At the minimum, liberal and radical paradigms would agree that governance refers to the institutions and relations to do with political power: the way political power is exercised and legitimized. In other words, governance is constructed primarily on the terrain of power. Thus articulated, the values and principles by which governance would be judged and characterized relate to forms of governance, such as democratic governance or authoritarian governance or dictatorial governance. The “good governance” discourse, however, does not admit of the relationships of power. Rather it presents itself as a moral paradigm, distinguishing between the good, the bad and the evil. What is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ governance thus turns out to be a moral judgment, on the one hand, and relativist and subjectivist, on the other. The result, I want to suggest, is that ‘good governance’ has no conceptual or theoretical value in understanding a phenomenon with a view to change it. Rather, it is, at best, a propagandist tool easily manipulatable by whoever happens to wield power. And this is exactly how it has been deployed in the dominant, neo-liberal discourse.
One of the political conditionalities imposed on African governments by the IFIs and the “donor-community” is ‘good governance’. This has become a flexible tool in the hands of global hegemonies to undermine the sovereignty of African nations and the struggle for democracy of the African people. For, the people are no longer the agency of change but rather the victims of “bad governance” to be delivered or redeemed by the erstwhile donor-community. The instrument of this deliverance is supposedly the policies and political conditions – multi-party, governance commissions – which must be put in place for a state to qualify to receive ‘aid’. The recipients on their part ‘reform’ their governance structures, with aid and technical assistance from the same ‘donor-community’, to satisfy their, what these days are called, “partners”. The example from my country, which is far more subtle, and relatively more independent in its relationship with ‘partners’, illustrates the point.
In Tanzania, we have first a ministry, headed by a full-fledged minister, of good governance. Then, through donor pressure, the Government was obliged to establish a Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance with aid from the Danish government. Among the first things was to build a gargantuan structure to house the Commission and establish the infrastructure at a cost of over 1.5 billion shs. (or roughly 1.5 million US$). (The people of Tanzania would never know the exact amount nor the conditions of the contract. It is secret from them. The Danish people would perhaps be in a better position to know how their government promotes “good governance” in Tanzania.) Then another bureaucratic structure of civil servants headed by seven commissioners is set up drawing usual salaries and numerous allowances.
Besides a minister of good governance and a commission, there was another ‘benefit’ the Government received as part of ‘good governance’ assistance. A couple of years ago, the distinguished Finnish diplomat, Martin Althassari, paid visits to Tanzania as an ‘advisor to the President’ on good governance, sponsored by the World Bank! Presumbaly, he made a report to the President (or the World Bank, who knows?) after consulting civil servants, a sprinkling of NGO representatives, academics, private sector etc., as is the consultants’ custom these days. How this consultancy represents the struggle of the people of Tanzania to construct a democratic state and polity, I cannot tell. And this is because, we are not even sure if “good governance” means the same thing as democratic governance of, for and by the people of Tanzania! After all they were never consulted on the appointment of the advisor to their president!
What about the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance?
The Commission, among other things, receives complaints about violation of human rights and abuse of power and investigates the same. This is precisely the kind of work supposed to be done by the mainstream judiciary and the former Permanent Commission of Inquiry. The Permanent Commission was set up in the middle sixties modeled on Scandinavian Ombudsman to inquire into abuse of power by state officials and report to the President. True, both the judiciary and the Permanent Commission had a lot of flaws. People have had lots of criticisms and grievances against these institutions and expressed them, whenever they got an opportunity, or, whenever, they could snatch such opportunities. Both institutions cried out for reforms. Both required the political vision, will and resources for reform based on the grievances of the people. If the reforms were internally generated and grounded in the struggle and demands of the people, they would have almost certainly taken a very different trajectory. For example, the judiciary, in particular the lower judiciary, could be improved significantly by directing resources to train judicial personnel, providing reasonable benefits to the staff, such as housing, transport etc., and by innovative structures to institutionalize people’s participation in judicial processes. Yet, that is not how “good governance” reforms are conceived. Structures parallel to existing ones are put up as a result of donor-pressure. The desirability and viability of such structures is hardly assessed within the countries concerned. One of the effects of setting up such structures is to undermine time-tested traditional state structures. Worse, reforms from the top instigated by donor conditionalities undermine the right of the people themselves to struggle for and conceive their own institutional reforms and set their own priorities. Furthermore, needless to mention, such top-down reforms conceived, prioritised and financed by the erstwhile IFIs and donors undermine the very basis of democratic governance, that is, accountability to the people. The “governors” are accountable to the “donors” and their consultants and advisors on “good governance” rather than the people. Where is then the so-called democracy, trumpeted so much, and in whose name, political power seeks legitimacy?
No wonder, in my own country, which perhaps is not the worst example in Africa of utter submission to hegemonic powers, the President cites the acclamation he receives from IFIs (not his own people) as an example of the success of his policies.
One cannot help being cynical about the whole good governance project. This is not to say that Tanzania, like many other African and non-African countries, including some in the North, do not require reform of their governance structure. But the point is what kind of reforms, in whose interest and conceived and implemented by whom. Democratic reforms, let it be said for the umpteenth time, is the prerogative of the people. It is the exercise of their sovereignty and their right to self-determination. That is what the struggle for independence and liberation was all about. It was the struggle of the African people to reclaim their humanity and dignity and the right to think for themselves and to chart their destiny. This was, and is, precisely the essence of anti-imperialist struggles. It follows, therefore, that economic and political conditionalities, including those on good governance, are an expression of the reassertion of imperial domination, however it may be labeled.
Alternative to Good Governance
What I have presented so far may sound conspiratorial and one-sided. I am not a believer in conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, it remains a historical and contemporary truism that global hegemonic power, or, imperialism, is an anti-thesis of democracy. Together with local reactionary classes and groups, imperial powers have played a major role in suppressing democratic struggles of the people (Shivji 2002a). Neo-liberal politics, thrust down the throats of African people, is a corollary of the economic policies of the Structural Adjustment Programmes based on the Washington Consensus, mindlessly propagated and imposed by the World Bank and IMF. SAPs have wreaked havoc in the third world, particularly African economies. Serious studies testify to this. I need not cite any suspect sources in support. Suffice to quote the former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz:
The application of mistaken economic theories would not be such a problem if the end of first colonialism and then communism had not given the IMF and the World Bank the opportunity to greatly expand their respective original mandates, to vastly extend their reach. Today these institutions have become dominant players in the world economy. Not only countries seeking their help but also seeking their “seal of approval” so that they can better access international capital must follow their economic prescriptions, prescriptions which reflect their free market ideologies and theories.
The result for many people has been poverty and for many countries social and political chaos. The IMF has made mistakes in all the areas it has been involved in: development, crisis management, and in countries making the transition from communism to capitalism. Structural adjustment programs did not bring sustained growth even to those, like Bolivia, that adhered to its strictures; in many countries excessive austerity stifled growth; … (pp.17-18)
Such systemic failures can hardly be described as “mistakes”. Rather, as the author himself observes elsewhere, they are the result of the interests that drive these institutions: ‘… the policies of the international economic institutions are all too often closely aligned with the commercial and financial interests of those advanced industrial countries.’ (ibid., 19-20) So, ultimately, we are not dealing with mistaken policies or conspiracy, but rather with the systematic forces reflecting the unequal relationships of the global system.
I should perhaps also clarify another point. In spite of what looks like the omnipresent and omnipotent global power, neither the neo-liberal discourse nor the imperial domination have been accepted without intellectual and practical resistance of the people. While it is true that we are generally in the trough of the revolution, and democratic and national liberation struggles have been aborted and pre-empted, African intellectuals have continued to pose alternative discourses based on bottom-up struggles and aspirations of their people. Liberal politics have been countered by social democratic politics and democracy by ‘new democracy’. In a summing up of a debate on democracy, Archie Mafeje, chiding his fellow African intellectuals for parroting liberal democracy, succinctly observed:
Regarding the present conditions in Africa, this can refer only to two things: first, the extent to which the people’s will enters decisions which affect their life chances, and, second, the extent to which their means of livelihood are guaranteed. In political terms the first demand does not suggest capture of ‘state power’ by the people (workers and peasants) but it does imply ascendancy to state power by a national democratic alliance in which the popular classes hold the balance of power. The second demand implies equitable (not equal) distribution of resources. Neither liberal democracy, imposed ‘multi-partyism’ nor ‘market forces’ can guarantee these two conditions. It transpires, therefore, that the issue is neither liberal democracy nor ‘compradorial’ democracy but social democracy. (in Chole & Jibrin, eds. 1995, 26).
In an article written in the late 1990s, I argued that it was ‘new democracy’ that was on the African agenda (Shivji 2000). The three critical elements of new democracy are popular livelihoods, popular power and popular participation. The term popular is meant to convey three meanings.
First, popular is used in the sense of being anti-imperialist. This is well captured in the people’s own perception of what is called Second Independence. Given the continued and even more blatant imperialist domination that I have described, the new democratic consensus cannot be constructed without addressing the issue of liberation from imperialism, which is the anti-thesis of both ‘national’ and ‘democratic’. But at the same time the term ‘popular’ is used to transcend the limits of the term ‘national’. It is meant to highlight the limits of the first (national) independence which took the form of anti-colonialism. The independence or first liberation consisted in constituting state sovereignty; the core of the second liberation consists in resolving the issue of people’s sovereignty.
The second meaning in which popular is used refers to the social basis of the project. The social core of the new consensus has to be popular classes, i.e. a popular bloc of classes. While its exact composition will of course differ, in many African countries the land based producer classes and the urban poor together with lower middle classes would constitute the ‘masses’. This is where, to use Lenin’s phrase, ‘serious politics begin’ - ‘not where there are thousands, but where there are millions’ (quoted in Carr 1961, 50).
The third meaning that I attach to popular is in the sense of popular perceptions, custom, culture and consciousness. Custom and culture, not in the vulgar sense of atrophied or unchanging tradition but rather in the sense of a living terrain of struggles where the old and the new, the progressive and the reactionary, jostle and struggle to attain hegemony. Needless to say that culture and traditions constitute one of the most important ideological fronts (albeit neglected in our social science discourses). This is where, in the words of Raymond Williams, the dominant culture either tries to harmonize or demonize the cultures of resistance. (See also Wamba 1991)
Such alternative discourses and struggles of the people have no doubt been aborted and pre-empted by the neo-liberal rhetoric. This is only a passing phenomenon, though. So long as neo-liberal politics and economics are incapable of addressing the real life-conditions of the African people, they have little legitimacy. The “good governance” discourse thus turns out to be profoundly a discourse of domination rather than that of liberation and democracy.
Conclusion: The Intellectual Tasks AheadIt is now time to conclude. In this, rather long-winded presentation, I have tried to argue that the great democratic struggles of the African people expressed in their independence and national liberation movements remain incomplete. The so-called democracy constructed on ahistorical and asocial paradigms of neo-liberalism are an expression of renewed imperial onslaught, which is profoundly anti-democratic. It may as well proclaim: “Democracy is dead. Long live democracy.” The tasks of committed intellectuals is to recognize the new imperialism called globalization and articulate the ideologies of resistance expressed in popular struggles (see, Shivji 2002b). African intellectuals must join issue with neo-liberalists and expose the paucity of concepts like “good governance”.
The post-cold war renewal of imperialism is even more ferocious than classical colonialism. It is led by a dangerous and unrestrained super-power undermining the very basis of democracy, the right of the peoples to self-determination, that is, their right to think for themselves. It is playing god by deciding for the rest of the world, what is good and what is evil, who is a friend and who is a foe, who are people and who are non-people. Commending Tanzania for its new foreign policy based on ‘economic diplomacy’, the US Ambassador to the country patronizingly told the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs:
The liberation diplomacy of the past, when alliances with socialist nations were paramount and so-called Third World Solidarity dominated foreign policy, must give way to a more realistic approach to dealing with your true friends – those who are working to lift you into the 21st century where poverty is not acceptable and disease must be conquered. (The Guardian, 29th July, 2003)
Here is an imposed friendship! During the nationalist phase, propounding his non-aligned policy Nyerere could say, ‘We shall not allow our friends to choose enemies for us’. The current African leaders dare not even whisper so. But no people can accept to live under bondage for ever. Empires have come and gone. This too will go. Thirty years ago, Mwalimu Nyerere, talking about apartheid South Africa said, and this remains a fitting reply to all arrogant super powers:
Humanity has already passed through many phases since man began his evolutionary journey. And nature shows us that not all life evolves in the same way. The chimpanzees - to whom once we were very near - got on to the wrong evolutionary path and they got stuck. And there were other species which became extinct; their teeth were so big, or their bodies so heavy, that they could not adapt to changing circumstances and they died out.
I am convinced that, in the history of the human race, imperialists and racialists will also become extinct. They are now very powerful. But they are a very primitive animal. The only difference between them and these other extinct creatures is that their teeth and claws are more elaborate and cause much greater harm - we can see this even now in the terrible use of napalm in Vietnam. But failure to co-operate together is a mark of bestiality; it is not a characteristic of humanity.
Imperialists and racialists will go. Vorster, and all like him, will come to an end. Every racialist in the world is an animal of some kind or the other, and all are kinds that have no future. Eventually they will become extinct.
Africa must refuse to be humiliated, exploited, and pushed around. And with the same determination we must refuse to humiliate, exploit, or push others around. We must act, not just say words. (Nyerere 1973, 371).
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Nyong’o, P. A., ed., 1987, Popular Struggles for Democracy in Africa, London: Zed.
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Shivji, I. G., 2002a, ‘Is Might a Right in International Human Rights? Notes on Imperial Assault on the Right of Peoples to Self-determination’ in Sifuni E. Mchome ed., Taking Stock of Human Rights Situation in Africa, Dar es Salaam: Faculty of Law, University of Dar es Salaam.
Shivji, I. G., 2002b, ‘Globalisation and Popular Resistance’, in Semboja, J. et. al., eds. Local Perspectives on Globalisation: The African Case, Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota
||African Integration in and For Civil Society: Bulletin 7
||New meanings of Panafricanism in the era of globalisation
Get Africa moving, collaborate in its organization, its regroupment, on revolutionary principles. Participating in the coordinated movement of a continent; that, definitely, is the task I had chosen …. Having taken Algeria to the four corners of Africa, we now have to go back with the whole of Africa to African Algeria, towards the north, towards the continental city of Algiers. That is what I want: great lines, great channels of communication across the desert. To wear out the desert, to deny it, to bring together Africa and to create the continent. … Take the absurd and the impossible, rub it up the wrong way and hurl a continent into the assault on the last ramparts of colonial power. (Frantz Fanon, ‘Cette Afrique à venir’. Cited in Macey 2000:439-440)
Because of the occasion1 and because of the promise implicit in the title of this address, it is essential that I state clearly at the outset what I intend to cover and how I shall do this. In a few words, I shall try to demonstrate how those processes which we now call “globalisation” have led necessarily to the formation of regional economic and political blocs. “Africa” is one of these blocs and the aspiring continental leadership, mainly the power elites of South Africa, Senegal and Nigeria, are in the process of making a virtue out of necessity by proclaiming another “African Renaissance” as well as forging the 18th “partnership” between the countries of the North and those of Africa during the past 20 years (Mills 2002:48-49). The new meanings associated with the concept of Panafricanism in the context of the new world order, as structured by the hegemonic project of neo-liberal conservatives, are contested by numerous forces, some non-antagonistic, others extremely antagonistic to one another. Towards the end of the paper, I attempt a succinct analysis of the openings for radical and transformative projects that are occurring as a result of the interaction between “Africa” and the world economy.
President Thabo Mbeki, in his capacity as the leader of the Republic of South Africa and as one of the foremost statespersons on the African continent, has sent out many signals and explicit statements that he intends, together with likeminded men and women in the leadership of other African states, to remake the image and the substance of the continent and of its peoples. Although he entered the international public limelight with a reputation as a realistic and pragmatic communist, it is clear that, since at least 1996, and probably even earlier, he has very deliberately been profiling himself as a Panafricanist, one who is conscious of the lowly position which the continent of Africa occupies in the global pecking order. He is, like many others before him, especially since Kwame Nkrumah first gave notice to the world that Africans were going to take back their continent and make it into an integral part of the progressive civilisation of the end of the 2nd millennium, attempting to awake the “sleeping giant” and to make it possible for Africans on the continent and in the diaspora to escape from the legendary curse of Ham.
This vision and this trajectory are in themselves not remarkable at all. Any black person and especially any African who believes that s/he has access to the human and material resources to launch a campaign, or better, a chimurenga, for the total liberation of the peoples of the continent would experience the moral-political compulsion to make such an attempt. What is remarkable, however, is the political-economy frame of reference that apparently informs the chosen strategy by which Mbeki and his colleagues hope to bring about the desired end. This is, stated crudely, no less and no more than the extension to the entire continent, through the promotion of NEPAD, of the principles and the economic assumptions underlying the policy of GEAR, i.e., the Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy, adopted to the surprise of most people by the South African ruling party in June 1996. By way of what one can only call the sweetening of the bitter pill of neoliberal economics2, Mbeki and his followers have also preached a so-called African renaissance and have managed in a few short years, together with other forward-looking African leaders, to reconfigure the Organisation of African Unity as the African Union (AU), a political and institutional configuration which is seen as initiating a new phase of African progress and development and which, therefore, leaves behind the discredited experiment of post-colonial independence by taking it as given that the continent is, and has to be, closely tied into the integrated world economy.
The focus of this address is the simple question whether this reopening of the panafrican political space will give rise to any radical perspectives on how the peoples of the continent should, or can, be organised so that from them new impulses – aliquid novi – may possibly touch other areas and political subjects in the global village. The question is highly relevant when we consider how the exceptional personality of Nelson Mandela has left an indelible imprint on the history of the late 20th century. Like US presidents or, previously, Soviet leaders, Mandela’s basic beliefs and his exploits have shaped the political terrain on which all agents or actors have had to act. The notion of reconciliation between actually or potentially warring ethnic or national entities by means of a process of painstaking negotiation and give and take is irrevocably associated with Mandela and with the African National Congress. An entire theory of political action has been spawned by the South African transition from apartheid to liberal democracy. In the conventional sense, the moral stature of the men and women who have emulated Mandela, whether in Northern Ireland, in Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi or in Palestine, is assured, simply because they have indicated in different ways that they are indeed trying to emulate him.
The first question is, therefore: what, if anything, has Mbeki to project? What is, or will be, the distinctive feature of his period of rule? Can the African renaissance, the African Union and NEPAD so increase his stature that his period of rule will also stamp a whole new approach on politics and on social ethics, such that many, perhaps even most, African leaders will want to walk his walk?
Although it is tempting to look at this issue in personal and biographical terms, I believe that that would be a sterile exercise. Mbeki represents something; he is the leader of a very diverse, contradictory and hybrid society. As a democratically elected leader, he has to represent the whole range of interests and opinions of the people of South Africa. What is new, if anything, in the mix that is the new South Africa? And can this intriguing mixture of people, cultural and religious traditions, radical and traditional political views, in short, this microcosm of the modern world, help to give new meanings to Panafricanism? Or is it inevitable that Mbeki, like those who have gone before, will fail dismally and that the continent will continue to stagnate and to regress in some kind of vicious ethnicidal downward spiral?
My prognostications are exceptionally optimistic, not because but in spite of Mbeki. The dialectic of political life, in my view, will let radical, even revolutionary, forces fill the many vacuums that have been created by the policy shifts necessitated by the overall objectives and modalities of the Africanist mission on which Mbeki has embarked. In the context of the anti-globalisation movement and in the political holdall of the World Social Forum, with the increasingly spontaneous and instantaneous solidarity actions worldwide, which it makes possible, events in Africa are about to explode in completely unpredictable and uncontrollable ways. Ironically, it will be through the cowboy strategies of Texas Ranger, George Bush, Fuzzy, Tony Blair, and the whole posse of major and minor presidents, prime and other ministers in different parts of the world that these explosions are going to rock the world and turn it into a completely different place from the one we know today.
Globalisation and bloc formation
Because of the technological and communications revolutions that have reshaped the world during the second half of the 20th century, all paradigms are in the process of being reviewed. The phenomena which, by way of a lazy shorthand, journalists and others have dubbed ‘globalisation’, i.e., the new material and ideological mechanisms by which the capitalist classes are controlling the economies and societies of the world, are the essential source of this unsettling imperative. Explanations of globalisation range from the attempted neutrality of descriptions of the components of the Washington consensus, such as that furnished by Stiglitz (2002:3-22) to the “technological determinism” of the information society thesis à la Castells (1997) to orthodox Marxist theories of “overaccumulation” (Bond 2001:4-10).
Although I assume that as a concept, or at very least as a generalised notion, the term “globalisation” does not require elaboration, I should like to list those aspects of the phenomenon that are most relevant to the purpose of this address. To begin at the economic level, it is essential that we state clearly that the capitalist mode of production as described classically first by Ricardo and subsequently refined in decisive ways by Marx and Engels has not changed at all. This mode of production refers to the collective production of use values (“goods”) by individuals who, in return for wages, sell their labour power to a class of people, who own the means of production, and who in turn, as the private owners of the labour power sold to them appropriate surplus value (the difference between the price of labour and the total (exchange) value of the “socially necessary” labour inputted in the product (commodity). In spite of the many technical permutations that have evolved during the last century in particular, this is the generic mode of producing profit, the ultimate aim of all capitalist enterprise. Globalisation, at this level, refers simply to the increasing integration of all economic and social formations into the world capitalist economy, i.e., it has to do with the complexification - which is also an unprecedented simplification – of the capitalist system, viewed in its totality. This drive towards ever increasing integration is steered by the dominant economies of the tripolar world but especially by the USA. The governments of the relevant countries, whatever else they might be, are no less than the political representatives of the owners of the 200 or so major trans-national corporations in the world, since these are the real drivers of these processes.
The neo-liberal economic orthodoxy, which informs virtually every macro-, meso- and micro-economic environment on the globe has attained the status of common sense. To quote a recent article by three South African analysts, we have as an abstract model
… a liberal political dispensation accompanied by a deregulated market economy with minimal state/government intervention as the norm for countries intent on engaging with the global economy. This discourse … (emphasises) privatisation, open capital markets and trade liberalisation, market-based pricing, deregulated and flexible labour markets, and integration into the global economy as the most effective means to achieve economic development (Daniel et al 2003:373-374).
Writing this article, as I do, in the immediate aftermath of the historic events in Cancun, from the perspective of a radical intellectual in the South, I would summarise the dynamics at the economic level in the following simple terms. The government of the United States of America, acting in the interests of the all-powerful transnational corporations that are domiciled there is using exactly the same kind of tactics as those used by the ruling classes in the British empire in an earlier historical period by proclaiming and promoting a doctrine of “free trade” in the full knowledge that the acceptance of this ideology by the majority of people in the world, and by sovereign states in particular, can only benefit the strongest economic powers. In this, it is aided and abetted albeit, generally speaking, as competitors by the European Union and by Japan and some of the East Asian “tigers”. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite states, the USA and to a lesser extent, the European Union, have all the leverage at their command in order to compel virtually all states to toe the line; China and India, to a lesser extent, Brazil, are simply too huge for such compulsion to work without unleashing the danger of a destabilising reaction3. And, the line is precisely the neo-liberal mantra referred to above. In order to do this, these strong powers use the surrogate or mercenary services of the international multilateral institutions, in the main the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Between and among themselves, the modern hegemons have divided up the world in such a way that their economic benefits are mutually reinforcing. This effect is attained mainly through the instrumentality of the transnational corporations and of mutual trade and investment4. By means of a combination of multilateral and bilateral agreements, these agencies have, during the past 20 years, more or less, succeeded in forcing open the domestic markets of most countries in the world. With regard to the South, the standard device is that of advancing generous loans and other forms of aid at high rates of interest and tied to conditions (so-called conditionalities) which become the open sesame for the entry of short-term speculative finance capital and especially for dumped manufactured goods, the end-effect of which is de-industrialisation, i.e., the ruination of whatever infant industry is struggling to be born or to survive in the given third-world country. Lowering of import tariffs and the privatisation of state-owned and parastatal enterprises, among other mechanisms, ensure that the sovereignty of the national state is circumscribed and that, in effect, the national government becomes in many respects an agent of transnational capital (see Castells 1997: 307-308). Many strategic and tactical weapons have been, and are being, deployed by the general staff located in the think tanks and strategic planning teams of the corporate boardrooms. None of these, as we now know only too well, has been fired by chance. The costly and demoralising “Uruquay Round” of negotiations, which led to the creation of the World Trade Organisation, as we know it now, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, which was calculated to do away with the sovereignty of small states and which was defeated by a combination of trade-union, community and other political forces as well as by the responses of some of the endangered regimes, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (a euphemism for the dastardly policy of universal commodification of public goods such as water and sources of energy) right across to the most recent debacle in Cancun: all these were carefully planned smart bombs aimed at obtaining access to, and control of, the resources of the weaker and powerless countries of the South, regardless of the collateral damage they would cause, and all wrapped in a miasma of misleading discourses about spreading democracy, transparency and good governance and fighting against terrorism, tyranny and dictatorship. The machiavellian machinations of the Project for a New American Century 5, with which some of George Bush’s inner circle are associated, have recently come to light as the result of the tragedy of the war in Iraq. According to Rouleau,
The proclaimed objective of the signatories is to assure the global pre-eminence of the US, especially by preventing any other industrial power from playing a role on the international or regional scene…. A unilateralist policy is called for, as well as possible resort to pre-emptive wars, to defend the values and interests of the US. The United Nations is presented as a “forum of leftists, anti-Zionists and anti-imperialists” to which there should be recourse only if the UN supports Washington’s policy”.
Theirs is no less than a manifesto for a conscious and deliberate policy of imperialist supremacy in the 21st century.
The struggle for fair trade against the stranglehold of the multilateral institutions has taken many forms and has continued unabated since the early 1970s. These have ranged from reformist notions of improving the bureaucratic procedures of the multilateral institutions, especially of the World Bank and the IMF at one end, to more generously conceptualised attempts to change the architecture of “global governance” in the middle, across to the mass mobilising, campaign orientated international social movement for global justice and against “global apartheid”. The ruthless and cynical manoeuvres of the political leadership of the North have resulted in a series of civil wars and international conflicts, all of which are, naturally rooted in local or regional histories and none of which can be explained by simply reading off from a formulaic definition of “globalisation”. The peculiarities of each given situation are always complex and explicable in terms of its unique history. Certain trajectories, however, originate directly from the larger frame of reference that has been designed by the social, economic and political forces of globalisation. One of these, is the defensive strategy of target countries, regions and communities of banding together in order to resist being swamped or, contradictorily, left out in the cold6, by these processes. Those agents that have failed to do this have, in effect, been annexed or re-colonised by one of the three poles of international gravitation. Castells’ trilogy7, especially the second volume, which deals with The Power of Identity, is the locus classicus for the description and for a feasible explanation of the phenomenon of what he calls “resistance identities”, of which bloc formation is a specific dimension. It is within this explanatory framework that I locate the African renaissance in its latest incarnation as proclaimed and commentated by President Thabo Mbeki. My basic proposition is that the rhetorical trope of the renaissance is a typical and instinctive attempt at constructing such a resistance identity which has, paradoxically but in a most unpredictable manner, the potential of becoming what Castells calls a “project identity”. For this reason, it is not doomed, as are mere resistance identities. It is, moreover, for this very reason of great importance to a radical left project in Africa today.
The main point of this paper is that the processes of globalisation have created the conditions for a new upsurge of panafrican unity. The current attempts by the official political leadership of the continent to refurbish the discredited aspect of the structures and functioning of the Organisation of African Unity and to design a new strategy for continental economic development is the direct result of the realisation that unregulated capital flows8 and all the other features of “globalisation” objectively perpetuate the tendency towards stagnation and regression into barbarism in which the continent is mired today. This is an important statement because we are acknowledging that the relevant leaders are acting from a base of real knowledge of and insight into the world system. All the more reason, therefore, to note what seems like a non sequitur at first glance, i.e., their decision to act on the belief that “if you can’t beat them, join them” or, to put it another way, their myopic view that “there is no alternative” to the conservative macro-economic strategies prescribed by the multilateral institutions and the corporate puppeteers behind the scenes of the world stage, on which they like to strut at Davos, Geneva, New York, Washington and elsewhere.
In a devastatingly honest and surgical analysis of the African condition, Colin Leys, almost 10 years ago demonstrated that the colonial legacy will take many years and a combination of improbable developments to be eliminated. In particular, he points to the fact that under colonial rule, “household production of commodities replaced household production for subsistence and local exchange…” and that this resulted in the destruction of “the precolonial economies and the social orders based on them, without putting in their place economies or social systems capable of defending themselves against ‘world market forces’ after independence” (Leys 1994:44-45). Five years later, together with John Saul, he described Africa south of the Sahara (excluding South Africa) as a place where there is “some capital but not a lot of capitalism” (Saul and Leys 1999). Our understanding of the reasons for the tragedy of Africa in the modern world has been enhanced by many incisive analyses but in the short time at my disposal, I cannot enter into the specifics of any of them. Suffice it to say that the failure of the postcolonial African state and the initially populist orientation of most post-independence African governments culminated in the domino-like collapse of most of them after the oil price-induced economic crisis of the mid-1970s. The structural adjustment prescriptions of the Bretton Woods institutions that were supposed to restore the economies of these states to health notoriously exacerbated their condition and catapulted most of them into the debt trap, where they languish up to this day9.
Today, there is hardly any publicist or analyst that does not record and lament the fact and the scale of the marginalisation of the continent. Inevitably, suggestions for solutions have oscillated between accepting a kind of recolonisation of the continent, with effective government and decision-making taking place from Northern capitals, and what has been called (by Ndegwa 1992) “collective self-reliance for economic recovery and growth”. In fact, it does not detract from the credit of President Mbeki when one maintains that both the outline and the details of his programme, which has come to be known as the African renaissance, have been prefigured in a long series of studies undertaken by African as well as UN-based research institutes and political think tanks10.
It is not surprising that the impetus for the regeneration of the continent has come from the new South Africa. Besides the more intangible factors of particular biographies and personalities, it is the paradoxical legacy of apartheid and of the struggle against apartheid that has draped the mantle of leadership over the shoulders of Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and their colleagues. Elsewhere11, I have specified in more detail the dynamics involved in this evolution. Suffice it to say that against the background of the marginalisation of Africa (“the forgotten continent”), referred to above and which can only be described as a de facto de-linking from the world economy, as the statistics12 make abundantly clear, the domestic capitalist class in South Africa has been presented with the unprecedented opportunity to move into the “African hinterland” virtually undeterred by any rivals from the disillusioned and nervous investors in the North. In this connection, the demoralising words of Colin Leys (1994:44) force themselves on to the page:
…. (Unless) the global economic and political forces bearing on Africa radically alter, much if not most of the continent is doomed to further decline, material and moral degradation and suffering. This is not to say that no region of the continent can become, at least for a while, poles of capital accumulation – where there is a resource of interest to capital in general, and where local class forces are able to appropriate some of the surplus generated in exploiting that resource, and have the ability and will to use that as capital and invest it locally, and are able to secure political conditions under which they can expand it.
Capital and continental unity
It is one of the paradoxes of the post-Wall world during which the attraction of Eastern Europe as an investment destination became irresistible to Western investors that the related increasing marginalisation of Africa from the world economy has constituted a historic opportunity for domestic South African capital. In one of the most recent analyses of this process, Daniel et al (2003) trace the colonial-apartheid origins of the dominance of South African big business in southern Africa and spell out the depth and the scale of the post-apartheid penetration of the continental “hinterland” by South Africa-based firms and enterprises. For reasons of space, the following reference will have to suffice:
A cursory glance at the literature shows South African businesses running the national railroad in Cameroon, the national electricity company in Tanzania, and managing the airports located in or near seven African capitals. They have controlling shares in Telecom Lesotho and are the leading providers of cellphone services in Nigeria, Uganda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Rwanda and Cameroon. South African corporates are also managing power plants in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mali, building roads and bridges in Malawi and Mozambique, and a gas pipeline between offshore Mozambique and South Africa. They control banks, breweries, supermarkets and hotels throughout the continent …. And provide TV programming to over half of all Africa’s states…. (Daniel et al 2003:376-377)
They go on to point out that South Africa has become “the biggest foreign investor in southern Africa” and that it is also “the continent’s largest source of new FDI, averaging $1 billion per year since 1994” (Daniel et al 2003:379). They state that the balance of trade between South Africa and the rest of the continent is in favour of the former in the ratio of 9:1, i.e., South Africa, on average, exports nine times more to the rest of the continent than it imports from it. In specific cases, however, this ratio is much less favourable to individual African countries. In the case of Angola, for example, the ratio is as high as 22:1. I cannot refrain from underlining the grotesque irony that the need for reconstruction and development in Angola derives from the apartheid-era wars of destabilisation and that many of the firms that are now offering to rebuild the country are the same ones that collaborated in the destruction of its infrastructure and the decimation of its human resources. As Daniel and his colleagues point out, this is a particularly wry case of reaping where one has sowed. And, I would add, that in the case of Angola, one of the things that were sown was something called “dragon’s teeth” in the form of landmines. It is a pathetic and pitiable fact that South Africa has accumulated the best landmine-removing expertise in the world as the result of the “efforts” of its ruling class in Angola.
Given the sensitivity of continental politics and the need for South Africa’s political leadership to avoid any whiff of Big Brotherism or of wanting to throw its weight around as a kind of regional bully-boy, it is significant that the penetration of the continent by South African capital has mostly taken the form of mergers, take-overs and joint ventures, even though some “greenfield investment” has taken place, as in the spectacular example of the Shoprite supermarket chain which, at the time of writing, had 89 stores in 14 other African countries and expected to grow much more rapidly over the next few years (see Daniel et al 2003:379). This fact gives a different perspective on what is meant by the “New Partnership for Africa’s Development” (NEPAD), which is usually interpreted as an attempt to get the transnational corporations based in the North to enter into a “Marshall Plan”-type partnership with the business firms and governments of Africa for its economic development. For, as I shall show presently, although it is essential to distinguish between the South African government’s motives and modalities in conducting foreign policy on the continent and the profit-driven strategies of big business13, there is, clearly, a strong causal link between the two processes. Indeed, it is important to state that the thrust into Africa is a well co-ordinated strategy involving all six of the main economic sectors of South Africa and both private and public sector enterprises. The crowning goal of this thrust is the truly panafrican project of “awesome dimensions”, as Daniel et al (2003:381) call the vision of an energy grid across the entire continent, which is being spearheaded by the South Africa-based Eskom Enterprises. This analysis should also be viewed against the background of the fact that the very transition to a liberal democratic polity in South Africa was to a large extent the result of the realisation (since the mid-1970s) by the major capitalist interests in South Africa that the ideological and institutional fetters of the apartheid paradigm were preventing the expansion of their profit-seeking enterprises. Hein Marais, in various contributions (most recently in 2002:95-96) has shown irrefutably – adopting a kind of j’accuse stance – that the marriage between the ANC leadership and big business in the early 1990s at the latest was a deliberate match14.
The African Renaissance and NEPAD: continuing the great tradition?
There can be no doubt, if one accepts the analysis I have offered hitherto, that the economic basis for President Mbeki’s attempt to spearhead the revival of Africa exists in South Africa itself. The interests of the South African state and capital converge and coincide on this domain.
The old adage, “cometh the time, cometh the man”, has never been more apt. The Africanist credentials of Nelson Mandela, the first president of a democratic South Africa, go back to the foundation of the African National Congress Youth League in 1944, which, in its origins, was conceived of and established as an organisation with a panafrican mission. Like most of the leaders of the ANC before him, President Mbeki, too, is driven by the original vision of Edmund Blyden, who, like most of the first panafricanists was from the Caribbean diaspora, and one of the first black people to define the meaning of the panafrican vision. His stress on racial pride and on acknowledgement of the humanity of people of African descent laid the foundations of the subsequent anti-racist ideology which has characterised the approach of virtually all the most prominent leaders of panafricanism. In the words of Vercoutter and Leclant, who wrote some 30 years ago:
It must be strongly underlined that Pan-Africanism (or “Negritude”) most fortunately has never had any racist connotations, although it is fundamentally racial. Because the black “Race” has been the most derided, despised, humiliated throughout history, it is part of the aims of Pan-Africanism to rehabilitate it and give it rights, equality and dignity to the same extent as other “races” (Cited in Glele 1991:191).
This sentiment, whatever the practical contradictions and the deeper problematic of which it is a manifestation, has been the source of inspiration of all Africanists from Blyden to Biko and beyond. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Nigerian independence leader, put the matter in the clearest possible terms, when he stated categorically in his book, The Future of pan Africanism, that “Africanism includes all the races inhabiting Africa and comprises all linguistic and cultural groups domiciled in Africa”. Nkrumah’s terse formulation to the effect that an African is “any person of good faith, of any race, creed (faith or religious belief) or colour who has chosen to live in Africa” put the matter beyond all doubt (see Glele 1991:191).
Mbeki undoubtedly belongs to this latter category of Africanists, as one can infer very clearly from his occasional reflections on the subject. The most famous of these cogitations is the speech, “I am an African”, which he delivered in the Constitutional Assembly of South Africa on 8 May 1996 on the occasion of the adoption
||Project Related Publications
|Mammo Muchie (2003) Partnership or Self-reliance: Does NEPAD Provide the Strategy for African Development?. CCS : 1-20.
Mammo Muchie (2003) The Making of the Africa-Nation
Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance. Adonis & Abbey : 0-0.
Muchie, Mammo (2004) Interim report Workshop on Civil Society and African Integration . : 1-2.
||Project Related Organisations
||Project Related Announcements
||Interim Report on Cairo Workshop on Civil Society and African Integration
||The Arab and African Research Center and the University of KwaZulu Natal in collaboration with the African Egyptian Programme of Cairo University held a regional workshop on Civil Society and African Integration between 27- 28 Feb. 2004 in Cairo- Egypt. The meeting was organized as the second of a series of workshops aimed at creating a critical mass of researchers, research institutions and universities across the continent that are expected to work collaboratively to set up research and training programmes on civil society and African integration. Participants were drawn from Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, South Africa, Sudan and Tunisia. They represent Research Centers, Universities and civil society organizations (the list of participant attached)
The workshop was opened by Helmi Sharawy (AARC), Mammo Muchie (University of KwaZulu Natal) and Adam Habib (the Human Science Research Council). There were three keynote speakers: Dr. Samir Amin the Chair of AARC (Cairo) and Third World Forum (Dakar), Mourad Ghaleb, the president of Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO) and Ibraheem El Soury form Arab League. These keynote addresses set the concepts, issues and the tone for the subsequent discussions and deliberations.
The main agenda centered around two main issues:
1-Institutionalizing research programmes and strategies framed on a regional and continental scope and scale.
2-Finding workable strategies on how to run continental post graduate training: (e.g., Masters and Phd and quality-enhancing seminars).
During the first day of the workshop the concept paper prepared by Prof. Hamdy Abd El-Rahman of Cairo University served as a background paper for the discussions on Civil Society and African Integration (CSAI) in relation to North Africa and the rest of Africa. Written feedback to the concept paper from the participants of the different countries facilitated the improvement of the concept paper by highlighting the priority research issues pertinent to the region.
What emerged from the discussions is the need to conceptualize the problem of civil society of North Africa within the global political-economic system. The framework of globalization and regional fragmentation was proposed as essential to understanding the specific condition for the development of civil society in the region.
The second day the workshop concentrated on how to create a pan African intellectual and research community by developing postgraduate training across the continent (e.g. Masters and Phd programmes).
The workshop raised the issues relevant for building a continental or Pan African research infrastructure to feed into development of postgraduate Masters and Phd training efforts. There was frank discussion on the issue of North African integration with the rest of Africa, and the position, classification and role of civil society in North Africa.
The meeting expressed the lack of communication from North Africa with the rest of Africa owing largely to the problem of language barriers. Participants expressed a strong wish that mechanisms for translation be put in place as a part of the development of continent-wide research and teaching institutions.
Actions and Recommendations:
1-Participants from the region , Morocco, Mauritania ,Algeria, Tunisia , Libya, Sudan and Egypt along with AARC, APSO, Cairo University and the University of KwaZulu Natal resolved to form a regional committee to bring about a sustainable institutional backing to the research and teaching programmes that will be endorsed at the final Conference in August 2004. Delegates will work to secure institutional support to the idea of working together for a continental/Pan-African research and teaching effort between now and the final conference in August, 2004.
2-A book containing the concept paper, the written feedback of the participants and the summary of the discussions will be published in Arabic for the August Conference. It will be prepared jointly by AARC and University of KwaZulu Natal.
3- Start running through a consortium of research centers and universities Masters and Phd seminars as part of evolving a tradition for extending quality-enhancing programmes and activities (e.g. in the model of Summer institutes) after the August general conference.
4-The workshop identified the following needs:
a-The creation of a comprehensive inventory on researchers, institutions and civil society organizations working on issues related to civil society and African integration.
b- Preparation of research papers on democratic and social movements all over the continent .
c-Preparation of an additional concept paper on globalization and regionalization to set a rigorous conceptual framework to understand clearly the barriers, constraints, challenges and opportunities for evolving a Pan-African alternative and space creation.
5-Funding for developing this continental/Pan-African research and teaching plan should be sought from a variety of sources.
6-Recognition of the need to include as many of the research centers and universities, prominent scholars in the region and to compose a list before the August conference.
7-Decision to produce a detailed report in both Arabic and English reflecting the proceedings of the workshop.
There was a general recognition and interest to pursue a project in creating knowledge production and qualified and skilled people by restoring the universities to deal with problems and challenges relevant to African needs and aspirations while inviting research NGOs to add new roles by coming into strategic collaboration with Universities.
||Often times African integration has been conceived in terms of political and economic integration alone. That is not enough. There is also merit in integrating knowledge producers and learners across the continent. We would like to take this sectoral detour in getting the academy to work together: run a post-graduate course owned by universities with the potential of staff, student and best practice mobility. We want research to be undertaken by a Pan-African selection of the researchers and learners. We think there is enormous merit in taking this route in order to complement and add new dimensions to the various efforts at building African integrations.
Two of my collegues Professor Vishnu Padayachee and Adam Habib will join me in making visits to the different regions. I very much would be most grateful if you can assit us to meet as many of the scholars and activists whose work has some Pan-African orientation. We are looking to identify serious people to join in the network(teaching and research), to play the advisory role, to help us locate good people to attend the regional workshops and finally the conference.
I would be indeed most grateful for your response and I hope you will find this project as exciting and challenging as I have found it myself.
Our plan is to travel to Cairo from September 6- September 10 We fly to Dar-es Salaam from Cairo from the 10th- 16th of September We fly to Contnou, Benin from October 2- October- 8
WHAT WOULD BE IDEAL WOULD BE FOR SOME OF YOU TO BRING TOGETHER A NUMBER OF SCHOLARS AND MEET THREE OF US AND BRAINSTORM THE CONCEPT AS WELL AS DISCUSS THE PRACTICAL ISSUES OF IDENTIFYING PERSONS THAT ARE LIKELY TO BE VERY COMMITTED AND SUSTAIN THIS PROJECT FOR AN ENDURING TIME.
I hope to hear from you welcoming us to your regions in the larger interest of doing a little good for our great continent. With warmest and cordial regards,
Forward ever, Backward never (K. Nkrumah)
The emancipation of Africa is the emancipation of man(K. Nkrumah)
||Muchie, M(ed.), The Making of the Africa-Nation: Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance, Adonis Abbey Publishers, London, 2003
Muchie, M, Lundvall, B.A, et.al(ed.), Putting the Last First: The Making of an African Innovation System and Competence Building in the era of Globalisation, aalborg University Press, Denmark, 2003
These works will stimulate and add interst and energy to the Civil Society and African Integration project.
|| CCS Sister Organisations