Ever wondered why, in spite of sub-Saharan Africa’s rich and diverse God-given natural resources endowments, black Africans remain some of the poorest people on planet Earth? The answer lies in poor leadership.
Black Africa is generally run by increasingly unaccountable despots whose primary focus is power and plunder.
Even if one compared black Africa with post-colonial Asia, which got independence more or less at the same time, one finds that, as Asia surged ahead in development, black Africa was generally moving backwards, while frenzied looting and squandering of inherited colonial legacy was taking place.
Colonialists, for all their faults, created modern economies out of forests and wetlands. They built roads, railway systems, telecoms, industries, you name it! But our current crop of leaders, generally bring back the jungle, destroying everything in their wake while creating nothing.
They rob and grab assets in the name of affirmative action and/or buy them with corruptly earned monies.
Success stories have been few and far between.
The first thing these leaders destroy when they come to power are the institutions that would hold them accountable and in their place, they instal vast systems of patronage that reward loyalists and cronies with all manner of opportunities and assets.
Black African countries largely become the rulers’ spoils.
In its well researched collaborative treatise, Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?, the World Bank cites Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana, Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya as some of the leaders who provided viable, stable, inclusive and development-oriented leadership to their countries, though some subsequent leaders have not fared as well.
Of course, others, like the iconic Nelson Mandela, later joined the ranks of enlightened leadership and set their countries on sound developmental and democratic trajectories.
Then there are those leaders, whose trademark has been meaningless, noisy ideological ranting. This has been a result of misguided mimicry of Marxist nonsense or some incoherent ramblings repeated with nauseating rapidity while pushing their personal agendas.
Even faced with stark and obvious challenges which they clearly know they are impotent to overcome, most of these leaders are not prepared to resign like Thabo Mbeki, Silvio Berlusconi and George Papandreou. They are prepared to walk over dead bodies to stay in power.
In Zimbabwe, there is a rabid anti-West and pro-East narrative from the leadership while at the same time, there is a clamour for re-admittance into the West’ embrace.
For years now, they have been fighting tooth and nail to be re-admitted into the same Western frontiers which have decidedly divorced them for reported electoral fraud and human rights violations.
There is reluctance on the part of our leaders to re-invent themselves or some renewal.
They come in with a ludicrous argument of the West and or imperialism wanting to recolonise Africa.
Africa is like a father of a bevy of beauties, on account of its natural resources, and suitors are lining up to betroth them.
It is not such a wise father who would confine and restrict his daughters’ options to his own prejudiced whims and caprices.
Africa must learn to make its regional economic blocs uniform and functional, and not have some countries within such blocs playing the Lone Ranger with silly, wild investment codes and conditions.
The West, the European Union, China, India, Brazil and South Africa are not succeeding by being arrogant by the way.
Let’s take a rain check of our actions. It’s not too late.