A FEW gallant sons of Africa from the elite South African 1st Parachute Regiment and a sizable number of desperate so-called Seleka rebels perished in a needless fire fight in the Central Africa Republic’s (CAR) capital Bangui recently.
Painona with Tapiwa Nyandoro
With no “traditional political or cultural links, nor meaningful trade with the Francophone CAR”, as the South African weekly Financial Mail put it, questions were asked as to “which interests of South Africa are being furthered beyond a token degree of military diplomacy and, even then, at what cost?”
The foul political landscape and the failing economy of the central African State are at the root of the CAR’s problem, just as in the DRC.
Although the two countries may seem far off, 3 600km in the case of CAR, their economic and political health affects South Africa and the region’s economies as well.
Somali, Congolese and Zimbabwean economic refugees have flooded South Africa, France and United Kingdom.
The unnecessary burden placed on countries providing sanctuary to economic refugees makes it imperative they should unapologetically seek solutions to the problems. These must be win–win, viable and sustainable solutions.
A report attributed to Al Jazeera recently pronounced that the Malian problem was not based on religious differences as widely believed, but economic mismanagement, corruption, selective application of the law or the inadequacy of law and order and the politics of exclusion and criminalisation of the State.
The latter is most manifest in particular where there are natural resources that attract highly liquid international criminal syndicates.
This is a major component of the so-called resource curse of which diamonds play a critical, if negative role in the CAR’s military coup burdened political landscape. CAR and the DRC are potentially rich, but failing or failed States. The latter has trillions of US dollars in mineral reserves.
According to a Press article by Lawrence Jackson published locally in the second week of April 2013: “Competence in governance is measured by the consistent and assured delivery of public goods that include security, education, health care, infrastructure, employment opportunities and a legal framework for a law and order.”
Had South Africa, as it ought to, looked at the CAR problem holistically, alongside its own introspection as regards its economic needs, its laudable mission to the CAR might have been of a vastly different nature, duration and size. Jackson, having nicely analysed the CAR problem, began the end to his article by proposing a solution as follows: “The onus rests on the responsible members of the international community, to build conditions necessary for democracy.”
He went on: “This calls for technical help to the CAR in order to initiate deep and wide economic, political and social reforms that address structural problems of the troubled society.” He concluded: “Until this is done, the political culture of violent regime change will persist. The talk of democracy and the regional transition plan will not work.”
Well written I would say; but whose regional transition plan? Is it Sadc’s?
In its editorial of March 29 to April 3rd 2013, the South African Financial Mail also declared that “the interests of a country must have a major influence on the formulation of its foreign policy” and “that policy should in turn determine military strategy”.
Time has come for South Africa and Sadc to have bold political, economic and military strategies. It is good to see the Zimbabwean army learning Portuguese so as to communicate better with the Angolan and Mozambican armies. The South African Army must do the same.
All Sadc armies must have units fluent in French as well to be able to communicate with the so-called Francophone countries. So should the Foreign Affairs/International Relations Ministries and the Ministries of Justice.
Sadc has to address the concerns raised by Jackson ie the political, economic, social and legal regional landscapes.
I see no better solution than a Federal State stretching to the Congo River and to the likes of CAR, in which resources, in particular human capital, are shared and goods and services move freely without artificial hindrance within the federation. It is an idea whose time has come.
It is the secret to the greatness of the Roman Empire, the British Empire, the American Federal State and yes, of late China, a coalition of different states/provinces.
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