THE African continent remains one of the most confused places in the world in terms of its long -term vision.
As a consequence, it has become an easy target for manipulation by the West and the East.
Because of the confusion, African leadership has tended to follow the wind. They follow the bloc they assume to be offering better deals.
It is as if Africans are crippled from making use of their own resources or to develop themselves. It is as if Africa’s development is not an African project.
That the continent is one of the richest in terms of natural resources and yet it is poorest in terms of the living conditions of its people is one of the paradoxes of our times.
The impetus that led to independence is yet to find its real meaning in the post-independent Africa.
For most of the times, the narrative is that the wars of liberation were fought so that African countries could develop themselves, that Africans could enjoy their natural resources and self-determine their destinies.
The pre-independence commitment, where lives were sacrificed in battles against the colonial system, has not lived up to its expectation and has become the biggest betrayal since that of Judas to Jesus.
The African problem has become everyone’s problem and therefore no one’s problem. In some texts, it is the problem of the West and its relations with Africa, while in others it is the problem of the East for not exerting enough pressure on African leadership to transform.
But in all this Africans themselves are never seen at the centre where their issues are discussed.
Supranational structures designed for such discussions such as Sadc and the African Union are infested with Western money and the discussions are easily swayed by Western interests.
Where the West’s footprint is not influential, it is the Chinese that are silently pulling the strings from behind and one wonders why it has never been Africans for Africa.
If one were to go through the library of deals and trade agreements signed by our Trade and Commerce ministers since 1980 up until 2000 with Western countries and companies, Zimbabwe would have been somewhere far from what it is today.
Imagine the stampedes witnessed when Christopher Ushewokunze and Nathan Shamuyarira were Trade and Commerce ministers. Those deals could be worth more than what the country possesses today, but they never materialised.
I guess instead of asking their worth, the question now would be why were they signed in the first place, when we could not give our own Strive Masiyiwa a licence.
I am not in any way suggesting that signing of the deals with foreign investors is the way to go, but I understand that the pressure every government in Africa faces upon assuming office is to ensure people have jobs.
That is what the Western narrative of development has left to us that every citizen must be dispossessed of their way of life and be converted into a labourer. Despite their ability to self-sustain, that narrative has told and pressured us to make every citizen a worker. Hence we have trade unions and never cattle herders’ union or hunters’ associations.
Sadly that is where the problem begins – which has led to Africa’s inability to sustain and create a homegrown economy because of the haste to rely on external investment to help them deliver jobs.
The call for jobs for every citizen at independence was deeply flawed and driven by external interests because it meant creating space for external investors to make use of available opportunities under the guise of creating jobs when the actual goal was to reap benefits at a lower cost.
The African leadership swallowed this narrative and made it part of their DNA. So did Africans themselves.
After independence most people sold their cattle to move from their rural villages to town in search of employment which was considered a source of good life.
They lost their productive lives which were dependent on the natural environment for one that depends on the presence of a foreign investor.
Every economic blueprint that does not speak of job creation is sure not to garner votes from the people especially the youth. But then because most African countries were still not ready to deliver those jobs, they relied on external injection of funds and investment and as a consequence, the entire system has been infested with and controlled by external interests.
This could be the time Africa focused on channelling its productive energies towards wealth creation by and for its people than attempt to convert everyone into a labourer.
Countries that have been successful in recent years, have adopted the same approach. They established wealth creation opportunities for their people. Out of that emerged a business-minded class who created jobs for the lower class.
And as the lower class income earnings increased, so did their consumption for locally produced goods and services produced by the middle class, thereby establishing an organically growing homegrown national economy without leasing the countries’ resources to external interests.
Unless Africans can be patient enough to allow policies that promote homegrown policies to materialise, and its leadership can make a bold stance on ensuring that available resources are not for sale, but local consumption and production, the continent will remain crippled and vulnerable to manipulation by the East and the West. Isn’t it just sad that it would appear Africans have no use for their diamonds or even wearing them, but would dig them out for months just for someone in India to wear them at their wedding?
l Tapiwa Gomo is a development
consultant based in Pretoria, South