It is a tragedy that Africa has lost one of its illustrious sons, Bingu wa Mutharika the president of Malawi. What is more disturbing and shocking is that some sections of the Malawian population celebrated his demise.
The only crime he is accused by this thankless and heartless group to have committed is mainly centred on his very radical Pan-Africanist stance of trying to pave and chat a new way forward for his impoverished and donor dependent people. His major argument was that the Malawian general populace should not continue to be pawns in the neo-imperialist world economy.
Arguably some Africans have not given themselves time to digest and take hid of Kwame Nkrumah’s warning that neo-colonialism acts covertly, manoeuvring man and governments and in the process creating client states that are still reeling under the shackles of economic exploitation and political domination and thus forever remain as pawns of the powerful nation-states.
The question that requires some reflection is whether Africa should always dance to the tune of a foreign song? If the continent and its people are to dance and sing to this foreign song, what benefit then does this bring to the contemporary African generation as well as the continent’s future generations.
Mutharika wanted to wean Malawi from the DDS (Donor Dependency Syndrome). Malawians on the other hand were opposed to this noble move opting instead for more donor funds. What then would be the essence of being a president of an independent country if you are not able to execute executive duties due to foreign control?
True independence, as we have always argued in most of our instalments, entails a total control of one’s destiny. External control of any political system renders it a neo-colonial state. In Malawi, the neo-colonial element first reared its ugly head on the controversial issue of the homosexual escapade and as if this was not enough the British Ambassador to Malawi publicly criticised the President waMutharika, labelling him a dictator.
The dead Malawian head of state then granted the British Ambassador a persona non grata. This meant that the British diplomat was no longer acceptable to continue his diplomatic duties in the host state. It must be borne in mind that an Ambassador is accredited by the head of state of the host country.
An Ambassador therefore presents his or her credentials in person to the head of state of the host or receiving country. The host State then issues a document that is referred to as consent or an agreement which entails the acceptability of the ambassador in accordance to the 1961 VCDR (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations).
This is done during a brief ceremony referred to as the presentation of credentials. After the ceremony the ambassador becomes fully accredited and starts executing his/her diplomatic duties in the host country. It must be noted that though the diplomat is immune to laws of the host country he/she must respect them.
When diplomats perform their official duties they follow codified procedures known as diplomatic protocol and this is what the British Ambassador to Malawi should have done. However, when president Mutharika did the very right thing of expelling the British diplomat, which has always been the norm in diplomatic circles the world over, a white-washed and myopic section of Malawian society never forgave him for such a noble move.
It is because the British Prime Minister could not stomach such a diplomatic embarrassment from one of the poorest African states that he decided to use the withdrawal of aid as a weapon to whip Malawi into line. This explains why Malawi has been subjected to what Dr Tafataona Mahoso calls “economic terrorism” that devastates an innocent populace into disarray.
This means that the “African mafia”, this group of Western collaborators and donor sponsored neo-liberal cohorts immediately springs into action, confusing the general populace and choking the gains of independence from inside. They fail to realise that too much dependency on foreign aid will not lead to meaningful development in Africa. This is why we must always remember the African adage that, water from the well, however warm, will not cook rice.
What Africa and all progressive Africans must realise is that they cannot extricate themselves from the so called Western economic and political humanitarianism if they do not emancipate themselves from this mental slavery of false Western generosity. This is why we will forever be indebted to Pan-Africanists like Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara and others.
Africa therefore yearns for a people of conviction not vanquished people who are subdued and have accepted their livelihood as fate. This is why Sankara advised that the African people must “work more, spend less, spend better, produce more and be concerned with the priority needs of the country . . . the masses must be a little happier, have clean drinking water, sufficient food, good health, education, decent housing and more dignity.”
This good life is not as a result of foreign aid but it comes out of sheer hard work and dedication to the continent’s cause. The Bible clearly tells us that for one to live like a king one ought to work like a slave. Africa is thus greatly indebted to its heroes and heroines who died fighting against colonialism and neo-colonialism. Africans should therefore be controllers of their own destiny.
These are the revolutionary seeds that were sown and were in turn sprinkled with the sweat, tears and blood of African heroes and heroines. This must be cherished and jealously protected by every progressive African citizen. It is high time that Africa and the Africans themselves realise that it is them who have the golden key to unlock their potential for their own development and economic emancipation.
It is unwise for them to keep on carrying the begging bowl for they will only subject themselves to eating the crumbs falling from the rich man’s table. This is why all progressive African citizens must cry foul to African leaders who are not visionary and who continue to offer themselves as sacrificial lambs on the altar of the Washington Consensus by taking orders from Western capitals and international financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank.
What Malawi, Sadc and Africa as a continent must know is that a country that is not self-sufficient and able to feed itself risks being trembled upon by the powerful states who want to perpetuate the dependency syndrome. This is why Thomas Sankara opined that foreign aid “produces nothing other than disorganisation and enslavement.”
What is surprising is that some African leaders who are supposed to stir the African economic ship to prosperity are busy stampeding each other to obtain “favours” from Western governments and international financial institutions. Such leaders have become donor intoxicated that they do not have the slightest hesitation to sacrifice Africa’s heritage and development and are ready to be entangled in the debt vice that will not only impoverish Africa but will also necessitate the continuation of the dependency cycle.
Malawi and Mozambique among others have already fallen head-long into this trap. If leaders of these countries are not careful this will be a ghost that will forever haunt them as well as all those myopic Malawians who celebrated the death of president Mutharika. As Africans, let’s desist from being our own worst enemies.
African leaders, intellectuals and academics must be visionary, vigilant and pragmatic to stop Africa from this malaise. If they fail to do so then Africa as the legendary titanic is going to sink at its own peril. This therefore calls for relentless advocates for viable, well understood mass based strategies that will politically, economically and socially benefit the African citizens.
Dear reader, believe or refute it, Zimbabwe’s land reform and indigenisation exercise is an unprecedented development that will not be subjected to eco-political blackmail. Its buttressed strength is in controlling our own resources. Zimbabwe’s strategy is internally motivated and driven. Africa’s point of departure is mobilising the African masses so that they will not be divorced from the struggle that must continue to be waged.
The youths in secondary and tertiary institutions must be made aware of the sacrifices required and this will bolster an endogenous way forward that will not be retrogressive. This requires what the Kenyan renowned writer Ngugi waThiongo called “decolonising the mind.”
University and college lecturers have work to do and they must endow their pupils with the reality, what this cut-throat world is really like and not what it ought to be. This therefore calls for a robust coalition between the people, their leaders and the intellectuals. This brings in a very interesting matrix.
What is the essence of sending our children to Western universities where they become part of the “Western sponsored intellectual mafia” who upon their return to Africa spearhead and champion economic ideologies and ontologies that perpetuate a system that will be an albatross on the African people’s development.
Africa must sing its own song and not dance to the tune of the West. African leaders must adopt strategies that are not detrimental and enable the African citizens to achieve the highest good. Africa cannot afford the luxury of standing at the cross-roads, it cannot afford loitering in economic disgrace.
African masses have a right to life and this entails the right to own and control their country’s economic resources. This is why the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere advised that “development to Africa should be development that eliminates oppression, exploitation and humiliation.”
This is the type of development that the Bingu waMutharika was yearning and struggling for. This was the light that he wanted to shine in the Malawian economic wilderness. Fare thee well brave son of Africa.
It is up to future leaders of Malawi to follow the visionary path that you had begun to make or for them to start making a new path altogether. This is why we strongly opine that the struggle for economic emancipation must continue unabated. Economic independence and not dependency is a must in our lifetime.
*Darlington Mahuku and Bowden Mbanje are lecturers in International Relations, and Peace and Governance with Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe. The article was first posted in The Herald of Zimbabwe.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :