(A Joint Conference with The Africa Foundation for Democratic Institutions and Development (AFDID))
Over a sunny weekend we looked at the prospects for Southern Africa, a part of the developing world which had recently attracted global attention as a result of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. We were fortunate in having at the conference a wide range of experience and expertise both from within Africa and from among a number of its leading Western partners.
In a first look at the area we noted the enormous political, social and economic changes which had taken place over the last decade. The fundamental distortion of apartheid had been removed. Although there were clearly enormous problems confronting countries in the region, they could at least now be tackled in a normal way. The exception was AIDS. It was hard to comprehend from outside what the loss of up to 30% of the population meant to the societies and economies affected. While it might be possible for South Africa, Botswana or Namibia to mount a defence through the use of retrovirals this was out of the reach of other countries in terms of cost and the capacity to implement the holistic policies which could overcome this pandemic.
Seen from the outside we noted that the global process of economic and political integration presented Africa with a strategic challenge. In the view of one participant, Africa could not afford to stand aside from this process. If it sought to rely on business as usual based on former cold war networks, the international community would devote its attention to other areas of the world. If the international community lost confidence in Africa as a whole, it would probably continue to develop its trade with Africa’s resource rich countries but neglect the others. Problems of religious or ethnic conflict would risk attracting little international attention or assistance. NEPAD might provide a more forward looking option. It entailed risks but offered hope. Currently a number of Western leaders were committed to working with their African counterparts. They wished to help Africa to help itself. It was to be hoped that this favourable moment would not be missed.
Against this background we looked in more detail at the prospects for Southern Africa from the point of view of political and institutional development, economic opportunities and challenges, including the critical need for regional security and national stability.
In analysing the political and institutional issues, we noted disparities within Southern Africa in building strong institutions. In countries like Botswana or South Africa they appeared well established. In others, like Zimbabwe they were under challenge or simply ineffective through lack of popular appeal or support. One participant argued for democracy which was consistent with traditional African values. The establishment of the House of Chiefs in Botswana had been a successful example of combining tradition and modern systems. Another participant emphasised the importance of Civil Society. Institutions needed to grow from inside and not be imposed from outside, otherwise we risked creating societies which did not believe in themselves any more. Challenged about what would happen if the disconnect between African traditions and the pressures of industrialised society resulted in the “outside world” going its own way, the answer was that “interpreters” were needed, African leaders who could bridge between the two worlds and explain one to the other. Leadership, commented another, was essential but not sufficient for success. In the longer term, ideas needed to be anchored in institutions and not just in charismatic leaders.
We also noted a number of other requirements for embedding institutions and democratic values. These included a free press, the rule of law and a respected judiciary, accountability, capacity building in political skills and an education system which inculcated an awareness of rights and protections for the citizen.
This brought us to NEPAD, a theme which ran through most of the conference. Some of us were critical, some sceptical and some supportive. Those who expressed doubts thought the language used in the document was not addressed to ordinary people. Another participant noted that it had not been possible to obtain copies of the text in Spanish, Portuguese or Arabic. Above all, it was argued, NEPAD needed to be grounded in Civil Society. Unless it was, NEPAD risked being a process which was event driven without much substance between high-level meetings. Others thought that NEPAD was an idea – poverty alleviation and good governance – whose time had come. It provided a process and a set of principles which had been elaborated by Africans themselves. They needed to be fleshed out in further discussions but could prove a valuable guide to future conduct. Doubts were, however, expressed about the efficacy of peer review as a means of pressure on African leaders to live up to NEPAD principles. Direct and public criticism of fellow leaders went against deeply held African tradition. A participant suggested that Zimbabwe should provide a guide to the strength of NEPAD principles. Another advised strongly against making Zimbabwe a litmus test of NEPAD. The Western press, by concentrating almost exclusively on the fate of the white farmers while paying almost no attention to the much greater number of black farm workers who had been killed, had polarised the conflict on racial lines in many Africans’ minds, including in Zimbabwe, and had rallied support, albeit grudgingly, behind Mugabe against his critics. In institutional terms we noted that NEPAD added a further layer of overlap and uncertainty to the African Union (AU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
In looking at development and economic issues, one experienced participant exclaimed – so many priorities, where to start? And then went on to answer his own question by proposing that political parties in a country might be well advised to elaborate a set of long-term goals to which they could all subscribe. Different parties might then seek to form governments on the basis of differing ways of reaching these goals, but at least there would be a common purpose.
We looked first at some of the figures which set out the magnitude of the task facing the economies of Southern Africa and indeed, Africa as a whole. The loss of growth attributed to HIV/AIDS was estimated to be 2½ % of GDP while, to reach the UN Millennium goals, African countries needed to grow at a steady 7%. On one estimate 40% of human and material resources left Africa rather than being reinvested in the area. Demography posed another challenge with growing populations testing the abilities of most Governments to raise standards of living. This appeared to be reflected in the statistic that the three largest African countries had an income of $400 per capita while the twelve smallest had an income of $2,000.
In terms of poverty alleviation we were advised that in addition to helping women and girls who accounted for two thirds of the poor, agriculture should be given a high priority. The key was to raise productivity on the lines of the Green Revolution in India. Tenure was a basic issue. Where there was security, as in Mozambique, long-term improvements had occurred. Routes to market, access to financial and technical inputs as well as sensible pricing policies were also important. Externally, developed countries should fulfil the promises they had made at the Doha WTO meeting to eliminate subsidies to their farmers and remove tariff barriers to imports.
Trade was, we thought, another key factor. Apart from the need, at a global level, to liberalise trade in areas of interest to SADC countries, we also thought there was an equally urgent need to promote trade between the African countries themselves. SADC might play a more dynamic role in this regard. Attention should be paid to conditions which would encourage investment. Internal investment was, we thought, as important as Foreign Direct Investment, where at present the global figure was some $240 bn most of which was going to China. Africa should not depend on purely extractive industries. More of the value (and more of the jobs) should be added inside Africa.
This brought us to the “political” factors which influenced economic development. The first was the need for an absence of conflict coupled with good governance – both issues we were to return to later. The situation in Zimbabwe was thought to be doing great damage to the region’s economy. We considered that good political leadership was important but this needed to be coupled with a functioning democracy which joined rural communities with those in towns and underpinned both with transparency and accountability. Investment in social development such as health and education was claimed to be as important as investment in the means of production. One participant thought that African governments should do more than pay lip service to the market and private sector. Whatever most Ministers said, African bureaucracies at heart preferred statist methods of running the economy. Overall we concluded that countries needed to find a sustainable tempo of development, recognising that all change came at a human cost and institutional stress, but also that opting out of a globalising world would make matters worse. NEPAD was an indication that Africa intended to engage with, and profit from, this process.
Having acknowledged the centrality of security and stability to both political and economic development we looked at the causes of national and regional insecurity in the SADC area. We acknowledged that one of the main causes of instability was weak or failing states. The reasons were manifold, including importantly, the difficulty for national liberation movements in transforming themselves into normal political parties which accepted that they should relinquish power as a natural consequence of the democratic process. This was linked to a failure to demobilise and reintegrate ex-combatants in civil society. A strong plea was made by one participant for the professionalisation of the armed forces which would both make them more effective in their military role as well as detached and subordinate to the political process. Investment in the training of military personnel would bear long-term dividends for stability. A suggestion was made that a regional staff college, to which future military leaders might go, would help to instil professional values as well as good working relationships between those who might in future be called upon to cooperate across national boundaries in dealing with natural calamities such as floods, famine or drought. It was claimed that the second floods in Mozambique had acted as a catalyst for regional security by calling forth regional support and assistance. Another cause of instability was the high level of crime, including trading in drugs. Fear of crime, we were told, helped to discredit democracy.
Some of us hoped that SADC might in future be able to play a more active role in encouraging regional security cooperation. Others thought that closer and more open relations between South Africa and Angola were necessary. The latter was inclined to view South Africa with suspicion as having ambitions to become the regional hegemon. Improvement would require a closer working relationship between Presidents Dos Santos and Mbeki. The fact that Angola would take over the SADC chair in October and go onto the UN Security Council might help.
Underlying all this was the need to create conditions where good governance would become the established pattern. We needed a culture of peace, was how one participant put it. We considered whether countries should be “rewarded” (as NEPAD seemed to imply) by external partners for following such policies. One participant thought that this was the wrong image. Governments should not be rewarded for taking steps which were in the interests of their peoples. Another thought that it was more a question of external partners, both Governments and multinational firms, having more confidence in establishing long-term relationships with African states where good governance principles applied.
In looking at the actors in civil society we considered the role of NGOs. Many local NGOs were though to be weak and not able to play a real role. Others questioned the legitimacy of western NGOs. There were a great number. An African commented that the popularity of NGOs was a function of the availability of funds. We drew a distinction between advocacy and delivery NGOs. A supporter of the advocacy NGOs maintained that they were a useful element in what was at times a restricted political debate in some African countries.
Overall we thought that both internal and external participants in the development of Southern Africa needed to concentrate on creating “structural stability” rather than simply concentrating on peacekeeping or preventive diplomacy. There were many elements to structural stability involving health, education, trade, policing and defence professionalisation. The aim was, however, to create conditions of good governance in which ordinary people could go about their lives in peace.
When we looked back across the ground we had travelled, one or two points were made with great emphasis. The first was for the need to turn fine words into deeds. Implementation, implementation, implementation, as one participant put it. To this end political leaders required a comprehensive and multidimensional plan to achieve their objectives. All the agencies involved needed to work together. This was the lesson from the UN and other peacekeeping missions in Africa. It also applied to the development, based on the twin pillars of stability and good governance, of the various countries in the area. A participant urged the West to stay engaged with Zimbabwe where the position was both worse (white farmers invited in from countries which had supported Mugabe in his independence struggle had also lost their farms) and better than portrayed. The people of Zimbabwe needed help with their terrible problems. This was acknowledged, but the political difficulties for western Governments were stressed. We noted that not only were populations growing rapidly, there was also a crisis of expectations among the people of Southern Africa. Time was not on their side. Our final exchanges were, appropriately, about NEPAD. While a doubter maintained that there was no African consensus on NEPAD, others saw it as a framework for engagement within and without Africa on key issues of governance. It was a forum in which information about best practice might be exchanged. The rider was, however, added that NEPAD’s success might depend on the identification of areas for immediate action which would demonstrate its validity – the “low hanging fruit” of regional integration.
I am grateful to our partners, the Africa Foundation for Democratic Institutions and Development for helping to bring together such a distinguished group of participants from Africa. Their involvement gave real depth to our discussions. I am also grateful to Baroness Chalker for guiding our discussions from the chair with her own deep knowledge of, and commitment to, Africa. It is an issue to which Ditchley should return in the years ahead, and when we do we will have an admirable reference point for our discussions.
This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference. No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.
Chairman: The Rt Hon the Baroness Chalker of Wallasey
Life Peer (Conservative) (1992-); Minister of State (1986-97) and Minister for Overseas Development (1989-97), Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Member of Parliament (Conservative), Wallasey (1974-92); Advisor on Africa and Development to British business concerns and to the World Bank (1997-); a Governor and Member of the Council of Managerment, The Ditchley Foundation
Mr Boubaker Adjali
AFDID Board member; journalist on African affairs at the United Nations
Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun
Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, Geneva Executive Centre; AFDID Board member; formerly: Algerian Ambassador to USA, UN, Germany, France and Morocco; Deputy Secretary-General, OAU and the Arab League
Mr Lopo do Nascimento
Member of Parliament and Chairman, Centre for Social and Development Studies; AFDID Board member; formerly Prime Minister of Angola
Dr Gloria Somolekae
Senior Lecturer in Public Administration, University of Botswana (1995-2001); WKK Foundation policy consultant; a director, AFDID, author
HE Ms Lucie Edwards
High Commissioner of Canada to South Africa, with concurrent accreditation to Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mauritius
Professor J Clark Leith
Professor of Economics, University of Western Ontario; formerly: Economic Consultant, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Botswana (1986-88); Bank of Botswana: Director of Research (1993-95); Senior Policy Advisor (1995-97); author
Ms Rosemary Proctor
Private consultant; formerly: Special Advisor and Director, Southa Africa/Canada Program on Governance (1996-2000)
Professor Sir Richard Simeon Bt
Professor of Political Science and Law, University of Toronto (1990-); formerly: adviser on constitutional development in South Africa (1995-97); author
Mr Bambe Dansala
Development Consultant; formerly: Minister for Rural Development and for Agriculture
Mr Takalign Gedamu
Chairman and President, Bank of Abyssinia; AFDID Board member; formerly: Secretary for Development; Minister of Communications; Vice President, Africa Development Bank
Dr Aklilu Habte
AFDID Board member; formerly: Vice Chancellor, University of Ethiopia; Minister of Culture; Director, World Bank Education Department
Professor Mesfin Wolde-Mariam
Director, Ethiopian Human Rights Council; AFDID Board member
M Alain Henry
Director, Infrastructure and Urban Development, French Development Agency
Dr Dominique Jacquin-Berdal
Lecturer In International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science
Mr Peter Scholz
Deputy Africa Director, Department of Foreign Affairs
Dr Kwesi Aning
AFDID Board member; Director, Africa Security Dialogue and Research
Ambassador Yaw B Turkson
Executive President, The Africa Foundation for Democratic Institutions and Development (AFDID); formerly: Ghanaian Ambassador to Brazil, Argentina, Ethiopia, France, Spain, Portugal, Vatigan and UNESCO; Special Advisory to Director-General of UNESCO; Personal Envoy of UN Secretary-General to Angola
Mr Pheroze Nowrojee
Dr Mario Machungo
President, Investment Bank of Mozambique and Commercial Bank of Mozambique; AFDID Board member; formerly: Prime Minister of Mozambique
Dr Peter Katjavivi
Vice-Chancellor, University of Namibia; AFDID Board member; formerly: member, Constituent Assembly of Namibia
Mr João Shearman de Lemos Macedo
First Secretary, Portuguese Embassy
Dr Greg Mills
Director, SA Institute of International Affairs
Mr Ronald Archibald
Head of Department, trade relations between the EU and Southern Africa; regional integration; G8 Africa Action Plan, Department of Trade and Industry
Mr Edward Bickham
Executive Vice President, Anglo-American plc
Mr Jesmond Blumenfeld
Associate Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics and Finance, Brunel University; Africa Region Head, Oxford Analytica Ltd; formerly: Chairman, Southern Africa Study Group, Royal Institute of International Affairs
Mr M Alistair Boyd
Chairman, African Medical and Research Foundation (UK); Chairman, Southern Africa Business Association; Vice-Chairman, Royal African Society
Mr Clive Butler
Unilever plc (1970-); Corporate Development Director; non-executive board member, Lloyds TSB Group
Mr Martin Hogg
Chief Executive, Southern Africa Business Association
Ms Liz Lloyd
Foreign Policy Advisor, Prime Minister’s Office
Dr Andrew Pocock
Head of Africa Department (Southern), Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Major General David Richards CBE DSO
Assistant Chief of the General Staff, Ministry of Defence
Mr Roger Riddell
International Director, Christian Aid; formerly: Chief Economist, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (1981-83); Consultant to South Africa Ministry of Finance (1998-99); author
Mr Anthony Sampson
Writer and journalist; Chairman, Society of Authors (1992-94); Trustee, Scott Trust (Guardian/Observer) (1993-); author, ‘Mandela: the authorised biography’
Mr Graham Stegmann
Director, Africa, Department for International Development
Ms Jasmine Whitbread
International Director, OXFAM GB (2002); formerly: Regional Director for West Africa (1999-2002)
Dr Nana Poku
Senior United Nations Researcher in African Politics and Social Science, University of Southampton
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The Hon William M Bellamy
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2001-) (Deputy Assistant Secretary, 2000-2001)
Miss Caroline Conway
Member, Africa Team, Human Rights Watch, New York
Dr Lloyd J Chingambo
General Manager/CEO, Lusaka Stock Exchange; AFDID Board member
Dr Nkosana Moyo
Senior Advisor to Executive Vice President and Managing Director, International Finance Corporation, Washington