Will the New Partnership for Africa’s development
The level of cautiousness about and around human rights abuse and non-democratic rule will rise, since states would not want to witness their countries wallow in poverty and underdevelopment. With the observable obsession with power amongst previous and current African leaders, the NEPAD Peer Review Mechanism (NPRM) may herald dangerous changes in Africa’s international relations. The principle that states can opt out of NEPAD can have grave consequences for NEPAD and the manner in which different actors in international relations interact amongst and between different states.
Besides, there are currently member states in the African Union and NEPAD that are perceptibly not complying with the principles of democracy, good governance and other principles that are championed by AU and NEPAD. Worrying is the fact that there has been inaction from the AU Assembly, and it creates confusion as to the determination of NEPAD and AU to bring themselves to speak against an/or “impose sanctions on” totalitarian regimes, like Harare’s (Zimbabwe) and Mbabane’s (Swaziland).
There are countries in Africa currently that have not acceded to NEPAD and its Peer Review Mechanism. The obvious question to arise is whether these countries will be excluded from developmental objectives outlined in NEPAD. If the view is to exclude the “rogue” countries from NEPAD spearheaded developmental gains, then NEPAD will be self-defeatist since a significant sector of African countries would have been cut from the “sustainable economic development” envisaged by NEPAD.
Conversely, if the idea is to include states which are not NEPAD signatories to be part of the beneficiaries in the dividends and outcomes of NEPAD, then the need to join NEPAD will wane since African states are perceptibly not willing to bring themselves in for scrutiny by other African states. In all probability NEPAD may not the correct programme to influence real change in Africa, noting the reluctance of African states to abide by its principles and the conditions it set. By March 2004, only four African countries had voluntarily submitted to the peer review6.
With that level of reluctance, question may arise not only on the influence NEPAD may have on Africa’s international relations, but on the possible success of the programme per se. Moreover, in May 2004, the Nepad Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee complained about the slow progress of the peer review mechanism7. If NEPAD at practical level moves with the pace it is on currently, it will not exert real change except antagonism created between the NEPAD signatories and those who are not willing to be part of the NEPAD processes.
The other challenging area is NEPAD’s disguised arrangement for African states to integrate into the global system as dependents of the developed world. One of the arguments NEPAD makes is that the pre-conditions is propounds as those of development, are pre-conditions which are aimed at “attracting” investments and foreign aid. The prospects of the notion of pre-conditions to attract investments are one area where utmost hope can’t be bestowed. If the fundamental assumptions in NEPAD become unrealistic, and fail to address economic development, then African states will be in quagmire.
The New Africa Initiative (NAI) document had correctly stated that “greater integration has also led to the further marginalisation of those (states) unable to compete effectively. In the absence of fair and just global rules, globalisation has increased the ability of the strong to advance their interests to the detriment of the weak, especially in the area of trade, finance and technology. It has limited the space for developing countries to control their own development. The conditions of those marginalised in this process have worsened in real terms.
A fissure between inclusion and exclusion has emerged within and among nations8”. If this becomes the reality with NEPAD, state, and various IR actors’ relations within Africa will be in serious bewilderment. It has become a reality that although African states are economically linked to their former colonisers, there is a growing hostility and resentment to former colonisers. Moreover, social movements in Africa have shown utmost hostility and abhorrence towards the West, comprised of countries that are represented in structures such as the Group of 8 (G8), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
There is a growing trend of viewing any information or guidelines from the West with weighty scepticism, and the fact that NEPAD has heavily borrowed in principle and practically from OECD, the notion of Peer Review Mechanism, hostility towards such mechanism would be excepted from African states and civil societies, and perhaps some other important actors in Africa’s international relations. NEPAD is not sensitive to the long held resentment against former colonialists by African social movements, civic society and some governments.
So continued reference to and correspondence with former colonial rulers will have negative influence on the nature of Africa’s international relations. If African states choose to reject NPRM because it is viewed as a ‘Western mechanism imposed on Africa’, there will be serious deadlock since an alternative completely genuine Peer review mechanism can’t be configured to fit NEPAD principles, which are inclined towards Western and neo-liberal principles.
The role NEPAD solicited and/or expected from the civil society was too minimal, aside from “asking the African peoples to take up the challenge of mobilising in support of the implementation of this initiative by setting up, at all levels, structures for organisation, mobilisation and action”. But the question will remain whether the civil society, as one of the most important actors in international relations, will provide sufficient support for NEPAD and the programmes it propounds.
The civil society can have enough pressure to influence diversion from NEPAD endorsed definitions of good governance (economic) and corporate) and that will change the manner in which states as actors in international relations relate to each other. Most developmental states in Africa will be faced with the mammoth task of pleasing either NEPAD apologists, which are mostly African government elites and reactionary academics, or national voting constituencies, which are mostly backed by radical intellectuals and social movements.
It is an open secret that NEPAD is pro liberalisation of trade and concomitant capitalistic phenomenon such as privatisation, readjustments, deregulation, commodification of primary societal needs, and so on. African states, trade unions and mostly the civil society knows at best the consequences of neo-liberal policies, obviously with the experience of Structural Adjustment Programmes and in the South African situation, the effects of the neo-liberal macro-economic policy misnamed Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR).
Then the civil society, with growing alignment across borders, may be an important actor in Africa’s international relations, which will come as a result but in opposition to NEPAD. This again raises the paradoxical question of development and democracy, where what can be major developmental policies may face serious opposition form voters and the broader civil society in favour of policies that increases consumption as opposed to investment.
Moreover, NEPAD could, but does not document “the deep popular will” to build a new Africa. That ambition and/or vision certainly does exist in various civil society initiatives, most of which stand in explicit opposition to NEPAD. Across the continent, varied grassroots organisations have joined trade unionists and radical intellectuals in struggles against neo-liberalism, for democracy and humanity.
Many of the strongest expressions of popular will exist in South Africa, and involve South African government political allies (Congress of South African Trade Union and South African Communist Party), who fundamentally reject the same policies or supposed macro-economic stability and privatisation which NEPAD promotes9. NEPAD will breed an important actor in Africa’s international relations; and that becomes the civil society which was previously sidelined in international relations by most African governments, since international relations is largely an oligarchic, elitist and government led phenomenon.
The Council for Development and Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and Third World Network – Africa (TWN-Africa) are social movements which are fast becoming important actors in international relations, and their explicit opposition to NEPAD is one factor that can’t be ignored. CODESRIA noted in the conference it jointly organised with Third World Network – Africa (TWN-Africa), that “while many of its stated goals may be well-intentioned, the development vision and economic measures that canvassed by NEPAD for the realisation of these goals are flawed.
As a result, NEPAD will not contribute to addressing the developmental problems in Africa. On the contrary, it will reinforce the hostile external environment and the internal weaknesses that constitute the major obstacles to Africa’s development. Indeed, in certain areas like debt, NEPAD steps back from international goals that have been won through global mobilization and struggle10. ” With such sober and unambiguous declaration from the CODESRIA and TWN-Africa, we can but only expect huge hypothetical, ideological and political battles between the ruling elites (mostly the NEPAD clique) and civil society.
While Thabo Mbeki was gathering international elite support for NEPAD and only later checking on African capitals, a “Southern African Peoples’ Solidarity Network” headquartered in Cape Town, held regular workshops across the region to generate analysis, establish positions and co-ordinate campaigns against neo-liberalism and political repression11. The reality is there is a variety of organisation, structures and formations that are explicitly against NEPAD, and by continuing its programmes, NEPAD architects will be sub-consciously co-opting another an important actor in developmental politics and international relations: civil society.
The most important caution to make on the probable influence of NEPAD in Africa’s IR is the fact that uninterrupted unity and stability in Africa will be dependent on the success of NEPAD. The failure and/or collapse of NEPAD will spell the breakdown and degeneration of African unity. Countries that are perceived as leaders NEPAD will be viewed and perceived with weighty cynicism and scepticism, if and when NEPAD fails to realise and bring about the objectives it outlines.
The worrying factor is the reality that NEPAD has over-ambitious objectives, which when not realised will demoralise the various actors in the Africa’s international relations; governments and civil societies included. Amongst the over-ambitious objectives of NEPAD, there is a ‘determination’ to halve poverty in Africa by the year 2015. To realise that, African economies will have to grow by % to 8% in real terms annually, and investment would have to rise from 16% to about 25% over the next decade, meaning that there ought to be annual investment of $10 billion.
African economies never grew beyond 4% for the past decade, and conditions are not that radically change to can supersonically accelerate the speed towards the needed figure to realise the over-ambition of halving poverty by 2015. Still, economic growth in countries such as South Africa never translated to development. Poverty levels deteriorated and unemployment rate expanded in a “growing economy”. So coupled with economies such as Zimbabwe’s, which have negative growth rates, African leaders must desist from misleading people.
It is almost an orthodox that investors, mostly foreign are not charmed by Africa, even amidst promises of democracy, peace, good governance, rule of law and such. MEPAD is naively drawing an analogy of NEPAD with the post second World War Marshall Plan to reconstruct Europe. Europe was pivotal to world reconstruction, and provided an attractive return on investment after the war, whereas there is currently no compelling need for OECD countries to risk capital in Africa12.
In addition, with the demise of the Cold War (a key driver to Marshall Plan), there is no need and no imperative to invest in certain African countries for ideological and military/strategic reasons. The main argument presented by these necessary invectives against NEPAD is that if the programme fails (with high possibilities to fail), inequalities in Africa will be reproduced, conflicts will be reinvented, and there will be significant limits of human rights particularly for those who will not be owners of capital.
Interstate relations will deteriorate, and Africa will be condemned to strife, poverty, underdevelopment and utmost penury. Conclusion Some of the truths expounded in NEPAD are not reality. The writing made attempts to discuss and analyse the possible changes NEPAD can bring to Africa’s international relations. In tandem with reference to differing debates about and around NEPAD, it gave an opinionated view of what changes NEPAD can bring. Perhaps the stimulating factor is the reality that both the negative and positive sides have been looked into and discussed objectively.
Pause! 1 Maxi Schoeman, “Africa’s International Relations” in Patrick J. McGowan ; Philip Nel (eds): Power, Wealth and Global Equity: An International Relations Textbook for Africa, Cape Town, University of Cape Town Press, 2000, page 209 – 210. 2
Roger Southall and Daniel Conway, “Africa In The Contemporary World” in Patrick J. McGowan ; Philip Nel (eds): Power, Wealth and Global Equity: An International Relations Textbook for Africa, Cape Town, University of Cape Town Press, 2000, page 196. 3 Nkrumah, K.
Neo Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, London: Panaf Books, 1965, page ix 4 Francis Konnegay, Concept Paper on Promoting Ownership of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development in Regional Communities: Development Bank of Southern Africa, October 2003. 5 Thabo Mbeki, African National Congress (ANC) Today-Volume 2, Number 45, 8 November 2002 6 SABCNews, African Leaders Still Waiting to be reviewed, March 26, 2004; http://www. sabcnews. com/africa/west_africa/0,2172,80335,00. html 7 SABCNews8 New Africa Initiative document, and the Millennium partnership for the African recovery programme (MAP), accessible in http://www. sarpn. org. za/NEPAD/MAP/page3. php 9 Patrick Bond, “Thabo Mbeki and Nepad:
Breaking or shining the chains of global apartheid? ” in Sipho Buthelezi & Elizabeth Le Roux (eds), South Africa Since 1994: Lessons and Prospects, Africa Institute of South Africa, 2002, page 186. 10 Declaration on Africa’s Development Challenges, Adopted at end of Joint CODESRIA- TWN-AFRICA Conference on Africa’s Development Challenges in the Millennium, Accra 23-26 April, 2002.
See http://www. codesria. org/Archives/Past_events/declaration_on__africa. htm 11 Patrick Bond, “Thabo Mbeki and Nepad: Breaking or shining the chains of global apartheid? ” in Sipho Buthelezi & Elizabeth Le Roux (eds), South Africa Since 1994: Lessons and Prospects, Africa Institute of South Africa, 2002, page 186. 12 See http://www. oecd. org OECD comprise inter alia of countries such as Australia, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, United States.