Africa must heed Obama’s warning

2013-07-18 00:00

PRESIDENT Barack Obama may have given a tactical answer to the question of China’s trade with the African continent. However, in reality, the U.S. is indeed concerned, and not only about China’s economic incursions into Africa, but also about the return of nationalism among great powers.

“International competition among great powers has returned, with Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, Iran, the United States and others vying for regional predominance,” says American historian and political commentator Robert Kagan.

These developments will no doubt find South Africans drifting aimlessly, like buoys in the stormy seas of foreign ideologies, their hopes holding on to a weak anchor of make-believe freedom. Thus far, the majority has been turned into political and economic fodder, serving the interests of the economically well-off minority.

Africans and their leaders in particular, have been manipulated by other races and nationalities to pursue causes that are counterproductive and work against their cultures and indigenous pre-colonial value systems. Some emulate the Western values and others the Eastern values. Africans have cast out, like demons, their own historical African personality. In short, our sovereignty and that of the rest of the people of the African continent, is in great jeopardy.

Although it is honourable to uphold international morality and fight for the rights of humanity everywhere, it is hardly prudent to flirt with selfish political doctrines that strive for dominance over all, and by any extreme means possible.

South Africans can ill afford to romanticise anti-American or anti-West sentiments, particularly at a time when the centre of our own freedom is not holding. The idea that the East will bring economic goodies and true emancipation for the African majority is as much an illusion as a developmental state that pins its hopes exclusively on external economies, markets and international trade agreements that have failed to ensure distributive justice, balanced human development, social harmony and equity for the vast majority.

What Obama did not admit to President Jacob Zuma and the rest of us is that the geopolitical and strategic interests of the international powers are converging to shape the African continent for better or worse.

But he went on to advise that, when dealing with foreign trade, South Africa, and the rest of the continent, should ask the right questions and must insist on getting better deals for its own peoples.

In the case of South Africa, the right questions must be predicated on the strong political will to introduce the fundamental reforms and restructuring of South Africa’s current economic system.

• Ben Skosana is a member of parliament, IFP spokesperson on international relations and co-operation and National Assembly house chairperson.

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