Vavi: Leaders fail to transform Africa

2011-11-25 19:13

Johannesburg - Generations of African leaders have failed to transform economies inherited from colonial masters, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Friday.

"All our economies to this day remain dominated by the unprocessed natural resource sector, with little or no industrialisation," Vavi told African Union leaders at the International Trade Union Confederation congress in Boksburg.

"Some countries rely 90% on mineral exports," he said.

Vavi was concerned that "colonialists" were continuing to plunder Africa's mineral resources, decades after their political defeat.

Scramble for resources

He said the scramble for Africa's resources by imperialist forces and their interference in the continent's affairs had to be confronted.

Africa had an abundance of natural resources, but remained the poorest continent in the world, Vavi said.

Income levels remained "terribly low", while income inequalities had remained "stubbornly high".
He blamed mass poverty and food insecurity on a failed post-colonial political economy on the continent.

This was exacerbated by "a venal, corrupt and visionless leadership which cares little for people".

Vavi called for the renewal of the African trade union movement towards African emancipation, saying it was time for all workers to re-mobilise and fight for a new freedom not gained.

The scale of the continent's "sham of independence" needed to be exposed, he said.

"For too long we have allowed the dependency syndrome whilst claiming to be liberated.

"Either we export our minerals to our colonial masters, or they control our finances, or both."

‘We don’t own mines, economies’

The continent had not industrialised or diversified its various economies, and had not added value to natural resources, said Vavi.

"We do not own our mines and we do not own our economies," he said

President Jacob Zuma, who addressed delegates via video link, agreed with the union leaders in that the labour movement had a role to play in shaping African economic emancipation.

This would be among the issues the congress would discuss until its conclusion on Sunday.

Zuma said the continent still faced major problems like poverty, inequality and unemployment. These needed to be decisively dealt with, he said.

He urged the labour movements to help their governments and contribute more to Africa's social and economic development.

  • J.D. - 2011-11-25 19:30

    Correct Vavi. So let Africans open up industries to utilise their own minerals. Let us start building ships long distance passenger aeroplanes, computers , motorcars. television sets etc etc. Just do Vavi just do it. We all will support you.

      Impi - 2011-11-25 19:42

      @JD. Unfortunately the "Leaders" of Africa have allowed the Chinese to come along and take over the continent. I hope Vavi (whom I have the greatest respect for) brings up this issue, because our President is still in an Apartheid frame of mind and hasn't noticed the Chinese at all.

      Herman - 2011-11-25 19:53

      @Impi....bear in mind that Chinese in SA is also seen as PDI's...

      Impi - 2011-11-25 20:12

      @Herman. Scary thought Herman now you mention that. Scary!

      Sean - 2011-11-26 00:11

      Sorry J.D. , It will not and can not happen in the next 100 years ;( Where do you think all the skilled South Africans go ? Government is to incompetent and BEE is also a balls up !

      tony.mollagrean - 2011-11-26 07:03

      I think JD is correct. Don't blame China though they are just doing what we should be doing. If we were as successful at creating jobs as the Chinese there would be no requirement for BEE and AA as this would become null and void as jobs would become available for all. I have been to China on more than one occasion and to see their work ethic is to understand why they are so successful. I believe two things are necessary and they are: 1: we need a government bank that give loans to new business, not what we have in the SBDC at present which is just a joke. Do they still exist??? 2: new business that is is backed up by a mentor-ship program with current formal big and small business owners/leaders. This would have some reasonable chance of succeeding.

  • Silver - 2011-11-25 19:34

    Excuses excuses excuses. I don’t see any “evil European” holding a gun to any African’s head for recourses. Sounds more like the African blaming the Europeans (again) because they refuse to blame themselves. You drove off the “evil Europeans”, you have the steering wheel… NOW DRIVE!

      Fred - 2011-11-25 20:27

      I think Mugabe did a great job transforming the Zimbabwe economy to and all African economy.

      Sean - 2011-11-26 00:14

      @Silver , they will drive , but they will never check oil,water,tyres and fuel untill the ``car`` stops and then it will be the ``europeans`` fault again.

      Silver - 2011-11-26 08:57

      Yes guys. The point is they wanted to drive and now they are in the driving seat. If they wreck the car it is no ones fault but their own. Everyone have their seatbelts on?

  • Larry - 2011-11-25 19:35

    They fail mainly because they are either megalomaniacs, Crooks, Incompetents, Murderer's, or a combination of these.

  • Shirley - 2011-11-25 19:39

    They never got it "right" because they were all too busy with their own agendas and self enrichment schemes! The ones that have had black ownership have long since failed!

      Impi - 2011-11-25 19:48

      And Botswana Shirley? How did they fail? And Namibia? Or is it just that you don't like blacks at all today?

      Impi - 2011-11-25 20:44

      @Jan. Read my post please before you attack me. I don't need Wiki to tell me about Botswana's economic success, they are a few kilometres away from us. Shirley said that black run countries all failed!

      Impi - 2011-11-25 21:10

      Sorry Jan. I have been fighting all day all these terrible irreconcilable attitudes on here today, so I am a bit worked up by now.

  • David - 2011-11-25 19:42

    Amazing how somebody with so little understanding of basic economics is now lecturing us--his claim to fame is economic destruction.

  • 3pherb - 2011-11-25 19:42

    You dont need to reform everything just because your'e in power. use the inheritance as basis to work from, not steal from!

  • Ryan - 2011-11-25 19:44

    Why do these speeches always have to stir up such bitter vitriol? If you have a good economic strategy then just come out with it, let the experts pull it apart, and if it stands up in court then apply it. Simple. You are grown men and this is high school locker talk.

      Impi - 2011-11-25 19:51

      Thank you Ryan! When one is surrounded by the world's top economic experts then it can get very lonely in here on News24.

      Ryan - 2011-11-25 20:23

      Experts can be easily found, hopefully a few of them showed up at the International Trade Union Confederation congress. Here at News24 we are just picking up the crumbs.

  • Ivan - 2011-11-25 19:54

    Vavi tell your Cosatu affiliated unions to stop toi toying and start doing something constructive. It is late in the day to realize what damage your union and your Party are doing to South Africa. Look at Zimbabwe and smell the coffee.

      Sean - 2011-11-26 00:16

      Ivan - They will never learn !

      alansmartSnr - 2012-04-11 16:01

      If Vavi realy wants to make a contribution he should and can call all his unions to go on strike and put an end to this thieving of the publics money with the e-toll of roads. He has the power to bring it down by a strike of two days a week - preferably Mondays and Tuesdays. No good having power and not using it. Lets see how determined he can be

  • Marius Koen - 2011-11-25 19:59

    Here's an idea for you: Stop importing crap from your masters China and lets start producing ourselves! Oh wait, that wont work with our ridiculous labour laws.

      Impi - 2011-11-25 20:10

      That is true Marius. Like Big Mac, the Chinese have made the fall of Apartheid their greatest investment. Clever these people from the East, aren't thy?

  • Heinrich - 2011-11-25 20:14

    People have been saying this for a long time : Develop value-added industries. In stead of importing stuff-make your own, and eventually export. This idea is not new. What bothers me though, is the fixation the ANC and Cosatu has with the "Colonial masters". They always try to portray a negative picture. The period of greatest economic growth in South Africa, was during the 50's. These "colonial masters" have created value added industries like Iscor and Sasol whilst developing infrastructure like railways, harbours, road- telecommunications and educational networks. Many value added industries in the agricultural sector were also established during that time. The Colonial masters are long gone. For 17 years we have seen a steady decline in the quality of life n S.A., the establishment of a record gini coefficient,massive unemployment,unbelievable wealth and squandering of resources within ANC and Allied circles, decline in academic achievement and many other social and economic ailments. If you want to really transform South Africa : Try to match the development track record of the "colonial masters". My advice really is : Learn from the past, get off your butt, stop stealing, start caring for someone other than Cosatu/ANC. Try to put South Africa and its people first.

      Jo - 2011-11-25 20:37

      I would give you 100+ thumbs ups if I could.

      Impi - 2011-11-25 20:37

      @Heinrich. I need to explain something to you so you better understand the black mentality, which is a problem, I agree. Coming from a squatter camp myself or an informal settlement as the ANC would lovingly refer to us, it is very difficult as a child to understand your poverty. I was orphaned at 9 and it took me the best of 15 years after that to figure out that I can end my own poverty. When you are begging at street corners and white kids mock you from behind the glass windows of their car, it is difficult not to start hating white people and at that age you don't realise that your poverty is caused by your own government. Your inability to change your reality, becomes your inner obstacle. For some it is easy to sit back and blame someone else, like a lot of humans do, and for others it is unacceptable to live with the stench of the neighbours toilet. Some figure a way out, like stealing, be it car jacking or high level like Big Mac and his Conniving Guru from Durban. But there are many of us that want to do this the right way. Our problem however is 45 million people with a deep rooted inferiority complex, these old leaders that still carry the scars of the humiliation of the old Apartheid's government. Not all of us have the ability to move on past that and enrich ourselves the right way. Most of them want to take back what they rightfully believe should have been theirs.

  • Delano - 2011-11-25 20:16

    Generations of African leaders have indeed transformed economies inherited from colonial masters. They have destroyed everything they have laid their hands on.

  • H - 2011-11-25 20:17

    You don't need to own a mine to open and staff a manufacturing facility. Being able to establish it so close to the source should provide some economic advantage over consumers further afield. Way to take your eye off the ball there, comrade Vavi. Let us be blunt - the leaders have failed to educate their followers, in order to more efficiently steal from them. They have taken the money destined to uplift those in need, and used it to build extravagant monuments to their self-importance.

  • Heinrich - 2011-11-25 20:29

    "Leaders fail to transform Africa" Perhaps it is because they define "transformation" along black/white lines. The thinking is inwards, backwards and confrontational, in stead of outwards, forward and cooperative. We really do not have any leaders. Where are we going?

  • Peter - 2011-11-25 20:36

    What about voting for leaders who want to enrich the people instead of themselves? What about teaching people to vote for policies not mere parties? What about ignoring the past which will never change and plan for the future of ALL the people?

      Impi - 2011-11-25 21:00

      That is what we need Peter, but he will have to be black and sorry Mrs. Zille, however wise you may be, you are not going to gain any support within the black community. The realities of our culture will prohibit a woman to fix our problems. Yes I know our constitution says this and that and the other about women rights, but they forget there is an old culture to deal with. You are not going to change the vote of the majority and change the culture in 20 years.

  • John - 2011-11-25 20:39

    vavi is not too bright. when the horrid colonials arrived why had the local people not built mines and economies of their own??? is the only way an african can have a company is to steal it from a non african?? you arent really that different yourself vavi.. the truth seems to be that south african blacks cant exist in an economy without abusing it. in a few years all investment in south africa will cease and you will be dumped into the chinese trash can.

  • E - 2011-11-25 20:40

    I hate to say it, but laziness, incompetence and black greed are the hallmarks of Africa. Exceptions to these are pleasant conversation points. How does one get ahead in life? By hard work, integrity, being trustworthy ( i.e. honesty) and a culture to continuously learn, improve and innovate. Not by continuously looking for blame, handouts and schemes towards entitlement. African trademarks are those that do not generate respect and creating an environment for sustained success. Why did nobody colonise Europe? Or Japan? Or China? Or America? Its culture and selfish leaders are those that must stand in.

      Impi - 2011-11-25 22:18

      Now you have brought America up. Isn't it interesting while they confined their own Indians to reservations, they sanctioned the old Regime in South Africa for Apartheid?

  • See - 2011-11-25 20:40

    Isn't it time to admit that the natives of the dark continent only fail if left to their own devices?

  • Dave - 2011-11-25 20:47

    Vavi, So long as YOU have an "Us and Them" mindset your movement will never make progress. You antagonise investors. Change your tune to We, We, We,then the attitudes may change so that all benefit. GET THE CHIP OFF YOUR SHOULDER, it is holding back your Comrades. Thinking people will only invest their money where there is a good working relationship between Capital and Labour.

  • Mike - 2011-11-25 21:01

    How can our unemployment problems be solved, we have so many people who are actually unemployable because they have no skills and can only provide manual labour. If we were able to start manufacturing businesses we could employ tens of thousands of people however, our labour laws are too restrictive. It is easier to manufacture using technology as opposed to manual labour. Our unemployed would have to work like the Chinese for low income because our economy has not grown to incorporate mass employment. If the ANC during the struggle had adopted education of the masses as a strategy, things would be different. People need to learn trades and this has not been addressed. Frankly, who ever comes up with a sustainable solution for our economy will be a genius.

      Impi - 2011-11-25 21:24

      No Daniel, we don't need a genius. We only need you. We should sit down together and prepare a document for Cosatu and spell out this brilliant logic of yours. The problem with all the moaning unhappy whites in South Africa is, they couldn't stand together ever. If Helen Zille says this, then Mulder has a whole different plan. While the whites were fighting for power, we got the country because we stood together. Now however we need people like you with a positive attitude to lead us and not tell us we don't have one brain cell. We need to stand together and you bring your brilliant brain and I my black skin and we go see Vavi and tell him this.

  • velastardust - 2011-11-25 21:04

    Vavi, as long as COSATU sides with the are going to get what you vote for!

  • Tshivhombela Fhatuwani - 2011-11-25 22:37

    Economic transformation is not a picnic. Even if you take over the mines today, you will still import skills from Europe, Asia or USA which is far costly than letting Anglo-American to mine. You are still going to import technicians to service those machines. Aurora is managed by Khulubuse Zuma, who left employees stranded after the mine was shut down after many months without pay. Is Zuma a colonialist? For as long as we don't shoulder our own follies, we will continue with the merry go round. Instead of blaming the colonial powers, encourage young people irrespetive of to take scarce skills careers because I see irreversible brain drain in the coming 20 yrs.

      Impi - 2011-11-25 22:59

      Thank you Wise Man. We should start a party and fix this place. You'll be President and I will take over SARS so we can first get control over this spending culture our people have grown so fond of. But seriously now. Isn't it amazing how everybody just conveniently forgets about Aurora and Grootvlei? I don't know about Anglo American though. Rather give me Johan Rupert that didn't flee the sinking ship to take over the mines or let Patrice do what he has been doing well for so long.

      johnkk - 2011-11-26 21:29

      Well said.

  • mirya27 - 2011-11-26 02:16

    Get into the classroom and listen and learn, and then you too can own, manage and control! Nothing stopping anybody, but your government from empowering YOU!

  • Maximus Odinidus - 2011-11-26 05:00

    I've said before that the ANC subscribes to and heads up the African agenda which is a policy that aims to drive America and its investors out of Africa. Hence the term imperialists. So Robert Mugabe and Julius malema are just pursuing what is already ANC policy. Think about how our prez had a hissy fit when the AU didn't recieve

  • Maximus Odinidus - 2011-11-26 05:01

    The recognition he had hoped for with the Gaddaffi saga. The ANC policy is anti west, anti white and anti democracy.

  • Andrew - 2011-11-26 09:57

    The problem is that most of Africa wants to be spoon fed at no cost to themselves, then to top it all also want to bite the hand that feeds them. They contiually complain about the past colonists who at the time helped build their countries instead of looking to the future and starting to develop their own ecconomies.

  • Shirley - 2011-11-26 12:11

    DanielDennet: You are entitled to your opinion as is everyone else. If you read daily postings on various stories you MIGHT understand what I am saying. It is not an outburst,it is the truth. So until you have read every posting by Impi and know the facts......................!!!!!!!!!

  • sandie.vahl - 2011-11-27 10:36

    There are many brilliant and reasonable black intellectuals in this country (more so than white simply because of demographics). Unfortunately our system of government, proportional representation according to political parties, means that those in power, those in charge of the country, the 'State' are required to serve the interests of the party and thus intelligence in government is severely hampered. The media, probably unknowingly, support this by giving space to the loud mouths who are in control/have power, and tend to ignore the intellectuals.

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