Address by Mr Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP
UDM Chief Whip
In the National Assembly
Debate on the African Union’s Agenda 2063: “The Africa We Want”
Thursday, 30 October 2014

Speaker and Honourable Members,

On 3 May 1999, respected BBC newsreader and former African correspondent, George Alagiah, wrote in a piece for The Guardian (of London) that, and I quote: “For most people who get their view of the world from TV, Africa is a faraway place where good people go hungry, bad people run government, and chaos and anarchy are the norm. My job is to give a fuller picture. But I have a gnawing regret that, as a foreign correspondent, I have done Africa a disservice too often showing the continent at its worst and too rarely showing it in full flower.” End quote.

Making a bad situation worse is that even Africans themselves contribute to the negative African narrative.
In a study of Afro-pessimism online in 2011, Matha Evans highlights that, and I quote: “Online expatriate responses to events in South Africa perpetuate its [afropessimist] thinking to varying degrees, with openly racist declarations and fantasies of recolonisation sitting at the extreme of the continuum, and predictions about the country’s decline and apologetic speculations about the benefits of apartheid situated further along the scale.” End quote.

Even today there is a litany of media stories both here at home and abroad that propel this negative narrative about Africa.

However, beneath this media-fuelled pessimism is a continent that dreams of moving out of the malaise of poverty and underdevelopment and building a new Africa. After many decades of relative economic stagnation, a number of African countries have achieved economic growth through the adoption of prudent macroeconomic policies and have seen improvements in political stability and more transparent elections. Therefore, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 should, among others plans and programmes, serve as a new trajectory for Africa’s development.
Despite these achievements, we are aware that in Africa there is a yawning disconnect between word and deed, between our grand plans and implementation. And this disconnect regrettably tends to be couched in idealism rather than pragmatism.

To achieve Africa Vision 2063, we must demonstrate the political will to implement our plans and commitments to eradicate hunger and poverty in Africa and by so doing place African countries on a path to sustainable growth and development.

In Africa, we should commit to good governance and democracy and do away with the tendency to tolerate authoritarian regimes. As long as we tolerate authoritarian regimes, which brazenly fiddle with the public purse for self-enrichment, we will never remove the detritus that shackles Africa’s potential.

We should compel African countries to create conditions necessary to help democracy take root. The success of nations rests on their ability successfully to entrench good governance, promote and consolidate democracy, because where there is democracy there is likely to be observance of the rule of law and of human rights.
We all need to put hands on deck to end wars and conflicts in Africa and prevent new ones from occurring. We need to deal in particular with the “Big Men” of Africa who commit to bringing peace and stability in their countries, but simultaneously tear them asunder by conflict and endless civil wars due to, in part, their refusal to relinquish power.

Fellow South Africans,

Africans need a leadership that is able to reconfigure the hidden dynamics in the world that shape the relationship between Africa as the powerless continent and the mighty in the world, because these are important in how trade and wealth accumulation are determined in the world.
We need a good leadership that takes on an iconoclastic character to providing African solutions to African problems.

Taking the aforementioned bold steps would ,among other things, help to improve the depressing investment climate on the continent.

Fellow South Africans,

As we begin the process of implementing Africa’s Vision 2063, we should draw inspiration from the words of Haile Selassie, when he once said, and I quote: “We remain persuaded that in our efforts to scatter the clouds which rim the horizon of our future, success must come, if only because failure is unthinkable.”

I thank you.