For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Mar 16th 2015
22 The EastAfrican OPINION MARCH 14-20,2015 Mandela the giant, Mbeki the bumble≥, Zuma the clown: SA loses mo≥al clout Mandela’s local act had global significa and South Africa w viewed as a contine and global moral fo tion. The hecklers wanted the president to respond to queries about use of public funds to renovate his private residence. But Zuma, with tragic sangfroid, laboured through his speech without responding to the questions. Former president Thabo Mbeki later stated that Zuma should have responded to the concerns raised. This scenario had all the elements J of theatre of the absurd: A bumbling successor to Nelson Mandela criticising his even more inept successor against the background of a country groping in the dark for its continental and global role. Nelson Mandela was a towering political and moral figure. By his actions, philosophy and life example he proposed a humanist set of values on which individuals should base their striving, and around which the country could build its nationhood. Mandela’s local actions had global significance, and during his presi- Tee Ngugi acob Zuma’s recent address to parliament was marred by heckling and interruptions from members of the opposi- dency, South Africa was viewed as a continental and global moral force. Many South Africans, even those who had supported apartheid, were proud of their country. At international conferences, people were drawn to South Africans, wanting to engage them on the bold and inspiring journey of national and personal reinvention they had begun. Enter Thabo Mbeki, a scholarly mind. Before assuming the presidency, Mbeki had spoken of a new Africa, criticising the pathological megalomania and personal aggrandisement that had held Africa back, a clear reference to the excesses of leaders such as Mobutu and Moi. He popularised the idea of an African Renaissance. When he became president, many proclaimed him to be Plato’s “philosopher king,” who would bring his intellectual power to bear on national, continental and global affairs, a worthy successor to Nelson Mandela. But as president, Thabo Mbeki not only failed to fit figuratively into Mandela’s huge shoes but instead redesigned them for a much smaller fit. Instead of tackling the Aids menace with programmes informed by medical research, Mbeki, advised by a But a harsher judgment by history awaits Mbeki’s successor. Zuma’s rule has been equal parts comedy and tragedy group of national and international quacks, disputed the causal link between HIV and Aids, which position informed a laughable AIDS policy. At an international symposium, his health minister presented, to the embarrassment of South Africans, beetroot as an alternative cure for Aids. It took the intervention of the re- tired Mandela for the government to start provision of antiretroviral treatment and to implement preventive education programmes. The economy, lacking innovation and strong leadership, stagnated and, as alarm grew over crippling crime, Mbeki and his lieutenants responded with the stock response of African dictators: Criticism was the work of a nostalgic colonialism! On continental affairs, Mbeki re- treated from his revolutionary vision of a progressive Africa free from pathological megalomania. Instead, he adopted the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil code of Africa’s leaders with respect to human-rights abuses and theft of public resources. Thus as Mugabe began to increasingly resemble the archetypal African tyrant, Mbeki justified his policy of appeasement with convoluted arguments about the hypocritical West. But the greatest disappointment came when Mbeki, instead of leveraging South Africa’s considerable diplomatic power, in support of actions to end the impunity of leaders suspected of all manner of crimes against humanity, sided with his fellow presidents, criticising the actions of the ICC. It is tragic that Mbeki will be remembered only as the man who took over from Nelson Mandela. But a harsher judgment by history awaits his successor. Jacob Zuma’s stewardship of South Africa has been equal parts comedy and tragedy. Here is head of a country ravaged by Aids, who thought that a quick shower after sexual intercourse would wash off the virus; and a man who indulges his appetite for wives at public expense and on public time. His diplomatic forays in Africa and the world are bereft of the Mandela idealism, informed as they are by the realpolitik of preserving the “dignity” of African leaders and Africa’s sovereignty. He too will appear in an even smaller footnote as the man who took over from Mbeki. Because of its leadership, post- apartheid South Africa has abdicated its role as “the conscience of Africa” to small Botswana. Shame. Af≥ica must lead in global fight against illegal fishing Pete≥ Eigen, Pete≥ Sinon piles of fish give the impression of abundance, but fishermen here — like their colleagues all around the continent — say catches are dwindling fast. Africa’s fish stocks are under enormous J pressure from overfishing, most of it by foreign boats that fish illegally. The question is whether Africa’s policy makers can rise to the challenge and whether Africa can play the pivotal role in tackling illegal fishing, a truly global issue. The AU-designated Decade of African Seas and Oceans (2015 to 2025), which begins this year, could hardly have come at a better moment. Managed well, for example, Africa’s fisher- ies could provide food security, jobs, export earnings, and vital ecological benefits for millions along the continent’s long coastlines — and on its archipelagos and islands too — for both present and future generations. But having caught all the fish in their own waters, foreign boats now seek to steal from Africa too. When they steal African fish, these foreign boats are stealing jobs and food. They also undermine, even collapse, the extensive networks of traders — many of them women — who buy, process, and sell fish across the continent. Experience from all around the world, including Africa, shows us that unemployment ust outside Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott, fish are piled high on tables along the seemingly endless beach that marks the border between desert and sea. The The good news is that in many ways Afri- For Africa’s policy makers, the prize is not just to rebuild fish stocks, but to also generate jobs, livelihoods, and food security for millions.” and poverty make fertile ground for political and social instability. “If these problems are not addressed, we are sowing the seeds of a bitter harvest,” wrote the former UN secretary-general and chair of the Africa Progress Panel Kofi Annan, in his foreword to the 2014 Africa Progress Report, Grain, Fish, Money: Financing Africa’s Green and Blue Revolutions. Indeed, some Somalis have described how subsequent droughts drove many nomads to settle along the Somali coast, where their livelihoods depended on inshore fishing. Competing with foreign boats, the fishermen took up arms to defend themselves, eventually turning to armed resistance and then to piracy. Whatever our motivation – politics, busi- ness, survival — we all of us around the world have a common interest in tackling this issue and making Africa’s fisheries more sustainable. can governments and citizens are leading the struggle. Driven by necessity, perhaps, the momentum for change is growing. In Sierra Leone, fishing communities have used GPS devices and cameras to identify and sanction trawlers working illegally in their waters. In Senegal, 600,000 fishermen and their families pressured their government ahead of an election to impound and fine the Oleg Naydenov, a Russian boat and repeat offender. In January, the AU’s outgoing chair, Mau- ritania, announced its launch of the Fishing Industry Transparency Initiative (FITI). Based on lessons learned from the extractives industries, FITI seeks to build trust between the government, business, and local communities by ensuring that fishing permits and contracts with foreign fleets are fully transparent. As a leader in this sector and highly de- pendent on its fishing industry, the Seychelles has also made good progress in tackling illegal fishing. The Indian Ocean archipelago shares intelligence with nearby coastal nations, arrests foreign boats that fish illegally, and is an early signatory of the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), a treaty that requires it to exert greater port controls on foreign-flagged vessels. When fully implemented, the PSMA will al- low a country to impound any boat and its fish not proven to be legally caught. In this way, it prevents illegally-caught fish from reach- South African President Jacob Zuma with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni during the former’sc state visit to Uganda on March 26, 2010. Pic: File ing the market and reduces the incentive for dishonest fishing. But needing 25 ratifications before coming into force, the treaty has just 11 signatures, of which only three are African — the Seychelles, Gabon, and Mozambique. With more than 35 coastal nations, there- fore, African leaders can step up — in line with the African Union’s 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy — to ratify this treaty, bringing it into force and benefiting not just Africa but the rest of the world. Co-operation against illegal fishing has cer- tainly become the name of the game. African governments and their partners must swap more intelligence, co-ordinate naval operations, and share better scientific information too. For Africa’s policy makers, the prize is not just to rebuild fish stocks, but to also generate jobs, livelihoods, and food security for millions along the continent’s coasts and in the inland regions for those who process and trade. Sustainable management of Africa’s fisher- ies may also win votes, prevent social instability, and build more trust between government and people. It is a prize to share. Pete≥ Eigen is a membe≥ of the Af≥ica P≥og≥ess Panel, founde≥ of T≥anspa≥ency Inte≥national, and founding chai≥ of the Ext≥active Indust≥ies T≥anspa≥ency Initiative; Pete≥ Sinon is a fo≥me≥ ministe≥ of natu≥al ≥esou≥ces fo≥ the Seychelles.
Mar 9th 2015
Mar 23rd 2015