Debate on Africa Day

BY
HON MB GWALA MPL, KZN LEGISLATURE

Hon Speaker,

Africa Day is the day when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU), was formed in 1963. It acknowledges the progress that we, as Africans, have made, while reflecting upon the common challenges we face in a global environment.

The significance of this day is to reflect the aspirations of African people who want to break free from the chains of the past such as poverty and disease, and to achieve economic freedom. There is a strong feeling deep down in our hearts that a brighter day is rising upon Africa.

We owe a big debt of gratitude for the freedoms we now enjoy to the African leaders and heads of state, who met in Addis Ababa in May 1963 to develop a master plan to liberate the people of Africa from the brutal rule of the colonial regime. This day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the progress made thus far.

The African struggle against colonialism reflected strong commitment on the part of the Africans to break the political and economic stranglehold on the African continent, superimposed by European imperial powers through the Berlin Conference, presided over by the German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, from 1884 to 1885.

The African Union is very central to the realisation of the goals of the African Agenda. It is through its tools such as the African Peer review Mechanism that can be utilized for the establishment of African solutions to African problems. The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was established in 2003 by the New Partnership for Africa (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) as an instrument for monitoring performance in governance among Member States.

The Mechanism’s primary objective is to foster the adoption of policies, values, standards and practices of political and economic governance that lead to political stability, accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration, economic growth and sustainable development.
Our people remain exposed to disease and malnutrition, with high rates of child mortality and declining life expectancy, despite significant medical advances and improved health care provision.

Parts of our continent are still plagued by war and conflict, political instability, and the removal of governments by unconstitutional means. In such circumstances, development is stifled and economic activity severely curtailed. It is the ordinary people who suffer, the very people that we in this House represent.

A better Africa stands in front of us all, but it takes combined efforts by the captains who are steering our economies, our social-political development, our continental integrity to define our destiny as people. We would love to see an Africa that does not make any more excuses for a lack of life for its people.

It is about time Africa wakes up and realise that it is the richest continent on mother earth but full of very poor inhabitants. African politicians should desist from being selfish and corrupt. Africa must ally itself and enjoy its God given resources. The Africa Unite dream must come true. Our hope is that African people stand in solidarity with another against despotism and refuse to be hoodwinked into hating their immigrant fellow Africans for taking their livelihoods yet is the failed and incompetent governments across the continent that generate into economic and political refugees.
How many of us have done something tangible over the past year to combat the scourge of xenophobia in our country, which targets Africans of other nations resident in South Africa? Let us not pretend that xenophobia does not exist, but rather make this Africa Day a clarion call to address its route causes and eradicate this phenomenon from our country forever.

The IFP agrees that the cultural renaissance must emancipate people. This requires a continent-wide mobilisation to promote dialogue between people, states and civilisations. Africa is torn by needless conflicts and wars arising from an intolerance of cultural diversities and identities, religious tensions and lack of appreciation for cultural diversity. Former victims of colonisation continue to victimise others among themselves.
We must invest in leadership and entrepreneurial skills for our youth to enable them to face the future with confidence and play a more meaningful role in building society.

We must do a critical assessment of our role on the continent and the current status of Africa. The question we should be able to answer is how we intend to move forward from this current situation, considering lessons we draw from our past.

Hon Speaker, we must recall what other African leaders such as Mr Julius Nyerere, a Tanzanian anti-colonial activist, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, they all advocated for African Unity.

We must aim to achieve exactly the objectives set by these African leaders before and during the establishment of the OAU.

The IFP is proud of the ability of the African people to constitute a united international voice to combat the collective and common challenges faced by black African people across the world.

Kulolusuku lwanamhlanje sonke asihlangane sibe imbuba ekulwisaneni nazozonke izinkinga ezikhungethe bonke abantu baseZwenikazi lase-Afrika ezithunaza isithunzi sabo emehlweni omhlaba jikelele.

I thank you