Africa Day has lost meaning

HARARE - Today was supposed to be a significant day for Zimbabwe and indeed for Africa as a whole in celebrating the continent’s uniqueness and dreams of its founding fathers, but that has not been the case.

Most African governments have nothing to celebrate or be proud of on Africa Day as the continent’s political leadership has failed to take advantage of the liberalisation of the political system and the growth of democracy on the continent to come up with a strong Pan-Africanist body.

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was established in 1963 due to rising Pan Africanism shortly after the Second World War, and was created to promote unity and solidarity among African States as well as to rid the continent of colonisation and apartheid.

Critics believe that the establishment of the OAU was such an important point in the continent’s history that the date of its creation is celebrated as Africa Day.

However, celebrating the Day has become meaningless over time, as democracy has remained a pipe dream as those in power have gravitated towards self-aggrandisement at the expense of the majority.

The African Union, which replaced the OAU in 2001, has failed to stop the continent from bleeding, as wars and epidemics continue to ravage our beloved countries while those entrusted to lead turn a blind eye.

In most countries across the continent, former freedom fighters have turned into selfish tyrants — interested only in the primitive accumulation of wealth and retaining power at all costs.

Like most progressive Africans, we advocate for a new system that requires African people to control their governments and that issues of financial planning and budgeting are discussed in the villages, townships and cities across the continent.

What is required is a departure from the current retrogressive politics in most African States where the leadership has taken — to cultural proportions — the tendency to turn their backs on the people as soon as they take office.

There is now an urgent need to create new democratic institutions to strengthen popular participation and representation.

Parliamentary democracy on its own is not enough — it must be supplemented with and strengthened by other popular institutions and associations like the local governments, civic movements, independent workers, women, student and youth organisations, assemblies or organisations for the environmental concerns and for minority rights, and so forth.

A new leadership must ensure this is the dominant political culture, with enough flexibility to allow for changes when they are needed to strengthen and further consolidate that culture.

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