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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Whither Africa?

By Frank Kimboy

....Presenting his paper titled ‘Exiting the Crisis of Capitalism or Capitalism in Crisis’, a renowned academic from Egypt, Prof Samir Amin, argued that capitalism was responsible for the economic downturn. He strongly suggested that Africa’s future could be secured through embracing socialism.

But other scholars differed, noting that capitalism had nothing to do with the economic meltdown. On the contrary, they said that it is capitalism which has enabled the world weather the crisis gracefully.

But Prof Amin hit out at capitalism, noting that the current form of capitalism had led to the decline of democracy since the ruling class was becoming a rent-capturing plutocracy.

He said the recent financial breakdown outlined the difficulties within capitalism system, saying the financial crisis was producing not recession but rather veritable, profound depression.

“But beyond this, other dimensions of the crisis of this system have surfaced in public consciousness before even financial meltdown. We know the sort of labels: energy crisis, food crisis, environment crisis, climate change and numerous aspects of contemporary challenges are produced in daily basis,” Prof Amin said.

According to him, the current political status of the world was dominated by extreme violence because, for the imperialist countries to maintain their status of affluent, they were compelled to limit the access to the world’s natural resources to their own exclusive benefit.

He added that under contemporary capitalism, NATO under the ‘Washington project’ has been for instance waging pre-emptive wars against terror, in a bid to control the planet.

“The pre-emptive war on terror has portrayed itself as the representative of international community and therefore marginalised the United Nations, the only institution entitled to speak in this name,” he said.

Prof Amin is of opinion that under imperialism, the current war of North, conducted by United States and its allies, could not end, adding that the G20 meeting held in London in April 2009 did not mark the reconstruction of the world as stated but rather a permanent war of north against south.

He said he was certain that the US, Japan and some of Europe super powers, being the capitalism oligarch, would work hard to restore the system but he warned that it will in fact exacerbate the gravity of crisis.

His presentation drew a wide range of discussion, with some participants doubting whether Africa could embrace socialism and succeed in transforming its economy as past experiences have proved otherwise.

Dr Azaveli Lwaitama, a senior lecturer at university of Dar es Salaam, wondered whether with the current situation where the whole system has been intoxicated with capitalism could enable a country like Tanzania re-introduce the principles of Arusha Declaration, the blue print of Tanzania socialism adopted under Mwalimu Julius Nyerere leadership.

“Under Arusha Declaration people were not supposed to have more than one salary or houses but with the current situation where everything is expensive I doubt if we can go back to those principles, we need to think carefully,” Dr Lwaitama cautioned.

Others cited the failure of socialism under Nyerere regime as a hindering factor towards returning to socialism, because most people tend to have negative perception of the ‘failed’ system.

Mr John Simiyu said it was difficult for Africa to adopt socialism while the rest of the world was under capitalism system.

He said even the ‘Nyerere socialism’ failed because the rest of East Africa was under capitalism hence it became very difficult for Tanzania to go alone and make the model to flourish.

“Nyerere betrayed the rest of the region and adopted socialism and nationalised all companies and industries but the industries demised shortly afterwards, something that would happen again (if we re-introduce the system) especially during this time where integration is a key to any state's economy,” he said.

Mr Ibrahim Ndeza, a UDSM student, argued that it was very difficult for Africa to return to socialism because most of its leaders were corrupted by capitalism model.

He added that for any country to become successful under any model, language was a key component to assist the move, but Africa has got no lingua franca of its own.

The symposium also witnessed the launching of a new course titled ‘Pan African Thoughts and Practices’ which will be taught at UDSM beginning 2011 to all second year students.

Speaking during the launching of the course, the UDSM's head of College of Arts and Social Sciences Prof Betramu Mapunda, said the course has been introduced because Africa would in near future, require Pan Africa thoughts to deal with various challenges.

Speaking during the symposium, Samia Nkurumah, the daughter of Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, who was also the chief guest during the opening of the symposium, called on Africa to unite and integrate in order to better serve its people socially, economically and politically.

“Regional integrations as well as integrating with Africans in diaspora are inevitable to any country because only through unity and integration, any country would serve its people” she said.

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