Former President Jerry John Rawlings has called for “a combined and renewed effort” by all to find answers that would ensure the growth required to eradicate poverty, while minimising the adverse social effects that go with globalisation.
He noted that the challenges facing the world to resolve poverty, which was the economic plight of Africa, were daunting.
“Africa cannot solve its problems on its own. The developed world, on the other hand cannot solve Africa’s problems. A combined and renewed effort must be made by all to find the answers that ensure the growth required to eradicate poverty while minimizing the adverse social effects that go with globalization,” he said.
Former President Rawlings was delivering a paper on “Mobilising African People for Economic Development” on Wednesday to a select audience at Africa House, New York University.
He said for meaningful economic development to take place, the human resource available must be mobilized and for effective mobilization to occur, leadership must be seen to be democratic and understand human values and their sensibilities.
“Democracy is therefore at the centre of mobilizing African people for economic development,” Former President Rawlings said.
He made a plea to the world’s economic powers that “henceforth, foreign governments, donor agencies and the Bretton Woods Institutions will tie their aid to non-corrupt practices by governments and not remove subsidies and safety nets to the poor and vulnerable on necessities such as drugs, water and electricity.”
“We want institutions to be challenged to make every effort to identify resources stashed away and repatriate the loot so uncovered to Africa for development to benefit all.
“We want our institutions of governance to be strengthened by insistence on an impartial and fair justice system, accountable governance and truly democratic parliaments.”
Former President Rawlings also said Africa’s educational institutions should to be strengthened and enlarged to provide more opportunity for the people; scholarships to be made available tenable not only in foreign institutions, but also in African institutions, and those who travel to pursue further academic work on scholarships to have such scholarships tied to a conditionality that sees them return to Africa to help it develop.
Former President Rawlings said Africa’s professionals should to be assisted with such facilities so that they would find it attractive to return to serve the interests of their peoples and for such assistance to continue so far as they conduct themselves in the best interests of their fellow citizens.
“We want to live and develop in dignity and not as paupers with begging cups in hand, and fighting one plague or conflict after another; we want to live the true meaning of the creed that all men are created equal. Even though this may seem a tall order, I am sure you will agree with me that it is not too much to ask for.”
Former President Rawlings said Africa needed external support in the form of financing, debt relief and revision of protectionist measures in developed countries.
On democracy in Africa, Former President Rawlings said he believed African culture and value systems had played a meaningful role in the past and must be allowed or helped to feature prominently in the democratic dispensation so that it can bridge the political divide where necessary, and provide the unifying force in mobilizing the African people for economic development.
He noted that on the Continent today, particularly in Ghana, introduction of western style democracy had virtually consigned the cultural and traditional personalities to an oblivious existence.
“Must we not be allowed to retain some of these cultural and traditional practices, the good ones still relevant, and marry them with the newly found western–style democratic dictates? Must we not hold on to those cultural values that helped us deal with conflict, famine and supplement them with the tenets of western democracies?” he asked.
Former President Rawlings said Africa must not give up what it had in order to access Western style governance.
He said much of the continent’s political instability was caused by the inability to fashion out workable political systems for the development of the individual countries.
Former President Rawlings noted that Africa had its traditional way of life, which is rich with the democracy and the “exported-from-the-west” way of multi-party democracy.
“If we could adopt your (West) style of multiparty practices without trampling on the civility, sensitivities and sensibilities in the logic of our rich culture, Africa could be teaching a thing or two about human values.”
Former President Rawlings said as political leaders and statesmen, the onus was on them to pursue an agenda that would let this happen, but asked whether “greed and the savagery of certain economic practices and the lust for power within and outside Africa would allow Africa to succeed in this priceless human quest”.
Former President Rawlings said there cannot be a meaningful dialogue about mobilizing African people for development without discussing the issue of corruption that has been the bane of development on the whole continent, and asked how people would be mobilised for development when they know that a few can take all they have worked for and deposit it in Western banks, and that the Western systems would give them shelter and protection.
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