Union of South­ern Africa solves colo­nial­ism

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Her­bert Vi­lakazi

THE PEO­PLE of Botswana, Le­sotho, Swazi­land, Mozam­bique, Zim­babwe, South Africa, Zam­bia, Malawi, Tan­za­nia and Namibia should form a “Union of South­ern Africa”. The present ter­ri­to­rial bound­aries are ar­ti­fi­cial, hav­ing been ar­bi­trar­ily drawn by Euro­pean colo­nial­ists guided only by Euro­pean in­ter­ests and mo­tives.

The for­ma­tion of this union should be in stages; the first stage is the for­ma­tion of an Eco­nomic Union, em­bod­ied in a Cen­tral Eco­nomic Coun­cil for South­ern Africa.

This eco­nomic union should go much fur­ther than the mere for­ma­tion of a ”sin­gle trade area”; in­deed, much fur­ther than Nepad: this Cen­tral Eco­nomic Coun­cil for South­ern Africa should be the de­ci­sive arm and brain in for­mu­lat­ing plan­ning and in­vest­ment poli­cies for the en­tire union.

The for­ma­tion of this union shall be in stages also in the sense that not all the cur­rently ex­ist­ing states may agree to merge at the same time, even at the eco­nomic level: the union may be­gin, per­haps, with the agree­ment of two, or per­haps four, na­tion-states; oth­ers may follow later, as hap­pened with the EU.

The fail­ure of de­vel­op­ment and psy­cho­log­i­cal-men­tal ill­nesses are on such a large scale now that African so­ci­eties are fac­ing a catas­tro­phe sim­i­lar to a war sit­u­a­tion. A se­ri­ous war threat, or a war sit­u­a­tion, such as that faced by Bri­tain in 1940, re­quires cen­tralised decision-mak­ing, cen­tralised plan­ning, and mo­bil­i­sa­tion of re­sources.

Leon Trot­sky warned, in his crit­i­cism of Stal­in­ist plan­ning, that cen­tralised man­age­ment of the econ­omy im­plies not only great ad­van­tages but also the “dan­ger of cen­tral­is­ing the mis­takes”.

Ra­tio­nal plan­ning re­quires the in­clu­sion of demo­cratic dis­cus­sion, demo­cratic con­trol and a crit­i­cal spirit, within the cen­tral­i­sa­tion and plan­ning process.

Cap­i­tal­ism gave rise to eco­nomic and cul­tural pro­cesses that tend to cross all ter­ri­to­rial bound­aries in the world; cap­i­tal­ism also gen­er­ated the mod­ern de­sires for equal­ity and free­dom. The pos­i­tive fea-

Ra­tio­nal plan­ning re­quires the in­clu­sion of demo­cratic dis­cus­sion, demo­cratic con­trol and a crit­i­cal spirit, within the cen­tral­i­sa­tion and plan­ning process.

tures of cap­i­tal­ism be­came in­ter­twined with its neg­a­tive fea­tures. Both the pos­i­tive fea­tures and neg­a­tive fea­tures of cap­i­tal­ism call for co-op­er­a­tion and plan­ning among na­tion-states. The dan­gers of war and de­struc­tion, alone, call for co-op­er­a­tion and plan­ning among na­tions.

In­te­gra­tion of na­tion-states at the re­gional level, and across the ter­ri­to­rial bound­aries of the globe, is a univer­sal in­ner urge and ten­dency of our time.

This univer­sal urge and ten­dency must be knit to­gether and guided by jus­tice and equal­ity for all com­mu­ni­ties. The in­te­gra­tion of eco­nomic and sci­ence ac­tiv­i­ties is oc­cur­ring in­for­mally across na­tion-states; what needs to oc­cur now is the for­mal­i­sa­tion of this in­te­gra­tion at the po­lit­i­cal level. Th­ese ten­den­cies, and this urge, are also man­i­fest­ing them­selves in south­ern Africa.

We need a sin­gle in­vest­ment plan for the en­tire south­ern Africa. The over­all plan­ning for the de­vel­op­ment of south­ern Africa, and the in­vest­ment de­ci­sions, should be made by the Cen­tral Eco­nomic Coun­cil for South­ern Africa.

This plan­ning and in­vest­ment coun­cil should be com­posed of rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in equal num­ber, of all na­tion-states com­pris­ing the union. The plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment fund in the hands of this coun­cil should aim to ac­com­plish the fol­low­ing:

To plan and de­velop the in­fra­struc­ture for the en­tire south­ern Africa: the so­lu­tion of the wa­ter prob­lem in the re­gion; elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and al­ter­na­tive sources of power; telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion; roads; rail­ways; air­ports; and har­bours.

De­velop the in­fra­struc­ture for ed­u­ca­tion, health and en­vi­ron­men­tal care.

The most im­por­tant chal­lenge fac­ing the Cen­tral Eco­nomic Coun­cil for South­ern Africa should be the ini­ti­a­tion of the agri­cul­tural revo­lu­tion in the re­gion. The aim, here, is to de­velop agri­cul­ture to be an eco­nomic as­set of the first or­der, as a foun­da­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion and the African con­ti­nent.

The World Bank has writ­ten: “Africa’s farm­ers and agri-business could cre­ate a tril­lion-dol­lar food mar­ket by 2030 if they can ex­pand their ac­cess to more cap­i­tal, elec­tric­ity, bet­ter tech­nol­ogy and ir­ri­gated land to grow high value nu­tri­tious foods.”

Non-chem­i­cal-based agri­cul­ture shall have an enor­mous im­pact on the health of hu­man be­ings con­sum­ing that food. The first medicine the hu­man body gets is food. Non-chem­i­cal-based agri­cul­ture shall con­sid­er­ably lower the med­i­cal ex­penses of gov­ern­ment.

An over­all aim of this strat­egy is to bring about bal­anced, ra­tio­nal, just de­vel­op­ment in the en­tire re­gion, bring­ing about eco­nomic-so­cial equal­ity be­tween the dif­fer­ent parts of south­ern Africa.

To stop mil­lions of peo­ple from poorer re­gions of south­ern Africa flock­ing to South African ur­ban ar­eas for jobs and bet­ter liv­ing con­di­tions, the coun­cil should plan, en­cour­age and di­rect in­vest­ments to less de­vel­oped parts of the re­gion.

There are sound, com­pelling eco­nomic rea­sons for the for­ma­tion of this Cen­tral Eco­nomic Coun­cil for South­ern Africa. The eco­nomic prob­lems of each of th­ese na­tion-states shall be solved much bet­ter and ef­fec­tively, if th­ese na­tion-states be­come a sin­gle eco­nomic union guided by a ra­tio­nal over­all plan. Pro­fes­sor Her­bert Vi­lakazi is an in­de­pen­dent scholar and con­trib­uted this ar­ti­cle in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity. Note: This is part 1 or a 2-part se­ries on this topic. Part 2 will be pub­lished this Fri­day. Ref­er­ence works used in this piece have been ac­knowl­edged by the ed­i­tor.

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