Arthur Mutambara
Pres., Movement for Democratic Change (Zimbabwe)

Re: What forces have shaped modern Africa?

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A litany of troubles.

Arthur Mutambara

Arthur Guseni Oliver Mutambara, a Zimbabwean political figure and scholar has served as the President of a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change since February 2006, a position previously held by secretary general Welshman Ncube. The Movement for Democratic Change split in 2005 after a dispute over whether or not to participate in Zimbabwean parliamentary election. Born May 25, 1966, Mutambara was a strong voice in the Zimbabwean student movement in 1988 and 1989, leading anti-government protests at the University of Zimbabwe, which led to his eventual arrest and detention. He continued his education as a Rhodes scholar at Merton College, Oxford in the United Kingdom, obtaining a Ph.D. in Robotics and Mechatronics. In his field he had taught at a number of universities in the United States including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has published three books on engineering including: Design and Analysis of Control Systems, Decentralized Estimation, and Control for Multisensor Systems and Mechatronics and Robotics. Additionally, he has served as a professor of Business Strategy and as a consultant for the management-consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Since September 2003 he has worked as the Managing Director and CEO of Africa Technology and Business Institute.

The stepping point should always be the fact that Africans must take responsibility for their own actions. (7) Africans must take responsibility for the problems they are facing. It has been 50 years since Ghana’s independence in 1957. It has been 27 years since the independence of Zimbabwe. It has been 13 years since the independence of South Africa. So whatever is happening in Africa, we as Africans must take responsibility for our circumstances. There has been a major failure around vision in Africa – political vision and economic vision. There has been major failure around leadership – political leadership and economic leadership. So Africans . . . We Africans are guilty as charged in terms of failure. Having said that, prior to our independence, and even after our independence, there have been external factors that have made our existence and our development very problematic. Before independence, ________ slavery and the slave triangle. That distorted the history and trajectory of Africa’s development. After slavery, the project of colonialism. That, again, disturbed and changed the history and trajectory of African development. Okay? And then we fought wars and struggles of independence and anti-colonialism. We managed to get our independence. After that independence, there still were elements of neo-colonialism and external factors, external corporations, external governments that were involved in a negative way in our economic operations. In terms of manipulation of the economy, ownership of the industries without actually cultivating and building infrastructure and so on and so forth, promoting civil wars. Western powers were involved in pitting one ethnic group against another. Western powers and companies in Africa were involved – are involved in using ethnic conflicts to get access to diamonds, access to oil, and so on and so forth. So these are some of the forces that have led to our challenges in Africa – slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, and sheer greed. (7)(8)And also double standards, hypocrisy and duplicity in terms of foreign policy by the west. For example, America. We all love America, don’t we? But America and Africa supported Mobutu Sese Seko who was a dictator in Zaire. America supported Savimbi who was a rebel and a destructive player in Africa. They did that because those characters were anti-communist, and they were serving the American agenda of anti-Soviet expansion. So we don’t blame the Americans, because America is pursuing their own political and ______ agendas; but it had a negative impact on our development. And also we were fighting for our independence. The assistance we got was from the east, not the west. And so Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Kadafi. These characters, as despicable as some of them are, were very central in assisting us in achieving our independence. So these are some of the forces and players that have led to where Africa is today. But when the chips are down, the buck stops with the Africans.(8) Because Japan was wiped out in the Second World War; but today Japan is a global player. They managed to fix themselves up since 1945. But in Ghana – 1957 to now – they haven’t done that. In Zimbabwe, 27 years. So we’re not actually scapegoating. We’re just analyzing the factors. But the bulk of the blame, the responsibility, lies with us. We are guilty as charged as Africans. But we’re waking up, and we are working on making African countries globally competitive through science and technology, and also leveraging globalization. We shall overcome all those subjects. Recorded On: 7/5/07