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Monday, 01 December 2008

Time for Toughlove in Africa?

Toughlove is an approach for the parents of troubled teenagers who are often struggling with a drug problem. Instead of taking a softly-softly approach, Toughlove focuses on discipline and parents' rights, instead of bowing to the demands of unruly children.
After World War 2, Germany was in ruins. Cities like Stuttgart were practically flattened. In some city blocks, only one or two houses remained standing. Millions of German men had died in the war. The Allies instituted a massive aid programme, called the Marshall Plan, to revive the German and European economy. Within 30 years Germany's was again the largest economy in Europe. If you drive through Stuttgart today, you can hardly believe that it was in ruins 65 years ago.
Since 1960, Africa has swallowed up no fewer than the equivalent of 6 Marshall Plans' worth of foreign aid, with no tangible results. Africa today, 50 or more years after the end of colonialism, is a sorry tale of civil wars, poverty, disease and corruption. As Dr Anthony Turton, the suspended CSIR scientist, has pointed out, it takes approximately 10 years for the colonial infrastructure to start crumbling due to neglect, criminal behaviour and incompetence. One only needs to think about Eskom and the coming water crisis to realize that he has a point. From that point it is all downhill to dire poverty.
The West's solution is limited to massive infusions of cash, which promptly gets stolen by a corrupt kleptocracy, as well as vague demands for Western-style democracy. Surely it must be obvious by now that democracy simply does not work in Africa. The reasons for this are not clear, and may include cultural differences. Those who lose elections often simply refuse to leave office - Kenia and Zimbabwe are obvious recent examples. However, democracy in a skills and integrity vacuum which is a feature of African society, is meaningless and a mere Western delusion.
Mass starvation is only a few months away in Zimbabwe, due to the above problems. As the comments to this article have pointed out, drastic action - Toughlove - is called for. That is unless the West abandons Africa as a perennial lost cause and allows the Chinese to re-colonize the continent.
By Toughlove I mean forceful measures that are coupled to foreign aid. If Africa's leaders continue to behave like unruly children, they should be treated as such. Measures can include, for example, steps to ensure that another Mugabe can never take over the reins of power in Zimbabwe, and to remove him from power if he refuses to leave of his own accord.
This could include military intervention as an option. It will take one cruise missile strike to remove Mugabe and his henchmen from power on a permanent basis. Perhaps such an intervention will make other miscreant leaders, like Kenia's, also think twice. Interestingly, this was a real threat issued against the previous government in South Africa. An American-funded airport was built in Botswana, for example, which was a clear threat of military intervention against the then white ruling party.
The above may seem draconian, but measured against the lives of millions of Zimbabweans, it's a no-brainer.
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