Political parties on Wednesday reflected on the recent economic growth of Africa, but cautioned that the continent needed effective leaders and governance organisations to ensure freedom and growth were enjoyed by all on the continent.
Members of the opposition and ruling party addressed the National Assembly in a joint sitting of the National Council of Provinces and National Assembly, the state BuaNews agency reports. Africa Day marks 48 years since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa.
Since 2002, the African Union (AU) has taken over the role played by the OAU, and represents 53 African states. The Democratic Alliance’s Kenneth Mubu said political independence in Africa could not be achieved while it was economically deprived. “The recent World Economic Forum on Africa held here in Cape Town observed that Africa was indeed on the road to economic growth that had not been seen in past decades. However, the reality is that much of the so-called economic advances have not translated into quality growth, as former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo observed,” Mubu said.
He said though southern Africa was one of the most stable regions on the continent, the economic and political stability of Zimbabwe and Swaziland were a concern. Protests in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, he said, should be a reminder that Africans will no longer tolerate tin-pot dictators.
ANC speaker Mathole Motshekga called on South Africans to set up solidarity groups to support Southern Sudan as it moved to become an independent state, and to help spread awareness on the people of Western Sahara, who as the continent’s last remaining colony, were ruled over by Morocco.
The Independent Democrats’ Lance Greyling said although Africa was rising economically, the continent’s nations needed to ensure it had effective governance institutions. This was echoed by Cope’s Hilda Ndude, who said former president Thabo Mbeki’s vision of Africa working as a united continent had “disintegrated” and that Africa remained impoverished because of poor leadership, despite being rich in minerals and other commodities.
She commended the establishment of an African human rights court, but lamented that individuals could not approach the court directly, only certain groups such as state parties and the Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights and other African human rights groups could do so. Ndude called for South Africans to rectify the protocol to allow for individuals to also be able to approach the court.
Ndude also called for South Africa to make Africa Day a public holiday, as it is in Kenya and Tanzania.