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Africa: the KEY Question (Debt Relief, Development & Values)

Alan Tonkin

With the impetus of the ‘Make Poverty History’  campaign growing stronger and stronger day by day as we approach the Gleneagles summit, I’m delighted Alan Tonkin has allowed me to reproduce this new feature from his Global Values Network web site. (GVN is one of the most advanced in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at both national, international and even global levels.)

 Alan’s piece is a thoughtful but impassioned piece for the G8 leaders to adopt a multi-vMEME approach to the many different problems facing Africa.



In considering the current debate around the forthcoming G8 Meeting to be held at Gleneagles in the UK and the position of a number of the G8 countries on debt relief, there is little doubt that there are high expectations that the developed nations will go some way to resolving the debt burdens of the poorer countries, particularly in Africa.

Africa is the only continent where living standards have declined over the last 20 years. To some extent this is due to the debt burden many countries carry and their repayment commitments but in many cases this is also the result of dictatorships, poor governance and general mismanagement of their economies.

In looking at the likely approach from countries such as the US and UK, there is little doubt that debt relief will need to be matched by improving governance and democratic systems in those nations benefiting from the relief. This is currently being highlighted by the situation in Zimbabwe with hundreds of thousands of black urban dwellers being made homeless by the regime of Robert Mugabe, while at the same time neighbouring countries seem helpless and do little to stop this taking place.

NEPAD and good governance in Africa
The New Program for African Development has now been running for a number of years. Included in the programme is a peer review mechanism as well as other checks and balances. However, at this stage only a handful of countries have signed up for peer review and even for those who have, these have been progressing at a slow pace.

President Thabo Mbeki has been one of the driving forces in this process and yet has been either unsuccessful or unwilling to put pressure on Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. The United Nations have sent a Commissioner to Harare to collect information on the latest move by the Mugabe regime to relocate political opponents back to the rural areas and to destroy their power base in the cities.

However, simultaneously there are encouraging signs within South Africa where the President removed the Deputy President due to a possible corrupt relationship with his financial advisor who has now been convicted of fraud and corruption. This move was seen as a brave move by President Mbeki to stamp out corruption at all levels of society by taking action against the man holding the second highest political position in the land. This has also resulted in criticism of the President by many of the supporters of the Deputy President who share similar values in the RED/BLUE range.

The view of the developed nations
What is likely to be the response at the G8 Meeting of the inability of Africa’s leaders to react speedily and decisively to the issue of good governance? It is said that the European Union leaders are more open to making contributions to Africa than President George W Bush but overall there have been more promises than funds delivered.

Africa is a mix of values systems ranging from RED/PURPLE/BEIGE to BLUE/ORANGE with some GREEN. Africa’s democracy needs to be tailored to the needs of the predominant values systems in a particular society. For example what is required in Zimbabwe is a move from Tribal/Warlords (PURPLE/RED) to strong clear but fair rules and regulations in order to move that society into BLUE/ORANGE.

The DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) also requires a similar approach but will need to remain in BLUE for longer as the systems are even less established in that country with its history over the last 30 years. There are many other examples of countries which still need much attention including Somalia (RED Warlords), Burundi (PURPLE/RED with BLUE emerging), Sierra Leone (Tribal PURPLE/RED Warlords), the Ivory Coast and others. On the other hand not all is bad as African democracy is progressing apace in parts of the continent including South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and others.

South Africa has an economy typical of emerging developing nations such as Brazil and India. The first economy spans BLUE (rules), ORANGE (business) and GREEN (environmental) values. The second emerging economy on the other hand covers PURPLE (tribal), RED (warlords) and BLUE (rules). In this situation literally millions have made the transition from the second to first economy over the last 15 years and an increasing number will do so in the next 15 years. China of course is another country that can be considered, even though the growth level here is in excess of those above and it is a unique case of a country modernising.

Perversely in Zimbabwe, by destroying the homes and livelihood of the urban poor, the Mugabe regime are setting back the economic transformation of the country by years if not decades. What is required from the developed economies of the G8 is a firm but fair approach based on playing the game by the global rules. This demands transparency, the rule of law and a free press, among others.

A possible approach using values
In order to resolve the issues of Africa there should be increasing levels of debt relief and other assistance for countries genuinely trying to democratise. At the same time those countries with corrupt regimes should get no assistance other than basic food aid, but again strictly on the basis it is managed and distributed by neutral international agencies. Too often regimes such as the one in Zimbabwe use food and housing as a way of controlling the urban poor and rural peasantry.

It is important to note how far Zimbabwe has gone down the Spiral, with the Mugabe regime recently inviting a host of African and other leaders to attend Robert Mugabe’s 10th Wedding Anniversary. At the same time the poor were being evicted from their homes in the townships around the major cities and towns with no shelter to go to in mid-Winter where the nights are bitterly cold, particularly for children and the aged.

The UN also needs to be more efficient regarding the assistance programs it controls. The ‘Oil for Food Scandal’ in Iraq shows how programs with admirable intent can be used by corrupt dictators to further their own agendas. As part of the reform of the UN, it will be necessary to ensure that the organisation is able to become more innovative in the way it operates. In values terms it needs to adopt an integral approach to problem solving using different approaches to fit the circumstances.

For those who understand the Values Technology there is a clear way ahead. However, it is a process not an event which in some cases will take African nations many years if not decades to achieve. The more positive side of this is that new and emerging technologies will encourage the move to a more mature type of multi-party democracy within a relatively short time for those countries who have the leadership and who are prepared to take up the challenge.

In concluding this brief, it is important to note that progress will often be slow and uneven. In many cases African nations are in a time warp where their stage of development from a values and development perspective is still in the 19th Century. This requires an understanding from those in the developed world on how to manage these societies in a positive way to assist in bringing them into the 21st Century.

At Gleneagles this will require innovative integral thinking from World Leaders of the G8 and other organisations who will need to ensure that successes are rewarded in order to encourage those who follow. The challenge is not only for Africa but for all of us to rise to that challenge, if we as a global community are to prosper and move forward in our constant search for improving the lives of the less fortunate global citizens who make up more than 50% of the global population.



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