Africa Day

Africa Day was celebrated on 25 May. Many readers may wonder what interest there can be for the average Pretorian in this continental celebration. The reason is that we are part of this continent and many issues that we are faced with on local level also reflect many of the problems that the continent is faced with. We are truly a microcosm of the greater Africa.

Over the past two years things have started to look up for this continent in terms of its economic potential, but warning signs on the South African labour front indicate that this promised economic boom in Africa might be short lived.

The Economist magazine recently wrote that our region’s economy is growing faster than that of any other region in the world.

The International Monetary Fund recently predicted that this economic boom would continue for many years.

However, his boom might be diffused early on if the said warning signs are not heeded.

South Africa’s continued labour problems with feuding unions dragging the rand down and causing investors to lose confidence, must be tackled at the highest level.

Other problems for economic growth are poor infrastructure, poor intercontinental transport facilities and of course the perennial conflicts that have always plagued Africa.

Many African countries are caught up in recurrent political conflicts that often culminate in devastating wars. These flaring conflicts and wars create harrowing economic hardships, dire refugee problems and sustain a sense of despair in such countries.

This is the story across much of Africa, where nearly half of the continent’s 53 countries are suffering from active conflict or a recently ended one.

“There were more highly violent conflicts in Africa in 2012 than at any time since 1945,” said, the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict.

Wars ruin a country’s economy, including the health sector. Devastated by war a post-conflict government has got insufficient revenue to spend on the health sector which faces enormous demands. At the same time donors are often reluctant to fund improvements in the health sector before they can be certain that peace can be sustained.

“Our nation today is adrift and in danger,” the former president Thabo Mbeki recently warned in a lecture on Oliver Tambo at the ANC centenary celebrations at the University of Fort Hare.

He said he was filled with a feeling of unease about our current situation.

“My feeling of unease is informed by what I sense is a pervasive understanding throughout the nation that there is no certainty about our future with regard to any of our known challenges, and therefore for the future of the nation.

“My feeling of unease is further informed by the fears I know are shared by many throughout our continent that they face the threat that because of our internal conflicts, South Africa can lose its ability to defend its possibility to be an example of resolute African independence, self-determination and African pride.”

Fred Boshoff

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