Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A new era for Africa?

The latest rumours leaking out from Harare today suggest that the actual election results from the Zimbabwe elections at the weekend are about 60% MDC in the Parliament and 55% Tsvangerai 40% Mugabe in the Presidential.

The bogosphere is alive with stories of Generals refusing to support the man who put them there, fearing that the level of opposition is just too high.

Apparently, although hotly denied officially, South Africans are in Harare trying to negotiate some kind of a settlement for Mugabe to leave peacefully on his own terms.

This is an intersting story with the potential to make a massive difference to the entire continent of Africa.

Firstly, if as we all hope and pray, the Mugabe regime ends relatively peacefully this will have been the second occasion this year that genuine democratic change has occurred in previous trouble spots in Africa without resorting to a major civil war (East Africa was the first) and secondly, it will prove that African nations can work together to support the peoples of each nation on the continenent, because on both occasions change will have been brought about for Africans, by Africans without any interference of outsiders.

One of the primary ingredients for economic growth and prosperity for any nation is investment and in the modern world that means encouraging international business and global investors.

Those investors require punitive returns bordering on exploitation in order to risk their money in regions and countries controlled on the whim of a dictator or where the rule of law is absent.

But in contrast, in African countries where the rule of law and a free democracy is proven to be established - and especially where it has been tested and found resiliant- external investment has flourished, the length of term for investors has extended massively and most important the level of return needed to attract their money has diminished, leaving more in the productive economy and creating wealth there.

So the implications o a relatively peaceful handover of power from Mugabe to someone else run much wider than just Zimbabwe, the whole continent of Africa could benefit.

It's a bit early to tell, and we may yet be disappointed, but Africa could be on the threshold of a major new era of stability, peace and growing prosperity.

Update April 4th - sadly the latest news coming from Harare is much less promising that when I wrote this. I will post again as and when we know what is actually going to happen.

No comments: