Africa, Africa my heart bleeds for you! With the kind of leadership that we have who will need enemies?
With the media reports that we are getting from Nigeria, Africa we need to wake up, we really need a paradigm shift in the way we do things.
Nigeria is the largest producer of crude oil in Africa yet recently the fuel prices doubled after the government, at the behest of the International Monetary Fund, removed subsidies.
Price increases aside, the fact that Nigeria imports fuel boggles my mind.
We are talking here of the country that is one of the continent’s largest crude oil exporters.
Are we saying Nigeria has no capacity to refine the crude oil they produce so that it has to import refined petroleum products?
If things like this are allowed to continue can we then blame the “rebels” of the Delta Region for their continued “sabotaging” of the oil industry in Nigeria?
The challenge of Nigeria – as with every other African country - is not in that they don’t have the resources; but in the ownership and management of those resources.
The oil industry in Nigeria is controlled by foreign firms in the mould of Chevron, BP and the like.
The only local players in the Nigerian oil industry are the local workers at the wells and the importers of the refined fuel.
Nigeria is made to buy what initially belonged to itself – and at a higher price too!
This is where we have a problem.
Nigeria, like many other resource-rich African countries, has the capacity to be independent in many economic sectors but for as long as they don’t control those resources, the man on the street will continue to cry over prices beyond reach.
At present, the oil in Nigeria is benefitting a few elites who get money out of the cheap exportation of a national resource and those who buy back the refined product and sell it at IMF-proscribed double prices.
How on Earth can the Nigerian government allow fuel shortages?
If some remember, fuel in Libya under Muammar Gaddafi was probably the cheapest in the world. (It will be interesting to see the price trend in that country following NATO’s war.)
What is happening in Nigeria not only justifies the indigenization and empowerment policies that are being pursued by President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, but also send a clear warning to other African leaders that they should control their own resources.
In Libya, the late Muammar Gaddafi used the country’s oil wealth to ensure an improved standard of living for his people.
Libya had free electricity, and big subsidies in food and education.
Even though it was in the desert, Gaddafi guaranteed clean water and sanitation for every Libyan!
Libyan oil was owned and controlled by the indigenous people of Libya.
All that is over now and it is unlikely the people of Libya will continue to exercise sovereignty over their resources.
It was quite likely that soon what is happening in Nigeria will be happening in Libya.
Perhaps then it is not surprising that Nigeria was so supportive of the war in Libya and was among the first African countries to recognize the NATO-backed rebels.
The resources of any country on Earth belong to the people of that country and it is up to them to use them in the manner that they deem fit.
In this regard, President Robert Mugabe is a visionary and a true leader who has the needs of the people at heart.
The people of Zimbabwe are being empowered through the control of their resources via taking ownership of companies and mines under the indigenization policy.
Africans should not continue working for foreigners when they can be masters of their own destiny.
As the youth of Africa, or what Professor Jonathan Moyo would call “Generation 40”, we should refuse to remain mere wage workers when we have it in ourselves to be so much better.
We should control the means of production and distribution; from the land to the minerals and to the (banks).
Foreign ownership of our resources cannot continue with us foolishly expecting to one day miraculously develop.
But even in Zimbabwe things are not rosy.
The opponents of empowerment – such as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai - claim that it is better for the government to give the youth mere jobs!
Surely, the need to empower the people should never be subservient to the overarching goal of the attainment of true economic independence.
The argument that jobs should come first is another way of saying “let the country’s resources continue being looted and the wealth benefitting foreigners at the local people’s expense”.
National policy can surely not get any more foolish than that!
People have been getting jobs in foreign-owned firms for decades but look where Africa is: the youth have diminishing prospects by the day and the future gets bleaker.
Empowerment of local peoples requires the support of all Africans.
Of course, there will always be people who think otherwise and those who are too timid to take the bold first step.
But that should not stop the train.
Maybe Julius Malema is not playing the politics right in South Africa but his calls for empowerment are nothing short of right.
The African National Congress is sitting on a time bomb and should be urgently addressing the issues that Malema is raising.
Simply look at the poor millions who agree with him to get an idea of how big the explosion of that time bomb can be…
Africa needs more leaders in the mould of President Mugabe and as Zimbabweans go and vote this year, they should do so with a sense of destiny in their minds.
You do not want your children and grandchildren to spit on your grave saying: “If only our father/mother was not a fool to follow the words of the stooges of the West!”
• Dalla Bill is the pseudonym of a young Zimbabwean writer.