Africa has a bright future: Nujoma
Q: Now that South Africa is back into the African fold, we have a total liberation of the continent, at least, politically. As an elder statesman, what message do you have for the current generation of Africans and their leaders? A: I would like to say that after the total liberation of the African continent in 1994 when South Africa became a genuine non-racial democratic country, we, as African countries, as African governments, must unite and embark upon a crash programme of what I call the second phase of the struggle, a struggle of economic independence. By this, I mean, we must, first of all, conduct scientific research and critically analyse what resources we have on the continent as a whole. After this research, we have to adopt priorities to ensure that Africa’s natural resources are not stolen or bought cheaply as they have been over the years to benefit non-African peoples. That all our resources should be processed here into finished products. For example, if it is copper, it must be processed into cables and the other by-products for export as finished products. That will provide employment for the African people and also bring in the necessary foreign currency that would further strengthen the African governments and economies. Agriculture must be a priority in order to produce adequate food for our people. In all this, the priority of priorities must be DRCongo. Congo is the heart of Africa, and it is the single richest country in the African Union. Just look at the country’s massive water resources, if Congo is developed agriculturally to the level of Switzerland where they cut the mountains and fill it with top soil to grow food, Congo can supply the whole of Africa with adequate food and have a surplus for export. Congo, again, has the second largest rapids in the world. If the Inga electric plant is utilized to its full capacity, it can provide the whole of Africa with adequate and cheaper electricity for the development of the continent, and again, have a surplus for export to Europe or Asia. Congo has that capacity, and therefore it should be a priority above all priorities in the development of the AU member states. And countries like Nigeria which have vast oil and gas resources should utilize them for the benefit of the African people. The other countries like Cameroon, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Angola should also refine their oil on the continent and only export it as finished products… Q: What about our immense mineral wealth? A: Yes, Africa is rich in other minerals. For example, Namibia, Zambia and DRCongo alone can control the world copper price. But now Congolese copper is being exported in its raw form, Zambian copper is being exported in its raw form, Namibian copper is being exported in its raw form. They are all being taken to Europe and elsewhere in their raw form. That must change if we, as a continent, are to develop. We must process these resources into finished products here on the continent. This, to me, should be the second phase of the struggle to empower our people. This phase should also cover education – proper education! We must educate our youth in the various disciplines, in subjects that are relevant to what Africa possesses as a continent and not in irrelevant subjects as we are currently doing, which, at the end of the courses, our students don’t know what they are going to do. Here in Namibia, for example, we have a lot of copper, we have uranium, but we always have droughts, in fact we’ve had a drought for the last three years, one of the severest in the history of the country. If we train our own engineers and scientists, we can desalinate the Atlantic sea water using nuclear energy or alternative desalination methods so that our towns like Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and the others can have enough water. Now all these resources like uranium are being taken out by foreign companies to benefit foreigners while we are struggling here… Q: Which brings me to Zimbabwe. You and most SADC leaders, in fact most African leaders, have staunchly supported President Mugabe in the face of the Western onslaught and strangulation of Zimbabwe. Why? Are you supporting him because you think that if we allow imperialism to sweep away Mugabe and Zanu-PF, who or what’s next in Africa? A: No! It is a question of Zimbabwe being a member of the SADC and a member of the African Union, so we cannot allow any foreigners to come and attack one of our members or single it out for overthrow. We say injury to one is injury to all. So if the imperialists are trying to divide us, we will not allow it, because our strength depends on unity – unity of purpose and action. Q: But is it just blind unity? Like his opponents at home and abroad say, President Mugabe is wrong on the land issue, he is abusing human rights, he is violating this and that, do you necessarily have to support him because of unity? A: No. What human rights? There are regular elections in Zimbabwe… The Zimbabwean people had the opportunity to democratically elect their president, and they did! The imperialists recognized the seats won by their puppets in Zimbabwe, but they don’t recognize the seats won by ZANU-PF. So what kind of democracy is that? They are hypocrites! … Q: As you prepare to retire as one of Africa’s elder statesmen, how do you see the future of the continent? Any hope for the African Union? A: The continent has a bright future. We only need to educate our own scientists, our own engineers, our own geologists, our own marine experts, our own agriculturists, and properly utilize the resources we have on the continent. This is the richest continent in the whole world! In terms of natural resources, African can only be challenged maybe by the Russian Federation and China. Maybe. Africa is the richest continent on earth, and with a small population too!