Be Wary of Western Influence


What does 2014 hold for the African continent? Already the year has started on a negative note for some of the continent’s regions.

After only two-and-a-half years following its birth, South Sudan, has already plunged into an armed conflict between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, his former vice president. The conflict has taken an ethnic dimension with fighting escalating and triggering a humanitarian crisis in the Africa Union’s newest member.

It is estimated that 1 000 people have been killed while another 200 000 have been displaced since the conflict broke out. South Sudan’s army has been split into two with forces loyal to Machar controlling several parts of the country including some oil installations. 

This has raised fears of another failed state on the African continent. Talks to resolve the crisis began on January 5 in Ethiopia under the mediation of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which groups eight East African countries.

It is commendable that efforts are underway to restore peace in South Sudan but the begging question is why can’t such disputes be prevented from erupting? Perhaps the answer could be found in Canada-based Zimbabwean blogger Tsungai Chipato’s argument that “African politics or its institutions have not yet mastered the manner in which democratic institutions can be used to influence power without causing uprisings amongst the populace”.

“Positions and institutions within Africa are attached to the individuals holding the seat of power,” writes Chipato. Solutions and policies must be inclusive to prevent disgruntlement.

Chipato’s arguments seem to hold water when you look at the conflicts that continue to dog some African countries. But is such a scenario, a making of the African continent or there are forces that help create and perpetuate such a state of affairs. Some observers believe Western interference in African affairs and its prescribed solutions are but beginning to appear to be the precursor of ethnic and social violence and disintegration in many notable instances in Africa and other parts of the world.

The tactic is to ensure African countries with vast natural resources are in perpetual conflict so that foreigners can come in and exploit these resources while the natives concentrate on fighting.

The Central African Republic has been gripped by unrest since the beginning of last year when Seleka rebels took control of the landlocked country, toppling former President Francois Bozize. A Western power, France, has intervened in the Central African Republic’s crisis under the guise of a benevolent force, when in actual effect, according to some political commentators, Paris has the objective of regime change.

In a recent article for Press TV, political commentator, Finian Cunningham, wrote that the violence in the Central African Republic “has been deliberately provoked by the French as a cover for their real objective – regime change”. Cunningham argues that the Western media portray the French intervention as benevolent when “the reality is that violence and suffering have largely stemmed as a direct result of illegal French interference in that African country”. It is crucial to critically analyse the arguments of these analysts because the solution lies in African governments and their peoples stopping to do the bidding of the United States, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Africa must come up with its own solutions and discard the habit of being compelled by the will and wish of others.

Western countries, especially former colonial powers, still have strong influence in their former colonies. This is the reason why countries such as Zimbabwe, which have refused to be cowed into submission by its former colonial master Britain and its Western allies, are being made to suffer under illegal economic sanctions.

African countries and institutions must take note of this sad situation if they are to deal once and for all with conflict on the continent.

Will 2014 be any different?

January 2014
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