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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
Van Rooyen suddenly withdraws his interdict

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By unknown | Jul 11, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

In the new-fangled world of computers and digital life, how can they lose your luggage on a flight from Johannesburg to London?

In the new-fangled world of computers and digital life, how can they lose your luggage on a flight from Johannesburg to London?

I don't think the world has gone potty and turned itself into the dystopian novel, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley.

But life has been transformed, affording people more leisure time, more time for fooling around, a chance to make fortunes out of nothing. It's not the perfect world yet, but that is what they are gunning for.

Yet when I arrived at Heathrow's Terminal 5 and found they had not brought my luggage on the 747 from Jo'burg, I was flabbergasted.

Like someone being chased by those terrorists hired by Zanu-PF before and during the March 29 "dehumanised" elections, I ran around the baggage collection area, searching for my bag - in vain.

It arrived four days later at Oxford University, after we had finished our workshops and were ready to leave those hallowed halls.

Meanwhile, I had to improvise and persuade people to buy me this and that.

It made me wonder if the richest nations of the world are on the right track: I had last lost my luggage on a flight from New Delhi to Lusaka in the 1970s. The feeling of déjà vu was thoroughly eerie.

For some reason, it made me ponder Africa's future in relation to the rest of the world. This is the poorest continent on the planet. Since 1957, it has not stumbled upon any sure-fire solution to its nemesis: poverty.

This is not to say the poverty is evenly spread. The word "obscene" comes to mind as an adjective to describe both conditions.

Reliance on the rich nations to help bridge this gap might not be misplaced, but is certainly tinged with an element of Utopian optimism.

A few years ago, at Gleneagles in Scotland, the Group of 8 (G8) undertook to help the continent with $25billion, but could only dole out $3billion.

This week, they were meeting again, in Hokkaido, Japan, the second most powerful economy, after the United States. They made positive noises, understandably scoffed at by most Africans.

We all need help - rich and poor. Yet for Africa, the hugest impediment is credibility. This relates, almost exclusively, to the continent's leadership.

There is no common ground on this thesis: there are some who say African leaders must always be given the benefit of the doubt.

If some of them insist that Robert Gabriel Mugabe is not potty and is not entirely to blame for Zimbabwe's parlous state, they almost always demand that everyone else rally behind the 84-year-old Gushungo and his crowd.

What is so tragic is that these African leaders refuse to accept that among their lot, there is not one willing to accept that they are not perfect, particularly in relation to the West. They stick to the old "religion" - that the former colonialists, having committed the Original Sin of colonialism, have no moral right to chastise African leaders for their terrible errors after winning independence.

In fact, one could go so far as to say that they will not stand for any rebuke from anyone, including their own people.

In Zimbabwe, when the people rebuked Mugabe and Zanu-PF in the March 29 elections, the response, which turned into retribution, was swift and savage.

There can be no reward for that - unless the West has indeed gone potty and decided to reward a Hitler clone.

lBill Saidi is deputy editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe.


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