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23 Sep 2004 09:08
The brother of South African President Thabo Mbeki lashed out at Africa’s political elite on Wednesday, saying that its plundering of resources has “left the continent worse off than in colonial times”.
Moeletsi Mbeki, the deputy chairperson of the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) think-tank in Johannesburg, accused African leaders “of taking their country’s resources and stashing them in Swiss bank accounts”.
The average African is poorer [now] than during the age of colonialism,” Mbeki was quoted as saying in a report in the Durban-based The Mercury newspaper following a speech delivered on Tuesday.
In an interview with AFP, Mbeki said African political leaders and their cronies were busy fattening up their Swiss bank accounts to the detriment of those they claim to represent.
“These political elites—and I am talking about those in power today—are not only having bank accounts, they are buying assets offshore and mansions in South Africa,” he said.
He said that the “more the African political elites consolidate their power, the more they strengthen their hold over the state, the more peasants are likely to become poorer and the more African economies are likely to regress”.
Mbeki said he was not looking to his brother in power in South Africa since 1999 for approval for his views, adding: “It’s my job as a political analyst and I’m an independent thinker.”
Mbeki singled out three African countries where that type of kleptocracy was widespread: Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and notably, Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe, Mbeki said, provided a “textbook example of the co-relation between falling standards of living of the population in sub-Saharan Africa and the growing power of political elites”.
“These figures are not something that I am sucking from my thumb,” he added.
“They are figures provided by the Zimbabwean government themselves.”
Mbeki said the starting point to solve crisis in the southern African country, once referred to as the “Africa’s breadbasket”, would be the return to democracy.
Zimbabwe has been in the throes of political crisis since the 2000 elections which the opposition claim were rigged, and President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms in which thousands of white-owned farms were seized and handed over to blacks.
“You have to have proper democracy in Zimbabwe—that is the starting point to solving the problems there,” Mbeki said.
Thabo Mbeki has opted for quiet diplomacy to try to nudge Mugabe in the direction of change but his approach has failed to yield a breakthrough.
Another way of giving financial power back to the poorest of the poor on the continent was to allow farmers to have greater access to the international market instead of going through governments which creamed large portions of profits, Mbeki said. - Sapa-AFP
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