Africa 'evolving in correct direction'

There is a strong level of understanding among African leaders on the need for stable democratic systems, President Thabo Mbeki said on Friday.

Addressing the closing session of the World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Cape Town, he said the continent is also moving away from a period of conflict.

Though there might be problems of capacity, there is a much clearer understanding among leaders of what they have to do.

“From the point of view of governance, one would see a continent that’s evolving in the correct direction,” he said.

One indicator of the change in the quality of leadership is Nigeria, where eight years ago then-president Sani Abacha had deceived Mbeki over the fate of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, hanged despite Mbeki’s intervention.

By contrast, he said, one of the first tasks of Nigeria’s newest president, Umaru Yar’Adua, has been to embark on a review of the electoral system.

Nigeria had been “bad” in Abacha’s time, but is now developing in a good, positive way.

Coca-Cola chairperson Neville Isdell, another speaker at the closing session, said he agreed that there has been change. This is underscored by the level of economic growth and investment in Africa.

One can identify where improvement is taking place by looking where investment is going.

There is also change at another level, in the growth of a middle class and a new educated elite, who have shaken off the shackles of the past and have a new view of Africa.

This in itself has begun engineering democratic change and also underpins it.—Sapa


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