Economic Justice in Africa: Adjustment and Sustainable Development

By George W. Shepherd; Karamo N. M. Sonko | Go to book overview

of the SAP, given the inevitable relationship between the economic and political factors in the process of societal adjustment and transformation.

From a human rights perspective, therefore, the call must be made for these external agencies to fulfill their responsibility in sustaining basic rights by making political conditionality an equal part of the SAP package. Giving the political dimension an equal consideration would achieve a dual purpose: It would result in better economic performance with participation as well as encourage the emergence of democratic societies with political and cultural rights.

This approach is the more appropriate at this time, when the initiative for democratization has local roots in Africa. As the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Africa has argued, any external role should be that of a "facilitator," 24 and only where democratization has the backing of the popular masses. In this sense, the old practice of external actors patronizing dictators and compromising popular movements would not be accepted and would only prolong the inevitable political struggles. On this note, there should be concern over the role anticipated by right-wing institutions and groups in the advanced countries attempting to impose their ideological directions on Africa's future through control of resources. 25 Such moves might not necessarily be what the African peoples want for themselves. Besides, the African masses must be allowed to design and construct their own development strategies and processes. This is the only way that Africans would gain from their experience in political participation, and it is only thereafter that any willing external actors can assist as facilitators.


NOTES
1.
Exceptions can be noted of some donor countries such as France, Britain, and the United States that have periodically demanded political changes as conditions for aid.
2.
George Shepherd, "The African Right to Development," Africa Today 37, no. 4 ( 1990): 9.
3.
Carol C. Gould, Rethinking Democracy Freedom and Social Cooperation in Politics, Economy and Society ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 84.
4.
For instance, the adoption of universal suffrage should allow all adults, including women, to vote. Currently most societies, especially the Islamic ones, do not have this provision even though there are electoral politics.
5.
These problems are analyzed within East-Central European experiences by Elizabeth Kiss , "Democracies without Parties? Civil Society in East-Central Europe," Dissent, Spring, 1992: 226-231.
6.
"Cover Story," New African, June 1991, p. 13; and Africa Forum 1, no. 2 ( 1991): 8-12.
7.
Toby Shelley, "Answers to Solutions," West Africa, July 17-23, 1989, p. 1161.
8.
Reported at the April 1989 conference of the European Center for Development Policy Management on "The Interaction between SAP and Food Security." For details see West Africa, May 29-June 4, 1989, p. 872.
9.
See Trade and Development Report, 1989 ( Geneva: UNCTAD, 1989).
10.
Keith Somerville, "Africa Moves towards Party Pluralism," The World Today, August/September 1991, p. 154.

-153-

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