LET US FORM A `UNION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA’ [USA AFRICA]
PROFESSOR HERBERT VILAKAZI*
The people of Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, and Namibia, should form a `Union of Southern Africa’. The present territorial boundaries are artificial, having been arbitrarily drawn by European colonialists guided only by European interests and motives.
The formation of this Union should be in stages; the first stage is the formation of an Economic Union, embodied in a Central Economic Council for Southern Africa.
This economic Union should go much further than the mere formation of a `single trade area’; indeed, much further than NEPAD: this Central Economic Council for Southern Africa should be the decisive arm and brain in formulating Planning and Investment Policies for the entire Union.
The formation of this `Union’ shall be in stages also in the sense that not all the currently existing States may agree to merge at the same time, even at the economic level: the `Union’ may begin, perhaps, with the agreement of 2 or 3, perhaps 4, Nation-States; others may follow later, as happened with the European Common Market, and, later, the European Union.
The failure of development and psychological-mental illnesses are on such a large scale now that African societies are facing a catastrophe similar to a war-situation or a war-threat. A serious war-threat, or a war-situation, such as that faced by Britain in 1940, requires centralized decision-making, centralized Planning, and mobilization of resources.
Leon Trotsky warned, in his criticism of Stalinist Planning, that centralized management of the economy implies not only great advantages but also the “danger of centralizing the mistakes”. Rational Planning requires the inclusion of democratic discussion, democratic control, and a critical spirit, within the centralization and planning process.
Capitalism gave rise to economic processes that tend to cross all territorial boundaries in the world, as well as to cultural process that cross all boundaries; capitalism also generated the modern desires for equality and freedom. The positive features of capitalism became intertwined with its negative features. Both the positive features and negative features of capitalism call for cooperation and Planning among Nation-States. The dangers of war and destruction, alone, call for cooperation and Planning among nations.
Integration of Nation-States at the regional level, and across the territorial boundaries of the globe, is a universal inner urge and tendency of our time. This universal urge and tendency must be knit together and guided by justice and equality for all communities. The integration of economic and science activities is occurring informally across Nation-States; what needs to occur now is the formalization of this integration at the political level. These tendencies, and this urge, are also manifesting themselves in Southern Africa.
We need a Single Investment Plan for entire Southern Africa. The overall Planning for the development of Southern Africa, and the Investment decisions, should be made by the Central Economic Council for Southern Africa. This Planning and Investment Council should be composed of representatives, in equal number, of all Nation-States comprising the Union. The Planning and Development Fund in the hands of this Council should aim to accomplish the following:
1. To plan and develop the infrastructure for entire Southern Africa: the solution of the water problem in the region; electrification and alternative sources of power; telecommunication; roads; railways; airports; harbours;
2. Develop the infrastructure for Education; Health; and Environmental care.
3. The most important challenge facing the Central Economic Council for Southern Africa should be the Initiation of the Agricultural Revolution in the region. The aim, here, is to develop Agriculture to be an economic asset of the first order, as a foundation for the development of the region and the African continent. The World Bank has made the following statement: “Africa’s farmers and agribusiness could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high value nutritious foods” (World Bank, “Growing Africa –Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness”, 2013). Non-chemical based agriculture shall have an enormous impact on the health of human beings consuming that food. The first medicine the human body gets is food. Non-chemical based agriculture shall considerably lower the medical expenses of government.
An overall aim of this strategy is to bring about balanced, rational, just development in the entire region, bringing about economic-social equality between the different parts of Southern Africa.
To stop millions of people from poorer regions of Southern Africa flocking to South African urban areas for jobs and better living conditions, the Council should plan, encourage, and direct investments to less developed parts of the region.
There are sound, compelling economic reasons for the formation of this Central Economic Council for Southern Africa. The economic problems of each of these Nation-States shall be solved much better and effectively, if these Nation-States become a single economic union guided by a rational overall Plan.
There are also sound and compelling historical and cultural reasons which justify the formation of a `Union’ composed of the current Southern African States. The people comprising these Southern African States are historically and culturally ONE people. They can be said to be members of one historical family, which was artificially split by the European Colonialists. A few examples: the people called BaTswana stretch all the way from what today is called Botswana to Pretoria –but the European colonialists drew an arbitrary line separating the BaTswana in Botswana from the BaTswana of South Africa; the people called the Swazi stretch from the country called Swaziland to Mpumalanga and Johannesburg –but European colonialists drew an arbitrary line separating the Swazi of Swaziland from the Swazi of South Africa ; the people called BaSotho stretch from the country called Lesotho to the South African Province called Free State –but European colonialists drew an arbitrary line separating the BaSotho of Lesotho from the Basotho of South Africa. The same applies to the formation of a country called Mozambique, as well as to the drawing of the boundaries separating present-day Zimbabwe from South Africa.
It is important to stress that there was a constant movement of people from one area of Africa to another. Today we move as individuals, or as individual families; in the pre-capitalist, pre-colonial era, we moved as communities. We know, for example, of the movements of communities of people from what today is KwaZulu/Natal, which spread to different regions of Southern Africa, stretching all the way to the Congo and East Africa: we know of communities led by Soshangane, who established a Kingdom in what today is Mozambique; of communities led by Mzilikazi, who settled consecutively in what is now Gauteng, the North West, and later Zimbabwe; we know of communities led by Zwangendaba, who moved up to what now is Malawi and parts of Zambia and Tanzania; we know of Shemane, King Zwide’s son, who moved with his community to what today is Limpopo. In sum, these communities were mixtures of Nguni, Sotho, Shona, Tswana, Venda, Pedi, and other cultures. All these peoples were one family. Language is, among other things, a very significant piece of evidence in community genealogy.
The study of languages spoken by people in Southern Africa shows that these people are originally One family. For example, linguists who have studied the structure of Nguni and Sotho languages have concluded that the Nguni language is the skeleton of Sotho languages; through separation of groups, migrations, and interface with differing environments and activities, different flesh and accents emerged: “If genetic relationship among a number of languages can be demonstrated, it constitutes prima facie evidence that the ancestors of the speakers of those languages shared a common location at some time in the past” (Reconstructing African Culture History, edited by C. Gabel and N. R. Bennett, 1967, p. 31).
Capitalism, the African Slave Trade, imperialism, colonialism, and racism, were like an enormous world-wide landslide that radically reshaped the structure and process of the human mind and consciousness throughout the world: a new measuring rod of human beings emerged, which placed Europeans as the top and best, and Africans as the catastrophic bottom and worst, with the rest of humankind falling in-between.
During the first decade or two of the 20th century, European colonialists began to carve and create new White-ruled nations in Southern Africa: it was during the same period that Pan-Africanism was born, that the Bambatha War occurred, and the ANC was formed.
The ANC was originally formed as a Pan-Africanist Movement for the emancipation of all Africans from European domination.
The first Constitution of the ANC, adopted in 1918, takes it for granted that the peoples of what today is Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, are constituencies of the new organization. In her history of the ANC, Mary Benson wrote as follows:
“Early in January 1912, from the kraals in the Highveld and lowveld of the Transvaal, from Zulu villages, from the beautiful bare uplands of the Transkei, from the arid expanses of Bechuanaland and the royal capital of Swaziland, from the Paramount Chief’s fastness in the mountains of Basutoland, came chiefs and their followers…Among them were the chiefs from the neighbouring High Commission Territories: Prince Malunga Ka-Mbandeni, Regent of Swaziland, just back from England; Chief Maama, descendant of Moshoeshoe the Great, representing the Paramount Chief of Basutoland; and Chiefs Molema, Montsioa and Mankwane from Bechuanaland.” (Benson, Mary, The African Patriots:The Story of the African National Congress of South Africa, pp. 26-27)
The founders of this organization were very clear about the fact that they were forming a “Pan African association”: Mary Benson continues:
“The conference resolved to `unite together and form a federation of one Pan African association.’” (p. 28)
It must be emphasized that this `Pan African association’ would form a Union with a single Parliament, of which what today are Lesotho, Botswana, and Swaziland would be constituent parts. Ms. Benson continues:
“The conference accepted Seme’s recommendation that the Congress should be modelled on the American Congress and it was also decided to combine British parliamentary structure and procedures in an Upper House of Chiefs and a Lower House of Commoners, each with a President. The Paramount Chief of the Basuto, Letsie ll, was unanimously elected Honorary Governor, leader of the Upper House in which `Princes of African blood’ were to hold their seats for life.” (p. 28)
This was, indeed, a Pan-African agenda: Dr. Seme travelled the entire Southern Africa, mobilizing support for the ANC; that is the reason Nkosi Sikelela IAfrika became the anthem for the entire region. The Kings and Queens of Africa were the god-parents of the ANC. Perhaps no people in Southern Africa made a greater contribution to the establishment of the ANC, during the early years, than the Swazi. Through Prince Sobhuza’s grandmother, Queen Labotsibeni, the Swazi Royal Kingdom made a tremendous financial contribution for the upkeep of the ANC; Dr. Seme and Patrick Vilakazi re-located to Swaziland, as advisors to the Royal Leadership, and acted also as tutors to the young Prince, so that he could be raised in the tradition of the ANC.
As the new White Nation-State called South Africa became stabilized, consolidated, and triumphant, the agenda of the ANC was formulated in reaction to the policies of the White Nation-State: there began to take place the southafricanization of the ANC.
European capitalism in Southern Africa did not clip its wings to fit within the White Nation-State. Cecil Rhodes and Anglo-American used semi-slave labour of Africans from entire Southern Africa to lay the foundation of South African industrialization. It was the forced labour-power of entire Southern Africa which created modern South Africa. Cecil Rhodes, Gold and Coal mining knit the entire Southern Africa into ONE economy, with its metropolis being the White-controlled cities and towns of the new country called South Africa.
I am emphatically NOT proposing that Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, and the other existing States should be made part of existing South Africa; I am proposing that we form a new Union altogether, comprising all the existing nations of Southern Africa, beginning first with a Central Economic Council, which shall make Investment and Planning decisions for entire Southern Africa, which later-on can result in political unification.
With the wealth of all Southern Africa put together, this Union shall be more powerful and decisive in the world economy that BRICS.