28 March 2006

Africa: The World Has Become More Dangerous Since the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Lusaka — THE world has become more dangerous since the collapse of the Soviet Union, South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Dr Blade Nzimande has said.

During a dinner hosted in his honour by the Press Freedom Committee of The Post at Lusaka's Hotel Intercontinental on Monday, Dr Nzimande said when he met Zambia's information minister Vernon Mwaanga he was told that contrary to the saying that the end of the cold war following the fall of the Soviet Union would ensure a better world, it had become more dangerous.

"There are more people dying in Iraq right now than during the direct assault on the USA," he said.

Dr Nzimande said the latest document of the United States' national security was frightening.

"It says the US government is going to be the custodian of human development," Dr Nzimande said.

He said what that meant was that if a country did not follow the dictates of free trade model as espoused by the US, that country constituted a threat to American interests.

"That is a dangerous world we are in," Dr Nzimande said. "That is why we are inspired with developments in Latin America because human rationality always triumphs over human brutality." He said the rise of leftist governments in Latin America consolidated Cuba's lonely battle over the years.

Dr Nzimande called for continuous rising in solidarity in order to reclaim the values of national liberation movements. He said the SACP believed the biggest challenge facing Africa and the southern African region was to reclaim the values of national liberation struggle and national liberation movements.

Dr Nzimande said if truth was told, it would be realised that many of the values and visions of the liberation movements were rudely wiped by structural adjustment programme.

He said there was a hijacking of values that made leaders serve their people above self-interest.

Dr Nzimande said the national liberation struggle was about public service as a virtue and career.

"The original vision of the struggle movements, much as political emancipation was important, it was realised that without economic emancipation we would not serve our people," he said. "Our biggest single problem is poverty eradication and developing our economy to serve our people. That is the vision and value of the national liberation movements. We should not see this as a one-off thing." Dr Nzimande said much as the democratic governments of South Africa and Zambia had good relations with each other that was not enough.

"We should continue to strengthen people to people contact," he said.

Dr Nzimande said a situation where only governments maintained contacts, which he described as governmentalism of relations, was not conducive.

He said the Press Freedom Committee of The Post's initiative to bring him to Zambia was an invitation to contact and reconnect him with his Zambian brothers and sisters.

Dr Nzimande said what Dr Kaunda and Zambia did in the liberation of the region was one dimension of exemplary internationalism. "Our past is tied together therefore, our destiny is inseparable," said Dr Nzimande.

First republican president Dr Kenneth Kaunda said Africa had a long history of struggle.

"Struggle against slavery and as I have just said, struggle against colonialism, racial discrimination and apartheid," he said. "Although we have, with God's help overcome these injustices, we are still facing other daunting challenges. Challenges of poverty and underdevelopment, challenges of illiteracy and ignorance and indeed challenges of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

"These challenges demand that we do from time to time meet as people of this continent to exchange views on how we can move forward in peace and harmony in order to achieve economic and social prosperity for our people."

Dr Kaunda said the rise of leftist governments in Latin America was a very important subject for discussion for the people of Africa could draw some important lessons from what was taking place in that region.

He said Africans were the most forgiving and resilient. "In your country (South Africa) for instance, it cannot be forgotten that even during the darkest days of your struggle for change, your alliance exhibited an unmatched sense of responsibility and love for your fellow human beings," he said. "You were careful in your response to the acts of atrocities that were being meted out against you."

Dr Kaunda said South Africa was undergoing a revolution. He said the government had scored a lot of successes in improving the people's conditions and that under a revolutionary government, big improvements have been made in housing, water, electricity and economic empowerment.

"But there are still many challenges. It is important, at this challenging time for all those revolutionary forces that contributed to South Africa's freedom to join hands for the realisation of our common objective, to take that great nation to even greater heights," he said. "South Africa has not only taken its rightful position among the community of nations but it is showing the rest of the world that with political will and accommodation, it is possible even for a people with a bitter past to live in peace with each other.

These lessons need to be emulated in other areas of tension in our world." Dr Kaunda said the aspirations of the founding fathers of Africa was that with independence the people of Africa would be able to attain sustainable, economic and social development.

He said they wanted to achieve prosperity for the people of Africa under conditions of peace and justice.

Dr Kaunda said in keeping with that lofty objective South Africa was playing a major role in providing investment opportunities in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region and beyond. He said this would help to create wealth and jobs for the people.

"I am not talking about wealth for a few individuals because that is a recipe for chaos. I am talking about wealth for the people as a whole," he said. "I am talking about a fair distribution of wealth among the people."

Dr Kaunda said HIV/AIDS was the greatest challenge facing Africa. He said HIV/AIDS was not only a health problem but was to all intense and purposes also an economic challenge.

"Today, our nations are having to deal with millions of orphans who roam the streets day in day out. They have no opportunities for education and health facilities. They have no vocational training," Dr Kaunda said. "And their numbers are increasing everyday. This is a challenge to society as this situation has serious security and social implications. Therefore, there is need for urgent action to address this serious problem."

He said children were the most valuable resource. "They need our loving care and compassion in order to be nurtured into responsible adulthood," he said. "In this journey we need to exhibit the same sense of solidarity and unity of purpose as we did during the freedom struggle in order to defeat poverty, underdevelopment and diseases."

Dr Kaunda encouraged leaders at all levels to be actively involved in public awareness campaigns against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He emphasised the importance of abstinence as being the best form of protection against infection.

"All other methods may work out but they may not be 100 per cent full proof as abstinence," said Dr Kaunda.

"We must remember, however, that unless we are able to fight poverty, we may not be able to defeat HIV/AIDS. Let us do everything possible to mount an effective campaign against poverty and HIV/AIDS."

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