Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Africa Needs to Sign a New Social Contract

Jean Russeau wrote in Social Contract, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” To free himself, Russeau suggests that man must gain security and measure of freedom from action in exchange for surrender of rights and property to the general will. This is not the language of compliance or cowardice but of rebellion.

It is no exaggeration to assert that Africa, politically, socially and economically is in the 14th century. Many African countries are sitting on the vast resources which are abused by a cabal of people in power. While this is happening, the big population is dying in abject destitution.

When philosophers Thomas Donaldson and Thomas W. Dunfee coined a phrase, “Intergrated Social Contract Theory” (ISCT), they stated categorically that every right an individual enjoys also has corresponding duty. In business, this is sharing risk and reward. Whenever there is a risk, change, calamity or needs, the corporate as a big entity benefiting more from the business must help employees - who also benefit from the business but at a less magnitude comparably - in this period of transition.

Running a country is like running a corporation. The difference though is that the corporation employs a person because he/she has some qualities or qualifications the corporation needs to use to make profit and sustain it. When it comes to be a citizen in the corporate known as a state, the citizen qualifies by the right of birth or application for those who apply for citizenship of other countries. When it comes to men and women manning Africa, they enjoy rights of spending poor taxpayers’ money as they deem fit without the corresponding duty of delivering service.

The corporate-government is duty bound to deliver so as to enjoy the right of being a government. This is where the situation in African countries worsens more than even under colonialism in 1960s. If anything, Africa needs a jumping-off point from the 14th century style of management next to Caesars’, to the 21st century of responsible presidents or managers of the corporation known as state. It is high time for Africa to have responsible and accountable leadership championed by our academics.

We need advocates of a new social contract who can decisively interpret and champion ISCT. This will be possible if our academics will stand and take on dirty regimes instead of joining them to plunder the hoi polloi as it currently is in many countries. It is no longer shocking to see African ignorant rulers using academics in their governments to destroy their country as it once happened in the Gambia where President Yahya Jammeh used the minister of health who is a doctor professionally to claim he had discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS. Under the new social contract, this wouldn’t be possible given that presidents would be accountable for their word and deed.

Our rulers are prone and proud of being referred to as Excellencies and other fake homilies. They live in the heaven amidst the hell of miseries of their people. Who is wrong hither between them and the citizens who are in bed with such obnoxious and notorious vices?

Gandhi once remarked, “How can men feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow-beings?” In the same book by Louis Fischer: Gandhi: His Life and the Message to the World seems to have the answer. He wrote, “Some men loom larger by lifting up others and some by kicking and humiliating others.” If anything, this is the real situation between Africa and the developed world. How can for instance, DRC produce tonnes and tonnes of minerals and Nigeria oil alongside with tonnes and tonnes of poor people? The West, despite having fewer resources, was able to attain their development, among others, thanks to signing and ratifying a new social contract that empowers people and their governments. It through accountability of everybody that made western countries be ahead of us for everything.

Africa cannot forge ahead with the current mediocrity whereby academics are abused without resisting. Our academics should enlighten the hoi polloi so that they can take on their irresponsible rulers. This must be the war between hoity toity and hoi polloi spearheaded by academics. It does not make sense to see our rulers abuse our tax and donor monies while academics scramble to join politics so as to share the loot. Why are our rulers spending our hard-earned taxes on travelling abroad and recruiting private armies while we are dying wantonly? This is the question our academics need to ask and give the answer instead of being in bed with those who arrest the future of our continent and her innocent people.

For Africa to move forward, a new social contract that holds our ruler accountable and responsible for whatever they say and do must be signed. We can draw a lesson from academics such as Martin Luther, Conrad Grebel, Bathsar Hubmaier, Thomas Muetzer, Ulrich Zwingli and others who gave the Roman Church hard time so as to change the world despite being young guys. We need to start asking our rulers what have they have done for us as agreed in elections or constitutions.

We need to start enjoying the fruits of our freedom that turned out to be enjoyed by rulers and their henchmen. Academics must pull Africa from the 14th Century to 21st Century by advocating the signing of a new social contract that makes our rulers accountable.

Source: The African Executive Magazine Feb. 29, 2012.

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