These are trying times for African socialists. Gone is the once-confident offensive against “the capitalist system” and “Western imperialism.” Three decades of African independence have left the continent’s socialist states in great, great trouble, politically, economically, socially.
Although this has seemingly escaped Washington and Westminster, more and more African leaders today accept that it is not SA which has raped the economies of once-prosperous countries, but African socialists who promised prosperity while feathering their own nests.
Economic and political sanity is beginning to return to Africa [to a few parts of it at any rate. – Ed.]. Although many of the reforms remain as yet on paper only, we are now in Round Two of what British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan termed The Winds of Change. Major reconstruction is taking place, the length and breadth of Africa.
The continent is beginning to debate both the free market and the multi-party system, both rejected by the overwhelming majority of African states at independence in the Fifties and Sixties. The message that market-based economies work better is being widely accepted almost everywhere. What is wanted, in the words of Olaru A Otunnu, former Foreign Minister of Uganda, is no longer “people’s democracy” or “guided democracy” but “plain democracy without frills.”
A new generation of African leaders (and many of the old) is aware of the new East European maxim that “the third way (between communism and capitalism) leads only to the Third World.” And they want out of it. Let’s look at Africa, 1990: