3 May 2006
A report compiled by the US Foreign Policy magazine and The Fund For Peace and released May 2 has indicted many African states for not being viable. Of the 146 states examined, three African countries Sudan, Congo DR and Ivory Coast top the list of failed states in that order. Zimbabwe (5th), Chad and Somalia (6th) closely follow Iraq on the 4th position.
A failing State is described as one in which the government is not effectively controlling its territory, is not perceived to be legitimate by a significant portion of its population, dose not provide internal security or basic services to its citizens and lacks the ability to control armed groups or individuals within its territory.
Each nation surveyed was scored based on 12 criteria namely; mounting demographic pressures, massive movement of refugees and internally displaced persons, legacy of vengeance, chronic and sustained human flight, uneven economic development along group lines, dramatic or severe economic decline, criminalisation and delegitimisation of the state, deterioration of public services, human rights violation, impunity of security operatives, division within the ranks of elites and foreign intervention to help a failing state.
The top ranks of the list of failed states looks like a parade of African countries on a dishonour roll. Guinea and Liberia (11th), Central African Republic (13th), Burundi (15th), Sierra Leone (16th), Uganda (21st) Nigeria (22nd), Rwanda (24th), Ethiopia (26th), Malawi (29th), Burkina Faso(30th), Egypt (31st), Kenya (33rd) Cameroon (36th) Angola and Togo (37th), Mauritania (41st) and Niger (44th).
It is generally accepted that Africa’s history and her abundant natural resources have contributed substantially to this state of affairs. Many ‘resource-rich’ African countries also suffer from internal contradictions fueled by tribal and religious differences that can easily be exploited by mischief-makers.
At independence in 1960, Congo DR for example, was one of the riches nations on earth by virtue of the size and variety of her natural resources. These resources attracted the attention of ‘foreign predators’ including such powerful nations like the US, France, Belgium and a host of others. The three powerful countries conspired to subvert the elected and patriotic government of Patrice Lumumba, claiming that they were fighting ‘communist expansion’ on the African continent. Lumumba was assassinated and replaced by Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu did not only act like an ‘estate manager’ for his foreign masters but personally participated in one of the biggest looting of one’s own fatherland in history. For 32 years Mobutu ruled with an iron fist, impoverished his compatriots and thwarted Congo’s bright future forever. Today the country (fondly called ‘Looters paradise) is left with angry, frustrated, poor and hopeless people fighting each other and also fighting their way collectively to the top of failed states.
Sudan that tops the list of failed states has always been in the news for over two decades because of her endless civil wars. The Muslim dominated and Arab-led government in Khartoum is either fighting the Christian/Animist people of the South or fighting the fellow Muslims but racially different citizens of the western region of Darfur. Ivory Coast that a few years ago was seen as West Africa’s best hope has now shot up to the top of failed states because politicians wanted to exploit religious and regional differences within the country to rise to power. Today the country is virtually divided into two by warring factions.
Many African countries are poorly governed nations with weak institutions. There is a shortage of qualified professionals to manage their vast resources and shape their economies as the continents brightest brains have migrated to Western Europe and the US. Recruitment into the public service in many African countries is usually fraught with favouritism and other considerations that have nothing to do with competence. The result is what we see today-bad governance, corruption and other ills that adversely affect the viability of modern states.
Njei Moses Timah