Former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings has accused certain African leaders of being compromised by the West, while at the same time praising others for standing by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
Rawlings was speaking last night at a dinner in his honour hosted by Prime Minister Hage Geingob. He is in Namibia to attend the birthday party of Namibian struggle hero Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo at the Independence Stadium tomorrow.
Speaking at the dinner, Rawlings said: “Our voice needs to be heard. And those of you who have retained your integrity owed it to the continent to even speak louder, a few too many of us have compromised ourselves.
“Some of you have been able to retain your integrity. Others are still fumbling. The voice of Africa is becoming a little too silent in a great cloudy international situation.”
He said the ongoing conflicts and unrest in Palestine and Ukraine is sign of “the hypocrisy of the West”.
“And we all remain silent about it. No. It is an embarrassment and when we refuse to say something at this level, it percolates downwards and it affects the national psyche where they do not see what is right or wrong about some of these situations anymore.”
He called on African leaders to do some self-examination and to tell the world how they feel about certain things.
Rawlings, who is known as a pan-Africanist, said he impressed by presidents in the SADC bloc who stood with Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe against the United States and United Kingdom.
“When the junior [George W] Bush invaded Iraq it took Nelson Mandela’s voice to block and keep them out. That is Bush and Tony Blair.”
Rawlings said a lot had been said about how much damage that did to the international sensibility, sense of morality and ethics.
“Blair and Bush thought this was a fine opportunity to throw the whip on Africa.”
He continued to say that this led to two former African heads of State, John Kufuor of Ghana and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, being sent to Mugabe to tell him to resign.
“Then the presidents in this region rallied and told them to get out. You don’t find that in many places,” Rawlings said.
“That is why I am saying that the political potency is there but it is not being felt. We need something to raise the quality of our political potency. Let us not allow it to go to waste.”
Rawlings said Africans must give meaning for the efforts, contributions and fighting for independence of liberation icons such as Nelson Mandela, Sam Nujoma and Ya Toivo.
Rawlings and his wife arrived in Namibia on Wednesday and his itinerary included a courtesy call on President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Nujoma yesterday
Today, he is expected to lay a wreath at the Heroes’ Acre and visit the Independence Memorial Museum before heading to a seminar organised by the Pan-African Centre of Namibia.
On Sunday, he will travel to Walvis Bay and will be received by Regional Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua.
His wife will visit the Namibian Diamond Trading Company and Meatco before the couple depart next week Tuesday.
Elvis Muraranganda: Namibian Sun