Campus Life

The Future Of Africa

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“Universities are a quiet place to reflect about what is happening in the world,” said professor Johann Hattingh, dean: Arts and Social Sciences, in his opening remarks to a panel discussion on Africa’s future.

The event, organised jointly by Student Parliament and the Stellenbosch Political Science Students Association (SPOSSA) was held on 14 August in a sparsely filled Endler Hall.

On the panel was Dave Steward, executive director and trustee: FW de Klerk Foundation; dr Mamphela Ramphele; Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and dr Horst Freitag, German Ambassador to South Africa. The discussion was facilitated by academic and author Sanusha Naidu.

Central to the discussion were the topics of growth, transformation and inequality in both Africa and South Africa.

Stuart initiated the discussion by giving an overview of the available data regarding Africa’s economic and socio-economic status.

Ramphele thereafter shifted the conversation to that of growth and transformation in South Africa.

She criticised the path South Africa had taken in this regard, particularly the growth in inequality between rich and poor since the end of Apartheid.

Ramphele further added that higher standards should be set for South Africans than the 30% required to pass a school subject, as is currently the case in the country.

Gordhan, who previously served as Minister of Finance, shed a more positive view on South Africa and its future. Gordhan called South Africa “the best example of a negotiated settlement”.

The Minister further said Africa does not need aid; all it needs to do is to better collect revenue from multi-national companies operating in Africa.

On his turn, Ambassador Freitag highlighted Africa’s growing inter­connectedness with the rest of the world. If there is conflict in Africa, it is felt in Europe, he said, pointing to continued migration of Africans from conflict to Europe where they seek refuge.

He also said that it should not be expected that development in Africa will be linear with no setbacks. “This will defy all laws of development,” he added.

Freitag further expressed his support for the notion that Africa should manage its own affairs.

The initial discussion was followed by two sets of five question from the floor. One student asked Ramphele whether she would not consider filling late professor Russel Botman’s post in light of previously holding the position of Chancellor at the University of Cape Town.

She declined and said someone younger and more energetic would be better suited for the position.

Freitag did not respond directly to a question from the first round on whether there is a trend for “the West” to place conditions on aid and development assistance to African countries guilty of infringing on human and civil rights.

Freitag responded by saying he “is getting rather annoyed by people using the term ‘West’”, and called for a more nuanced term to be used in light of a far more complex global order.

A limited number of students attended the event, with less than a quarter of the Endler Hall of the Conservatorium filled. Many students left after the first hour.

In response to a question on the perceived low student turn-out, Patrick Kadima, president: SPOSSA, told Die Matie: “[The turnout was low] due to the fact that most students in the university are not politically active, and that can be proven by the continuously dropping low turnout in the SRc elections in the past two or three years.”

“SR Stemtal Daal Weer”

 

By Gerard Swart, from Die Matie 27 August