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There are those who would argue that there is no correlation between security and development. Let me state categorically that after the protracted war of destabilisation in Mozambique, we had a very clear appreciation of the place of peace and security in development. The killings, abductions and displacement of people have torn apart the social tissue of the country.
Besides killing a million people, it placed a lot of pressure on the economy and reduced the capacity of the government to effectively address the basic needs of the people.
There were 1.7 million refugees in neighbouring countries and 4.5 million internally displaced.
The destruction amounted to R65 billion. The cost of post-conflict reconstruction was extremely high.
The concept of security should be redefined to encompass not merely the security of the state but the security of its people. Security goes beyond the threat of violence.
It includes economic and social concerns such as welfare, access to land, employment, education, health and equitable distribution of national wealth.
The definition should also encompass human rights, good governance and ensuring that each individual has opportunities and choices to fulfil his or her own potential.
Every step in this direction is also a step towards reducing poverty, achieving economic growth and preventing conflict.
From the experiences of the Arab Spring which started in 2010, and the ongoing events in Ivory Coast, Mali, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau and Syria, it is clear that to avoid the recurrence of conflicts and to prepare for sustainable development, governments are increasingly required to demonstrate their commitment to democratic governance, transparency, accountability, poverty reduction and equal distribution of their nations’ wealth with a view to avoiding the marginalisation of some sections of society. It is also necessary for development policies to emphasise the need for investing in people, increasing competitiveness and diversification, improving aid effectiveness and reducing Africa’s dependence on aid.
It is encouraging to note that the World Bank has recently indicated that the economy of sub-Saharan Africa grew faster than Brazil’s and India’s during the first decade of this century and will continue its performance for some time to come.
Given the need for fiscal retrenchment in the industrial countries of the world, African countries can benefit from the rebalancing of economies and serve as a new source of global demand, according to the World Bank.
It asserts that many African countries have made important economic reforms, improving their macroeconomic management, liberalising markets and trade and widening the space for private sector activities.
Another positive sign for Africa’s hope for security and development in the 21st century is that several African countries tend to be listed among the world’s frontier emerging markets.
There is general agreement that Africa will continue to profit from rising global demand for oil, natural gas, minerals, food and other natural resources.
A report by the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that Africa’s growth acceleration resulted from more than a resource boom – it was also the result of government action to end political conflicts, improve macroeconomic conditions and create a better business climate which enabled growth to accelerate broadly across countries and sectors.
I share the view that Africa’s economies grew healthier as governments lowered their inflation, trimmed their foreign debt and shrank their budget deficit. African governments adopted policies to energise markets.
They privatised state-owned companies, reduced trade barriers, cut corporate taxes and strengthened regulatory and legal frameworks.
These actions also created a better investment climate in Africa.
Significant progress has been made in addressing the security concerns of the continent and in creating a secure and stable environment for social and economic development.
There has been a better appreciation of the nexus between security and development.
This is essentially because the costs and consequences of violence, conflict and insecurity on development outcomes have become apparent.
At the same time, African leaders have put in place mechanisms and measures to address the scourge of conflicts and to mitigate their devastating effects on countries’ economies and infrastructure.
Africa has developed a better understanding of the correlation between low levels of economic development and the propensity for conflict.
There is no doubt that poor economic performance and social disparities often become major sources of conflict.
In most cases, the countries that are at the bottom of the human development index also tend to be those countries that face persistent violence, conflict and human security challenges.
Poverty is the major source of insecurity in Africa. It is for this reason that Africa must deploy greater efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
There is therefore an imperative to ensure that development policies are also designed to address basic human security issues.
Africa has already adopted specific mechanisms and measures to advance the cause of larger freedom – by ensuring freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity.
There is a greater realisation on the continent that in an increasingly interconnected world, progress in the areas of development, security and human rights must go hand in hand.
The economic statistics provide encouragement for Africa’s hope for security and development. However, it is imperative to consolidate democracy and to promote popular participation in development.
- Chissano, a former president of Mozambique, is chairman of the Africa Forum. Stellenbosch University conferred an honorary doctorate on him this week in recognition of his “democratic statesmanship”