Kenyan Professor, Patrick Otieno Lumumba, says corruption is the biggest challenge to growth of the continent. Lumumba was addressing hundreds of people at the 5th annual Onkgopotse Tiro memorial Lecture at the University of Limpopo.
In memory of Onkgopotse Tiro – a struggle icon who was killed by apartheid police in Botswana in 1974 – the Kenyan academic told the audience who packed the hall named after the struggle icon at the University of Limpopo, of Tiro’s legacy.
Lumumba said Tiro would ask pertinent questions that leaders in Africa would have to be responsible for answering. He says Africa continues to be exploited for its mineral wealth.
“Is it possible that we are betraying Tiro Abram by doing things that we ought not to do, is it possible that we are giving away our resources for which Tiro died at age 29 is it possible that we are welcoming visitors in our country whose only desire is to devour us.”
He believes South Africa remains one of the continent’s strongest economies. However, corruption in some countries has slowed growth. Lumumba says the economy is still not structured in a way to benefit the majority.
“He would pose to you South Africans do you have a fair deal, he would pose do the men and women working in your factories are they treated fairly we know you have made some strides but is that the best you can do Tiro would ask do you have a fair deal, if Tiro today was to arise and he would go to Zimbabwe he would ask to Robert Gabriel Mugabe do your people have a fair Tiro would ask.”
He says South Africa should have given former President Thabo Mbeki more time to lead.
“What lacks in Africa currently is distinguished politicians who are above South Africa. Nelson Mandela occupied that position but he ruled and governed for shorter time. He came in when it was too late and left too early.
“Therefore, Thabo Mbeki was beginning to have that stature and South Africans will not agree. Let me tell you South Africans, some day when history is written and written properly you will apologise.”
On the recent Kenyan elections, Lumumba believes the cancellation of the results must not be celebrated without questioning the reasons behind why they might have been rigged. He says rigging is also indicative of corruption.
“But there is a curiosity about that judgement which is being celebrated, because Africans are celebrating that for the first time an election has been nullified. That is not a cause for celebration, nullified on what ground is the thing to celebrate.”
Lumumbu also applauded Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for plans he announced in parliament recently for government to create jobs.
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– By Katlego Nyoni and Mike Maringa