African Agenda Stalled Says Frank Chikane

Frank Chikane at a recent book signing

Former director-general in South Africa’s Presidency Frank Chikane believes that the African agenda once spearheaded by former President Thabo Mbeki is losing momentum and the gains made are being reversed.
In a wide-raging interview about his book Eight Days in September: The Removal of Thabo Mbeki, Chikane said some of the events currently happening on the continent should not be taking place.

He said that though there was no specific leader to blame for the decline of Africa’s stature, the continent was slipping.

He said the involvement of Western countries in the change of government in Libya and Ivory Coast was a “tragedy … My lament is that we are slipping [down] the ladder, and Africa will really need to pull itself up by [its boot straps] and make sure that we regain our independence in terms of decision-making and capacity to determine our own destination rather than be forced by other people”.

Chikane’s comments were made as the role played by South Africa on the continent is being challenged.

South Africa, which voted in favour of UN Resolution 1973 on Libya, and President Jacob Zuma, came under fire from the ANC Youth League and some of the continent’s leaders questioned Zuma’s decision.

Yesterday, Chikane said that when Mbeki was in charge super powers wanted to climb all over Africa but were blocked.

He said the situation since Mbeki’s removal has changed

“I don’t want people to say I am biased and that Mbeki’s government was better than this government, but I can say to you that you will agree with me that the gains we made on the continent are being reversed.

“When the super powers wanted to climb all over Ivory Coast we blocked them.

“On Zimbabwe, they wanted to do a regime change but we told them ‘you may not like the man but you can’t make the decision, the Zimbabweans will decide’.

“We blocked them twice in the UN. But today they make decisions without any constraint,” Chikane said.

Though the book has been flying off the shelves, and is sold out in most book stores, Chikane has been criticised by some within the ANC.

Last week, he said Mbeki’s removal from office was tantamount to a coup

On Saturday, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize took pot shots at the book and said Chikane owed the ANC an apology.

He said his account was one-sided and was not a true reflection of what happened when Mbeki was “recalled”.

But yesterday Chikane said he was not prepared to enter into a debate with Mkhize but it was safe to say that the ANC knows where to find him if it wants to take issue with him.