By: The Homeland News Agency/State House
The president of UgandaYoweri Museveni as said the success of businesses in Africa is important because it has a direct role in ending polarization and causing sustainable peace.
Accompanied by First Lady Janet, he made the remarks at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was part of a panel discussion themed Working Towards Peace.
Generally, the meeting has brought together over 1,000 leaders from government, business and civil society, including ten heads of state or government. Top of the agenda is new partnerships to create sustainable employment opportunities for Africa’s large and growing workforce.
The discussion at the Cape Town International Convention Centre was moderated by Borge Brende, the president of the World Economic Forum.
President Museveni noted that businesses were capable of transforming Africa from its current vertical pre-capitalist setting, which is pre-occupied by tribe and other identity issues, to a horizontal system dominated by interests.
“Thriving businesses cause social transformation which changes society. When you have a big middle class dominated by employers and employees, issues become different. Discussion now becomes about salaries, working hours, making them horizontal,” he said.
“Business therefore is part of durable peace-building. You cannot maintain a pre-capitalist structure of society and think that you will have peace.”
Citing the French Revolution and the Renaissance, Museveni said even the West had only transformed after it had dealt with the peasantry societies, replacing them with the middle class.
“You must have a middle class, it is more cosmopolitan than tribes, which are parochial. If you are herding goats, you only need one hill but if I am producing motorcycles, I need the whole of East Africa. Business will consolidate peace.”
Just and unjust wars
Earlier, asked by moderator Brende about what Africa could do to avoid conflicts in the future, President Museveni said it was first of all critical to understand the causes of the conflicts.
Africa, he said, had experienced both just and unjust wars and making the distinction in their discussion was paramount.
“Between 1952 and 1994, Africa mainly had just wars. We were fighting for independence and democracy. From the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in 1952 to the fight against minority rule in Southern Africa, these were just wars because Africans were dealing with situations not solvable by peaceful means.
The Ugandan leader said Africa today, however, was mainly dealing with “unjust wars caused by the ideological problem of emphasising identity (tribes, religion) instead of interests”.
find people fighting because they are Muslims or Christians or because of their
tribes. This is pseudo-ideology causing false polarisation,” Museveni
The modern person, according to him, is interested in prosperity and this is made possible by trade, which is rarely facilitated by tribe, which instead many times works as a hindrance.
“Wars therefore premised on identity must be condemned because they are ideologically bankrupt. They are criminal wars.”
President Museveni also observed that the conflicting groups must be challenged about their motives, saying that even if peace was to be obtained, it must be “principled” and not just because one warring party had been overwhelmed.
A case for women
The other panelists in the discussion were Sahlework Zewde, Ethiopia’s President, Smail Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Sipho Pityana, chairman of Anglo-Gold Ashanti and Susanna Moorehead, the chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Development.
President Zewde in her remarks made a case for involvement of women in peace-building, saying they bear the greatest brunt of conflict.
“Women should not just be victims, they should be part of the solution. We have seen that where women are involved at the table of conflict resolution, things move faster. We must continue making this happen,” she said.
The World Economic Forum on Africa, which runs till Friday, is being held under the general theme of “Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. President Museveni is among the dozen African leaders gracing the summit.
With elections taking place in more than 20 African countries this year, the continent is facing a new era, the meeting’s organisers say.
Significant political and economic progress has been made, but the continent continues to face challenges.
The forum in South Africa is focussing on how to scale up the transformation of regional architecture related to smart institutions, investment, integration, industry and innovation.
It is themed: Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The meeting is addressing the African Union’s Agenda 2063 regional strategic priorities under four programme tracks, which are:
• Innovation: Readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
• Cooperation: Sustainable Development & Environmental Stewardship
• Growth: Digitalization & Competitive Industries
• Stability: Leadership & Institutional Governance
The discussions are focussing on key industries and build on the launch of the first African Affiliate Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa, the organisers add.
(Source: State House)