Recently, this writer walked down Esselen Street in Sunnyside Pretoria, South Africa – an area inhabited largely by foreign African nationals (legal and illegal) and a hub for students, entertainment and crime. Along the street was a blind man sitting with his family and rattling a tin-can. After short observation, this writer heard the man speak in Shona – the predominant Zimbabwean vernacular. Evidently, the man has migrated to South Africa, and in most instances, the reasons for migration are: 1) Poor living conditions that generate the urge to migrate, 2) The population grows while economic development stagnates, 3) Violence and the abuse of power force people to flee, and 4) The rich industrialized states are becoming more accessible.
The wider Sunnyside area is filled with migrants from everywhere on the continent and beyond, which makes this writer wonder if the above-mentioned factors are evident everywhere in the Global South– a collective term for the economically underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, considered as an entity with common characteristics such as poverty, high birth-rates, and economic dependence on the advanced countries.
Or, could it be that these factors are induced, and even deliberately maintained in order to keep the Third World in a vulnerable and subservient position?
According to Aristotle, “a state’s purpose is not merely to provide a living but to make a life that is good.” However, statistics suggest that sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia are the hungriest, poorest and least-happy regions in the world. How then, could it be possible that the states in these regions are concurrently unable to provide their populations with good-living, and for what reasons?
According to the Oxford dictionary of Sociology, the dependency theory is a set of theories which maintain that the failure of Third World states to achieve adequate and sustainable levels of development results from their dependence on the advanced capitalist world. In other words, according to the dependency theory, the explanation for the economic (under)development of states in the Global South should be viewed in terms of the external, political, economic, and cultural influences on national development policies. It has often been argued, for example, that Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP’s) introduced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to much of Africa are the very reasons for the continent’s high levels of foreign debt.
Having said that, Third World states need to foster internal accountability and good governance. While Third World countries are documented as the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world, they are also reported to be the most corrupt. The Berlin-based organization: Transparency International reports that the most corrupt states in the world are for the most part located in the Global South, with Somalia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Iraq topping the list.
Furthermore, Third World leaders borrow too much from of the colonial rhetoric of yester-year. It is far too late in the evening to base prospective development policies on the political sloganeering of yesterday morning – the very reason Julius Malema’s nationalisation drive cannot work. What’s needed is a committed spirit of diligence that will see the Periphery through the night, and to a new dawn. The BRICS countries have set an example.
Understandably, the liberation histories of Africa and the rest of the developing world should not be forgotten. However, a blind beggar migrating with his family in search of greener pastures is a pitiful sight to say the least, and ultimately, it demonstrates that Third World states, when judged against Aristotle’s standard, have failed.
By Tau Tawengwa, Secretary General