The Open Society Foundations and Africa

The Open Society Foundations and Africa

This continent is changed out of all recognition
from what it was in the early ’80s and was confronted by a series of repressive governments
with no democracy, no freedom of speech. There’s so much hope for the continent.
In spite of the paradox: it’s a rich continent with a lot of poor people. But there’s so
much going for it. It’s got a youthful population. Stability by and large has returned. Economic
growth consistently high. Poverty has also declined over the years. God blessed us with natural endowment. I am
very hopeful about the future of Africa. Global trends prevail on Africa. The developing
world is in fact coming up. It’s only the beginning; it’s not the end of the struggle. The current Ebola crisis in West Africa has
been very challenging and very difficult. What Ebola has done is to expose the severe
governance challenges that exist within all facets of our society. The tragedy of Africa is that of misplaced
priorities. We are sitting in Ghana today— it is the number two producer of cocoa, and yet
ask an average Ghanaian whether they can afford a bar of chocolate. They will not be able
to. So me standing in the line on the election day in this merciless Ghanaian sun, there
hasn’t been a logical link between that—my citizenship act and my life. The
bane of our problem is corruption: massive, widespread corruption. Zambia is very rich, and there’s no reason
why a Zambian should go without a meal. If you look at the way the contracts are signed,
it does not benefit Zambians. Natural resources belong to the people who
live in the c ountry where the resources are located. They are expropriated and misused
to the benefit of the people coming in to mine them. In South Africa right now community members
are still talking about going to relieve themselves in a bush because there isn’t proper, safe
sanitation. They get raped when they go to the toilet. They get attacked. So yeah, it’s a grim situation. Something is going on. Slowly you had this
consciousness of the people, that they have to control the people to whom they are giving
the power. Even in situations where governments are brutal,
do not respect human rights, how many of your own people can you lock up every day and keep
your legitimacy? So when civil society comes together, begins to organize and put pressure
on the governments to do what is right, it makes a difference. Our civil societies are very strong about
the exercise of their rights. And they know how to claim it. By networking among themselves,
by demanding it of their governments through the media. And if it comes to that, they claim
it through the justice system. Transparency for me really entails having
the courage to challenge those that exercise power, and to use it for the benefit of the
common good, saying, “I’ve got rights, but I also have the responsibility to ensure
that those rights are fulfilled.” Social auditing is a tool that any community,
but particularly working class communities, can hold government accountable, can hold
the private sector accountable, to ensure that services are delivered. We are going to make citizens very, very powerful.
The woman who is living in the village, if we can give that woman that power to track
the funds that are made available for the clinic in her village, that’s a concrete
connection between the process that we are trying to influence and the lived experience
of the citizens. There is a great sense of accountability from
almost all the mining companies, particularly the companies that we have taken to court.
Communities are now aware of their rights, and a lot of them can confidently sit with
mining companies and negotiate compensation. The results of the social auditing in Khayelitsha
in Cape Town, there was an immediate change in the material conditions of people in that
community, you can actually effect small changes, which over time can lead to a more transformed
society. There has been cases in Uganda and Kenya,
where people have abused by police or their houses raided, and the courts said people
irrespective of their sexual orientation are entitled to dignity, they’re entitled to freedom from
cruel and inhuman treatment. So even in countries like Uganda you’ve had positive judgments. All throughout West Africa you’ve seen civil
society step up; they have been much strengthened by this epidemic. Part of what we have done
is to call on our governments to take a very serious look at public health service delivery
in our respective countries. If we manage those resources better, we think that we can
prevent Ebola from reoccurring again in the sub-region. It may not be in a year. It may
not be in two years. But definitely these are challenges that will be overcome. The future of Africa is for us to realize
ourselves. And then determine for ourselves what we think of when we think of development. Democracy is not an event. Democracy is a
process. And you don’t achieve that in a day. No amount of money pays for the satisfaction
of seeing somebody who has spent 21 years in prison for a crime they did not commit,
coming out. There’s no amount of money that pays for the establishment of an African Court
on Human and People’s Rights, because you know that the gains from these things are
going to outlast any one of us. One of the things that constantly gives me
hope is the resilience of the ordinary African man, the ordinary African woman. With the
younger generation there’s a greater sense that they belong to one common Africa. There’s
a generation that wants to see Africa move forward and is working very hard to ensure
that the image of Africa is changed.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

12 thoughts on “The Open Society Foundations and Africa

  1. I subbed long ago hoping for something substantial. But someone keeps milking George and keeps churning this useless, "promotional" crap.

  2. You will die one day George. And you will answer to God for what you did to every race and every person. Even your own people. When you did iniquity you you did not think about these things yet you knew you must die one day. Love from South Africa.

  3. "give €30 billion to Africa annually for several years to curb the flow of migrants" – Soros. Are you crazy?

  4. A demented old man wanting fund crazy left wing ideology, even though he’s a natzi convert, wonder what his game is

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