Forget state capture-think Africa capture: Why it is that six decades after our independence, African countries are still depending on foreigners to fund and construct some of our most important institutions? What pay-off do they get?

Author:Muzawazi, Kwame

As you read this, South Africa is running a very long, expensive and expansive investigation called the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture. It is meant to reveal whether and how a small group of influential private business people worked with government officials for corrupt and fraudulent purposes.

Now as South Africa prepares to chair the African Union in 2020, we challenge the incoming Chairperson, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa to consider launching a similar and overdue Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of the Capture of Africa.

Consider this: The Republic of Niger invited 54 African Heads of State to have a meeting in their country in July 2019. But there was a problem. Niger was broke and did not have a decent convention centre to host this AU Summit. No money? No problem! Take a begging bowl and visit embassies in your African capital, find something to give away, and problem solved! This modus operandi is now being practised by nearly all African governments.

The Indian Embassy in Niger was ready to help and availed $15m for the construction of the centre. The gift was part of a plan to build chain convention centres across 20 African states. Among the concessions Niger acceded to was that it would be named the Mahatma Gandhi International Convention Centre.

The AU itself accepted the gift of a building to host its offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That is to say, African continental matters are now hosted by China. The notion that 55 African countries cannot fund and build their own offices is unacceptable. We must give back this structure and build our own offices. Surely this is doable!

A shocking number of African countries are in the queue for the construction of strategic facilities, like national parliaments, by China, as a gift. ECOWAS, Africa's largest regional economic bloc, had its HQ built by China, as a gift. Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Gabon--among others have accepted that parliamentary buildings be built by China as gifts. Soon we won't be able to make our own laws in our own buildings. Elsewhere, the Angolans and Guinea surrendered their biggest power generation projects to China. The list goes on and on. It's getting serious.

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