HILLARY CLINTON OR DONALD TRUMP: WHO IS THE BEST FOR AFRICA?

While still on Rwanda, Clinton was the First lady when the 1994 genocide took place. While the United States and the world knew of what was happening, they literally did nothing. It is a testament to African resilience that Rwanda now ranks seventh globally on government efficient, a stone throw from overtaking the United States.

With her win in Puerto Rico, Hillary Clinton will certainly become the democratic presumptive nominee on Tuesday as California votes in the primary. She accomplishes the extraordinary fete of becoming the first ever woman nominee of a major political party in the United States to run for President. The Republican Party, on the other hand has the controversial real estate Donald J Trump as its presumptive nominee. Trump an extremely wealthy individual, has built an enviable empire with interests spurning from real estate, through communications, exclusive golf resorts, casinos and communications.

Even as the political debate rages on, I have always argued that Africa has to start persuasively proffering opinions that would influence political events across the world and the election of the president of the United States is such a key event. I have believed that, that just as an undersecretary of the American regime has a right to say, choices have consequences, of a Kenyan election, the Kenyan President, or the chairperson of the African Union has a right to say, in the continents view, candidate A represents a better persuasion than candidate B. does.

Hardly has Africa been mentioned in the 2016 American Presidential Race. This is such a surprise for a continent where the whole world agrees will be the final frontier of development. A number of the world’s fastest growing economies call Africa home. The continent is moving swiftly towards democratization and has remains of great strategic significance to American defense needs.

In my interactions with a number of friends, the continent, perhaps more than any other part of the world retains an emotional bond with the United States through African Americans. It is certainly not an over exaggeration to state that African Americans relate more to Africa, than a white American whose lineage can be traced to Europe would relate to Europe.

Both candidates have given what was dubbed as ‘Foreign Policy Speeches’ which I watched fully. Clinton did not mention Africa, I doubt though the speech was even foreign policy, rather a series of ballistic missiles launched at camp Donald.

Trump on April 27, after facing a series of complaints that he lacked the basic grasp of foreign policy, gave an address in Washington DC, where the only mention of Africa was through the discussing of the 1998 Al Qaeda bombings. He could not even properly pronounce the name Tanzania properly.

I am almost certain that Trump does not have a single investment in Africa. While the continent boasts among the most beautiful and expansive swathes that would make world class golf courses, the mogul’s appetite has just not been tickled the African way.

The Clinton’s work in Africa have been largely through the Clinton Global Initiative. Which I have been lucky to interact with as part of young leaders who met President Clinton when he visited Africa in 2012. And while the Clintons have not been classified as billionaires, certainly they have mobilized way more resources to the continent than Trump.

Let us review a few sentiments by the candidates before auditing their policy positions that would have an impact on the continent.

In August 2014 as six countries in Africa fought to contain Ebola, Trump using his favorite tool twitter quipped how the US could not allow EBOLA infected people back asking them to suffer the consequences of their good-heartedness. Earlier in 2013, as President Obama pledged an investment of USD 7 Billion to power Africa, Trump retorted that every penny would be stolen, as corruption will be rampant. He ignored the fact that corruption still plagued many African nations; Africa had nations like Rwanda, Botswana and Seychelles that recorded stronger scores than the US in certain instances of governance.

While still on Rwanda, Clinton was the First lady when the 1994 genocide took place. While the United States and the world knew of what was happening, they literally did nothing. It is a testament to African resilience that Rwanda now ranks seventh globally on government efficient, a stone throw from overtaking the United States.

To policy positions, all the two candidates have strong Immigration stands. Hillary stands out as being bold to make immigration a central issue of her campaign. Democrats have traditionally addressed immigration from the periphery during campaigns as they seek not to alienate moderates who feel strongly about immigration.

Hillary’s position to quote directly from her website, seeks to create a pathway to citizenship, keep families together, and enable millions of workers to come out of the shadows. She also pledges to defend President Obama’s executive actions to provide deportation relief for Dreamers and parents of Americans lawful residents, and extend those actions to additional persons with sympathetic cases if Congress refuses to act.

On the other hand, Trump suggests many things from denying citizenship to children of immigrants, to creating a deportation force that would deport 11million undocumented immigrants from the United States. I have no doubt that many Africans would be affected with their families being torn apart.

Trump has a penchant for suggesting to flaunt American might, both military and political clout at whatever challenge he feels America is facing.

Africa is certainly rediscovering herself and will be more comfortable with a US president who is ready to engage the continent as an equal; Clinton, as Secretary of State, pioneered the leading from behind philosophy by Obama which allowed the US to forge partnerships across the world. One is AMISOM which has African troupes fighting the war in Somalia as opposed to seeing American or European soldiers on the ground. Trump sees this as a weakness.

Clinton’s worst mistake as Secretary of State would definitely be Libya. While the final decision lay with President Obama, and he has conceded that this could be his worst mistake, that error cost Africa Libya and created the mayhem that the country now is.

I would charge the architect of that error to rectify it. Because choosing Trump is to choose a person who has openly said he would come in and take away the wealth a nation has, anytime he wages war.

Clinton’s presidency will be a required boost to the African woman. In many ways, we have drawn inspiration from the American experience, and at the time when the continent needs her daughters to come up strongly to her service, the inspiration of the first American woman president would definitely be a welcome addition.

On the other hand, a Trump presidency may inspire a folly of experiments, where demagogues rise to leadership on the continent at a time when leadership, compassion and tact is mostly needed.

I am certain, that Africa may find in Clinton a more reasonable ally than in Trump. But that with however wins, the coming decade must be defined by our moving steadfastly to claim our position on the global stage.

AFRICAN LEADERSHIP WRONG ON GEOPOLITICS

The African Union celebrated its 50th Anniversary in Addis Ababa with salvos being fired at ‘western’ forces that were keen on meddling with our internal affairs. Within the same breath, Rwandan President Paul Kagame told off those who thought aid was extremely critical to Africa that after all, Rwandese could go back to their hills and cultivate their potatoes.

The African leadership is certainly correct to say, Africans have to be in charge of their own destiny. But it is certainly wrong to impute that that necessarily means ridding ourselves of associations with certain parts of the globe, especially the west.

It is naïve to imagine that geopolitical interests are nonexistent or they do not influence municipal politics, indeed they are and history suggests that sometimes they lead to extensive arm twisting. However, 50 years on; Africa’s woes cannot be entirely blamed on the west.

Are geopolitics interests necessarily bad? No. The international arena is becoming heavily intertwined that it is an issue of prudent caution for nations to extensively audit their potential partners. This audit may from time to time lead to preferences but as long as the interference is not material, there is absolutely no illegality even if a country expressed its direct support for candidate A, or even sponsored candidate B.

African Presidents are acting hypocritical yet some of them have their campaigns bank rolled by foreign donors.

Africa cannot afford to continue believing that sovereignty means having the domestics entirely left to the locals, that Palmas notion has certainly been modified by globalization. It is time to know that as ultimate human civilization is neared, humanity becomes one and so will the caution about who sits on the international table increase.

The concept of sovereignty in my opinion does not exclude scrutiny.  In fact Africa should rise up to the international calling of shaping opinion even in other jurisdictions if it wants its interests best served. It is absolute naivety for the African leadership to demand that the west retreats and leaves African politics to Africans. That cannot happen, and it should not happen. As a member of the International Community, Africa must endure scrutiny as this is inevitable.

It is not in the interest of anyone, not nationals of African states or international allies to have persons who may jeopardize foreign relations at the helm of states. And expressing opinion about municipal politics by international allies is a sign of honest engagement which should not be demonized.

As the African leadership seeks to run away from scrutiny, it has visibly started shifting east. This is desirable in my opinion, as overreliance on one partner may make us beholden to them.

However, if this is motivated by assumptions that Eastern Allies do not question our propensities, time is certainly bound to erode that assumption.

China’s economic growth for instance firmed up when it opened itself to the rest of the world. And as it accomplishes the modifications to its own systems, reality is beginning to dawn that to protect its interests, allies have to be determined with caution.

The inevitability of globalization calls for Africa to endeavor to assert her influence instead of calling for other to withdraw their influence.