Neo-liberalism entered Africa at height of social inaction, says Prof Akuffo-Henaku


Ghana – THE Socialist Forum of Ghana says the introduction of neo-liberalism in the first independent nation on the African continent around the 1980s was an attack on the working class and the people’s way of life.

In his paper titled African economic growth over the past two decades: Failures of neo-liberalism and the socialist alternative, to delegates gathered in the Tunisian capital for the second annual meeting of Pan-Africanism Today recently, Professor Justice Akuffo-Henaku said neo-liberalism managed to permeate Ghanaian society 28 years at the height of social inaction.

He said it was at this time that the Socialist Forum of Ghana emerged as well and was currently managing a centre called Freedom Centre, which was preserving the intellectual legacy of the country’s first president Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, a well-known Marxist-Leninist.

 “Whereas the African people achieved political independence they do no determine their economic independence. The local political elite have benefitted from the aid industry and from corruption where they steal from their own people. Africa has not benefitted from neo-liberalism,” Prof Akuffo-Henaku said. 

Prof Akuffo-Henaku said there must be recognition that everything that was to be done on the continent should be premised on class interests.

“Revolutionary greetings to all comrades herein gathered at the 2nd annual conference of Pan-Africanism Today which is being held in Tunis, Tunisia in North Africa under the theme ‘Building a stronger Socialist Platform for Africa’,” he said. “The theme suggests that there are alternatives existing to the present economic paradigm in which we find ourselves, an economic model of capitalism which forms the philosophical understanding of neo-liberalism and which many African countries have been forced to adopt.” 

Prof Akuffo-Henaku said African countries have utterly and abysmally failed to liberate the productive forces in their societies and place the mode of production in the hands of the people for their own development.

“Neo-liberalism is a coherent philosophical variant of capitalism which has catalyzed and exacerbated the socio-economic crises in the whole world in general and Africa in particular,” he said. “It has tried to present itself as the only choice we have and it has been presented in various forms especially to Africa as the Economic Recovery Programme; Structural Adjustment Programme; Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC); Poverty Reduction Programmes, etc. All these economic models have failed to promote viable and long-term sustainable economic growth since the ‘Washington Consensus’ was imposed on African countries.”

Prof Akuffo-Henaku said ever since the imposition of the Washington Consensus on Africa, growth has been slow and unproductive, mass disinvestment in industry and agriculture have occurred, social investment in education and healthcare delivery had slowed considerably and investment in infrastructure has just enhanced Africa’s status of being a consumer of junk goods from the metro-poles. 

“The cyclical crises of the capitalist mode of production have not been cured as has been purveyed by the neo-liberal ideology and the financial crisis of 2008 attests to that fact,” he argued. “Globalisation has just become a smokescreen for a further takeover of African natural resources, a second scramble by the multi-nationals and finance capital with their destructive speculative deals and the use of privatisation as a tool for worldwide domination.”

He said worst of all, neo-liberalism at the same time uses the power of state, which it attacks as being inefficient, to attack and minimise the fruits of collective organisation by our workers and peasants to advance access to part of the surplus value they create and accumulate and increase profits for the owners of capital.

“All the above stated points have led to mass instability and subversion of African societies so that an intensification of the exploitation in alliance with corrupt and anti-democratic and dictatorial regimes elite can be done. What are the alternatives to this dark world, poverty and war that has been served on us?” Prof Akuffo-Henaku asked. “We must make up for the ideological deficiency that exists and accept that our fight is against capital in whatever form it exists and till we liberate the working people from capital domination we will not be able to resolve the problems of commercialisation of education, health and water.”

He urged that the management and direction of the productive forces and control of the means of production by the working people was a necessity that must be advocated and fought for.

“There is need to deepen our ideological understanding and analysis of the neo-liberal phenomenon and rid our society of exploitation of all kind. We must recognise that there is double exploitation both from within and without,” he said further.  “It is high time a coherent and well-defined political, economic and social set of goals articulated under a socialist alternative ideology is proposed and implemented as an alternative model of development. This can be achieved when we build a group of cadres, organised through a continental network of community rooted and people-oriented organisations armed with revolutionary theory to take over all facets of our society and bring about revolutionary change.”

He wondered whether the working class and the political elite had similar interests when it comes to the question of fragmentation and unity of the African continent. 

“The local [political] elite in Africa are also looking for political unity.  It is important that in talking of African unity, those of us represented at this conference look for like-minded people and who want an alternative model of development,” he said.



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