By Takudzwanashe Mundenga
It is actually defeatist the nation-states that helped Europe to develop through slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism are still being categorized as “Third World Countries” or “Poor Nations” to this day. In reality, these countries are not poor considering the piles of gold, platinum, diamonds, emeralds, pearls packed beneath them and the vast tracts of land to cultivate. Some even own oil fields and seashores that the developed world doesn’t have.
There mutual difficulty we have in these Emerging Nations is the insatiable greed of the elite and mismanagement of resources that has given birth to most resource-based conflicts and is often viewed as the cause for the ever-widening gap between the rich the poor. Another critical factor working against the progress of the nations is neo-colonialism by former colonial masters done through looting by multinational corporations that are headquartered in the Global North.
Nonetheless, whenever we try to disentangle these issues on multilateral platforms, the former colonial masters eventually give a dog a bad name then hang him. Muammar Gaddafi was killed in the process of trying to build a United States of Africa with a single currency that would automatically relegate the use of the US dollar.
Ostensibly the Emerging Nations themselves are also biting more than what they can chew in their decision-making processes at multilateral level. How can they propose 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved within 15 years when they have failed to attain only 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the same timeframe? It could be much prudent if they slot a double timepiece for SDGs.
I once asked a similar question on the previous Day of Poverty Eradication (17 October 2014) convened by the Zimbabwe United Nations Association (ZUNA) in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at Midlands State University, Gweru. To my disbelief, highbrows present at the function mishandled the question.
Apparently no developing country has perfectly achieved the deadline of the MDGs; therefore the SDGs in question are just a cover up for failure. This is confirmed by the duplication of the MDGs in the Post 2015 Agenda that is the SDG paper. If the truth be interrogated, then the agenda decided on the Rio+ 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is just a populist illusion.
The reason why both the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals are deemed to fail is that they tend to focus more on the government while neglecting corporate governance issues. The deficiency of accountability and transparency of many governments in the developing world is the worst stumbling-block militating against the achievement of policy targets.
Equally the development papers that are the MDGs and SDGs lack human rights-based language even though most of the issues they address are also stated in the Bill of Rights like the “right to health” and “right to education.” In spite of using the recursive terms like “access to…” they could better replaced them by “right to…” throughout the goals and targets.
Most scholastic evidence allude to the fact that the MDGs were created through a top-down process which rendered their disapproval while the SDGs have been initiated through one of the most inclusive participatory processes the world has ever seen. The participation is said to have been done through face-to-face consultations in more than 100 countries and millions of citizens’ inputs on websites.
Defiant to this mainstream thinking, when stakeholders were consulted, their input was only required to edit a working paper. It is also inevitable to argue that the “millions of citizens’ input in websites” they are referring to was done in those countries with low internet access such that those people living in poverty or extreme poverty which we seek to eradicate were and are still unaware of the feat. Therefore participation was minimal, making it another top-down development approach the same way the MDGs were birthed.
There are numerous internal and external challenges bedevilling the nations located in the Global South that might need to be addressed through both national and regional trajectories before delving into multilaterisation where we put all national problems at par. Corruption and mismanagement of resources by head honchos such as politicians and securocrats has been cited by several scholars as some of the major internal threats to blame for the underdevelopment of Sub Saharan Africa.
The behaviour of the state has to change in order to give way for development to take its course. It is during the MDG era that the Cashgate, Salarygate and Nkandlagate Scandals uncovered in Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively.
Also Zimbabwe is said to have prioritized the achievement of MDG 1, 3 and 6 while neglecting the rest and it is also most probable that given the number of goals and targets on the SDG paper, countries are likely to choose most preferable areas at the expense of other targets.
The majority Latin American and African countries are submerged and crippled by debt crisis. United Nations’ first African Secretary-General, the Egyptian Boutros Boutros Ghali once asserted: “Debt is a milestone rolled around the neck of Africa.” Countries in the Global South owe the Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank and International Monetary Fund) a lot of money that was loaned them as development aid and commitments towards debt repayment is choking them from achieving other obligations.
Due to realism, multilateral institutions like the United Nations have long become a brutal arena where weak nations are sacrificed for the benefit of the supremacists. Instead of rushing to SDGs, nation-states were supposed to rethink and revisit the reasons for failure and resolve them.
Takudzwanashe Mundenga is a Zimbabwean analyst and opinion writer. He is the Communications Assistant of Zimbabwe China Youth Forum (ZCYF). Among his academic contributions, he co-authored the book, The Post 1980 Chimurengas Explained edited by Richard R. Mahomva and Simbarashe Moyo.