China’s Cooperation with Africa is a Win-win Cooperation

By Arnold Katende Ricky and Ssemanda Abdurahim

Dear Editor, on Thursday 27th July 2023 Sino-Uganda Research Centre, a Ugandan Think Tank dedicated to analysis of Uganda’s foreign policy and diplomacy in international milieux with focus on China-Uganda relations left me deeply thinking much about China-Uganda cooperation.  The symposium which ran under the theme “A New Era of China-Africa Relations: What is in it For Uganda?” saw different scholars and researchers discussing different topics among others China’s development path to modernisation and what lessons can Uganda and Africa in general draw from it, and role of women in development among others.

Partly organised to discuss likely implications of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in regard to China-Africa Cooperation as well as the outcomes of the China-Uganda cooperation, Sino-Uganda Research Centre released results for research entitled “perceptions about China-Uganda Relations: Public and Key Stakeholder’s Perspectives,” towards China-Uganda relations. The findings showed that majority of Ugandans are happy and support China-Uganda cooperation with 76% of Ugandans commending China’s role in supporting Uganda’s development plans especially through infrastructure funding support crediting the support for improving the countries road sector, creating employment opportunities to Ugandan and training as well as offering scholarship opportunities.

While according to Sino-Uganda Research Centre, only 22% of Ugandans believe China’s loaning terms to Uganda are fair, with the discussion of China’s development assistance, one can conclude that this area is always left out by Ugandans and Africans in general to be analysed and discussed by western media who arguably always want to criticise China’s engagement with the rest of the world. This is partly because; by playing a positive role in economic development of developing countries, China shrinks the so-called traditional development partners’ role who are largely western countries and secondly, because in most of Chinese funding are implemented by Chinese firms, a negative narrative is created since these Chinese firms take contracts which western countries firms normally want. Therefore, the negative feeling of Chinese loans to African countries should always be expected because of western media narratives and propaganda.

Indeed, Professor Timothy Kerswell of Chinese University of Hong Kong explained that most of negative views towards Chinese loans are as a result of what he described as “penetration of the so-called ‘Western Debt’ trap Narrative” which lacks facts.

While lauding Sino-Uganda Research Centre for investing time and resources in research that focuses on shaping Uganda’s interests, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda and Minister for East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, who represented the Vice President Jessica Alupo under scored importance of researchers and think tanks being independent while conducting their work. She stressed that; “aware that credible and independent research is very important in guiding policy formulation and implementation, I would like to encourage and urge you to make sure that your work is done in total observance of the principle of independence in research for the benefit of Uganda, China, and the world.”

Kadaga stressed that for the last 61 years, China and Uganda have enjoyed good relations which has seen China’s continued support to Uganda in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, health, industry, and energy sectors emphasised Uganda government is commitment to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Speaking at the same occasion, Chinese ambassador to Uganda, Zhang Lizhong, explained that the Chinese Path to Modernisation is socialist modernisation under the leadership of the CPC, and emphasised that it is “based on China’s national reality, and draws on other countries’ experience.” Ambassador Lizhong argued that as part and parcel of humanity’s modernisation, Chinese modernisation path contains what he described as “elements that are common to other countries’ modernisation, such as industrialisation, urbanisation, greater democracy, and rule of law. Meanwhile, it also has unique Chinese features as it is rooted in the Chinese context.”

If we critically analyse ambassador Lizhong’s words in regard to China’s development path, it is not a surprise that when China announced that the country had eliminated extreme poverty, United Nations described the rate at which China achieved this as a record time. The point of emphasis here is that China took a path that that is/was compatible to the country because, their development path is/was “based on China’s national reality.”

Upon that background and recalling the failed structural adjustment programs (SAPs) which Bretton Woods Institutions particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed on Africa, it looks clear that China’s path to development if considered may be the magic bullet for African countries to attain development and modernisation, more importantly, modernisation. Put differently, while African countries may learn from other countries’ development path, it is important that like China which decided to take a development path with Chinese characteristics or which is compatible with their national realities, African countries must also take a path that is compatible with our national realties but not simply following any program as it was in 1980s when IMF forced many of developing countries especially in Africa and Latin America to follow SAPs.

The other interesting revelation was arguments by Ambassador Lizhong that China’s modernisation path is premised on a view that modernisation should not be considered as a reserve of one country or individual stressing that Chinese modernisation is the modernisation of common prosperity for all, and will open up a broader path to common development of all countries. “Modernisation should not make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Common prosperity for the whole world requires prosperity of all countries,” argued ambassador Lizhong.

In a nutshell, looking at China’s continuous engagement with African countries and Chinese leaders’ consistency in their communication, there is no reason to doubt or question China’s relations with Africa. As a Ugandan, I have no reason to conclude that as Africans let’s joint our hands together, to open up a new chapter of China-Ugandan friendship of solidarity, friendship and cooperation, and jointly build the China-Ugandan and China-Africa Community of Shared Future in the New Era!

Arnold Katende Ricky and Ssemanda Abdurahim are Research Fellows at The Development Watch Centre.

Strategic Government Planning is at the Root of China’s Modernisation

By Moshi Israel

The path of China to modernisation is a tale of perseverance, strategic planning, reform and whole process democracy. It is a path trodden by all the people of china with the Communist Party of China (CPC) leading the way. China’s path to modernisation should be a revered blueprint for other developing countries. It is testament to the fact that with a determined population and an organized government that appreciates its own contemporary and historical context, development can be achieved at the highest level.

Before the communist revolution in 1949, China like other impoverished countries struggled to find its identity. The country was stuck in the murky waters of constant civil wars, the opium wars, colonialism and years of humiliation. The advent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under Chairman Mao ushered in a new era of strategic ambition for the Chinese. Since then, the CPC has been at the forefront of efforts to turn china into a modern, developed and advanced socialist country with Chinese characteristics.

During this year’s April 21st Opening Ceremony of the Lanting Forum on Chinese Modernisation and the World in Shanghai, H.E State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang gave a keynote speech in which he uttered these immortal words that capture the spirit of China’s Modernisation path;

A towering tree grows from its roots, and a long river flows from its source. Likewise, our success in Chinese modernization was not handed down from the heaven or just emerged by itself. It has been attained step by step through determined, painstaking efforts of the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC always staying true to its founding mission. Chinese modernization is deeply rooted in Chinese history, practices and philosophies.”

The above quote should be framed and hanged on the walls of all policy makers in all developing countries. Words are the building blocks for action. A careful study especially here in Uganda of China’s path to modernisation can yield inspiration in various forms and put the country on a similar path. This path should involve all Ugandans and should be led by a government invested in long-term strategic planning.  One avenue to study are the characteristics of China’s path to Modernisation.

The first characteristic involves the fact that china’s modernisation covers a huge population of well over a billion people (1.4b). The lifting of millions of people out of absolute poverty is not only an advantage for China but also helps the world at large. The more people out of poverty, the more the world realizes its sustainable development goals expressed through the United Nations. Also, China has over 50 nationalities and a vast territory which in most cases is a recipe for disaster. However, all these diverse peoples have been well integrated into a development program that leaves no one behind. This is not easy to achieve but should serve as an example to a country like Uganda which also boasts numerous ethnicities and tribes. Cultural diversity is a strength and not a weakness.

Secondly, China’s modernisation involves common prosperity for all. This involves the reduction and elimination of the gap between the rich and poor. China’s President Xi Jinping commonly says “The Country is the people, and the people is the country.”  No country can achieve development without involving its people. For instance, China has established the world’s largest compulsory education system, social security system and health system. This prosperity is not relegated to the Chinese people but also extended globally to include Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. Initiatives such as the Belt and Road (BRI), FOCAC and GDI are China’s embrace of prosperity with the rest of the world.

Also, another characteristic of China’s modernisation path is the modernisation of Material and Cultural-Ethical advancement. It is rooted in Karl Marx’s philosophy of all-round development of the human being. China recognises the importance of material abundance in building a modern socialist country. However, to avoid the social breakdown in some other developed countries, the Chinese also value and implement Cultural-ethical advancement that focuses on upholding morality and social values to build a well-balanced material and Spiritual state.

The fourth characteristic of china’s modernisation honours the link between humanity and nature. The world today is seemingly united in the fight against the existential crisis of climate change. China has been taking major steps in curbing its carbon emissions. It has also pushed for sustainable development and promised to achieve carbon dioxide peaking and neutrality. This is an area in which, many developing countries are facing challenges and require extensive research and investment. Fortunately, China is also looking to address this global challenge through the ‘Belt and Road Green Development International Alliance.’

Last but not least, the Chinese path to modernisation is a path of peaceful development. A world without conflicts is an ideal world for all involved. It is a safe world for development and it is especially important for developing nations. China rejects the old notions of development through war, plunder and destruction of others. Vital to Chinese interests is a peaceful world in which to conduct relations. Therefore, china advocates for mutual respect and win-win partnerships. China’s credentials as a peace advocate have been enormously boosted by the recent brokering of the Saudi-Iran peace deal that had a positive effect on conflicts in the Middle East.

It is therefore, vital for developing nations to study China’s modernisation path that elevated it from a century of humiliation to a modern economic and political power house slated to overtake the United States as the largest economy in the world.  It is important to note that when the cold war ended in 1991, western countries were jubilant and celebrated the victory of capitalism. Several scholars labelled it the ‘end of history,’ because capitalism was the sole system driving human civilization. However, China through the strategic planning of the CPC and Chinese people produced a miracle, it achieved in a few decades, a kind of development that took western countries thousands of years. China’s modernisation is proof that there is more than one way to achieve development.

The Writer is a Research Fellow with the Development Watch Centre




China’s development model: Lessons for Uganda and Africa

By Allawi Ssemanda.

Dear Editor, during a symposium on the implication of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) under the theme, “Forge Ahead on the New Journey and Work Together for A New Era,” Chinese ambassador to Uganda Zhang Lizhong introduced Chinese path to development to Ugandan think tanks and journalists describing it as the major engine that saw China transform from a poor developing country to become the world’s second largest economy.  Ambassador Lizhong explained that as a developing country, China decided to not to move with the so-called common model of modernisation and embraced path of modernisation with Chinese characteristics.

Following a Chinese development path with Chinese characteristics, China ‘has united and led the whole country, and the people in solving many challenging problems that were long on the agenda but never resolved, making many achievements that concerned the nation’s future. As we completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieved the first centenary Goal, China’s economic strength, scientific and technological strength, comprehensive national strength and international influence continued to grow. In 2021, China’s economic aggregate reached 114.4 trillion-yuan, accounting for more than 18 percent of the global economy,’ ambassador Lizhong emphasised.

With glaring achievements China has registered which includes being the first country globally to eliminate absolute poverty at a record time, arguably, such a path is way to go for developing countries like Uganda which is still grappling with poverty and key social service delivery.

Following Chinese path to modernisation with Chinese characteristics, China under leadership of CPC has been able to “accomplished the arduous task of eliminating extreme poverty. We have built the world’s largest education system, social security system and medical system, Chinese people’s lives have improved in all respects,” stressed ambassador Lizhong.

Upon that background and recalling the failed structural adjustment programs (SAPs) which International Monetary Fund (IMF) imposed on Africa, it looks clear that China’s path to development if considered may be the magic bullet for African countries to attain development and modernisation, more importantly, modernisation with “African characteristics”.

But how does China’s path to modernisation look like? What are some of its characteristics? Does it really suit African countries needs or, is it best model for African countries?

In his report to CPC’s 20th national assembly, Sectary General Xi Jinping highlighted what he described as systematic exposition of the unique features and essential requirements of China’s modernisation:

Firstly, the Chinese path is the modernisation of a huge population of the more than 1.4 billion people in china; Secondly, China’s path is the modernisation of common prosperity for all. Explaining that the immutable goal of China’s modernisation drive is to meet the people’s aspirations for a better life, Beijing stresses that China “will endeavour to maintain and promote social fairness and justice, bring prosperity to all, and prevent polarisation.” China argues that achieving common prosperity is a defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and involves a long historical process; thirdly, China’s emphasises that “while continuing to consolidate the material foundation for modernisation and improve the material conditions for people’s wellbeing, we will strive to develop advanced socialist culture, foster strong ideals and convictions, and carry forward China’s cultural heritage.”

The other key characteristics of China’s development path are; the modernisation of harmony between humanity and nature. Here, China commitment that its modernisation “lies in building a beautiful homeland for man and nature to live in harmony.” Lastly, China’s path to development stresses modernisation of peaceful development. Ambassador Lizhong argues thatChinese path to modernisation emphasises mutual benefit and win-win cooperation with other countries including Uganda, promotes the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and strives to contribute to peace and development of mankind. China will not tread the old path of war, colonisation, and plunder taken by some countries. That brutal and blood-stained path of enrichment at the expense of others caused great suffering for the people of developing countries.”

From the above, we learn that in pursuit for her development, China put her national interests first; focused on internal political concerns; and maintained firm strategic resolve with determination to never yield to coercive power as the country sought its development.

Also, from China’s path to modernisation, Uganda and Africa in general can learn that you don’t loose your identity in order to modernise. China blended modernisation to its traditions. For example, despite modernisation the country is going through, to date, family hierarchy in China is respected. It is the same rational spread throughout other institutions in context of respect.

Put differently, Chinese development path has Chinese characteristics that “to developed as a country and people they have to drink from Chinese traditions in order to tap modernity. Not to just take modernity for its sake which would leave their country at risk of losing their identity through socialisation.

For Uganda and Africa in general, in Chinese development model we have an opportunity to learn from them but we must ask questions like; Yes, we need to be modern but what is it that it speaks to our minds and our hearts in this modernisation? What is in that is Ugandan/African? This way, Uganda and African can study from Chinese model and pick lessons from what can work for Uganda or Africa to develop.

Good enough is that China does not force other countries to take what they do not believe in. At the Embassy’s symposium, ambassador Lizhong explained that “China’s modernisation goes beyond copying others” stressing that “it is an independent path to development. For modernisation, there does not exist a single definitive model. Copying mechanically is not the solution. China’s modernisation is socialist modernisation pursed under the leadership of the CPC. It has broken down the stereotyped thinking of equating to the modernisation with Westernisation, proving irrefutably that developing countries are capable of independently treading the path to modernisation that works.”

Personally, if asked, western or Chinese modernisation? I definitely would say as Africans we can choose to learn from Chinese model and we blend it with African characteristics.

Allawi Ssemanda is a senior research fellow at the Development Watch Centre.


People at The Centre of Xi Jinping’s CPC’s National Congress Report

By Allawi Ssemanda.

On Sunday October 16th, Chinese president Xi Jinping opened the highly anticipated 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) which is ongoing at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. In his 105 minutes speech, President Xi who doubles as CPC party Secretary General put Chinese people at the centre of his speech and broadly his governance.

In his report entitled “Hold High the Great Banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive in Unity to Build a Modern Socialist Country in All Respects,” President Xi explained, “this country is its people. The people are the Country. As the Communist Party of China has led the people in fighting to establish and develop the People’s Republic, it has really been fighting for the people’s support and bringing benefits to the people is the fundamental principle of governance,” President Xi emphasised.

The central point here is that, President Xi clearly knows that to lead well his country and help it move to what CPC sees as the ideal step, or to successfully start and walk CPC’s dream of a “New Journey of the New Era” and accelerate the creation of a new development pattern while pursuing high-quality development which he mentioned, ultimately, he needs the support and cooperation of people and thus, he promised that Chinese government would do all it takes to serve interests of the citizens. “We must strive to realize, safeguard, and advance the fundamental interests of all our people. To this end, we must do everything within our capacity to resolve the most practical problems that are of the greatest and most direct concern to the people. We will continue to improve the system of income distribution, implement the employment-first strategy, improve the social security system, and advance the Healthy China Initiative,” Xi stressed.

Further, President Xi told the delegates that CPC is committed to promoting and supporting advancement of “Whole-Process People’s Democracy” and ensuring that the people run the country. “We will continue to strengthen the institutions through which the people run the country, fully develop consultative democracy, actively develop democracy at the primary level, and consolidate and develop the broadest possible patriotic united front,” Xi emphasised.

From historical perspective, China’s concept of whole-process people’s democracy is not new. It is actually a major proposition put forward by CPC’s General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward based on the development of democracy in China and it is included in the communique of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC arising from its sixth plenary session held from 8th to 11th, November 2021.

While China has at times been criticised especially by the west claiming that Beijing is not a democracy, China has always argued that Democracy is not an exclusive patent of Western countries and therefore cannot and should not be defined and dictated by Western countries. Xu Lin, the deputy director of the publicity of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of State Council Information Office argues that after reviewing the gains and losses of political development at home and abroad, CPC keenly realised that China’s political civilisation and political system must be deeply rooted in China’s society and that it cannot work for China to copy the political systems of other countries. Xu Lin maintain that democracy is, “at its core, all about the people running the country.” If critically analysed, this may explain why in his speech Xi maintained that people must be at centre-stage of running affairs of their country.

Another key observation from President Xi’s report to CPC’s ongoing national conference is his diction. In language and communication, choice of words used by speaker(s) matter. And in International Relations, words of a leader matter. In his close to two hours address, at no time did president Xi use the word “I”.  His speech was largely characterised by “we” signalling that despite being the President and party Secretary General, Xi is not running a one man’s show. Put differently, it means as a party in government, when it comes to making decisions and governance, CPC is inclusive and arguably follows democratic principles of consulting, listening and working with majority than one individual. Going by words of Peter Drucker; Xi is an effective leader and a team player: “The leaders who work most effectively, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team,” and their challenge is to make their team deliver.

On the international scene, president Xi indicated China’s readiness in promoting Global Peace and Development and Building a Human Community with a Shared Future. At a time when the world is faced challenges such as Ukraine crisis, sky rocketing energy prices and experts predicting poor economic recovery this year and the coming year, what the world needs to listen too are commitments from global leaders committing to support and protect peace and global development, consultation, and win-win cooperation; Leaders who are against group politics and block confrontation, conflict, coercion and zero-sum games.  Put differently, the world needs to hear leaders who speak and promote dialogue and diplomacy not block formation and or cold war mentality. On this, arguably, President Xi directly spoke wishes of peace and development lovers which signals statesmanship.

While he spoke for peace and dialogue in addressing issues, President Xi also exhibited a picture of a leader who is ready to guard and protect interests of his country vowing to uphold and improve the Policy of One Country, two systems and promoting national reunification.

The biggest applause throughout his speech came when he stated: “The wheels of history are rolling on toward China’s reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Complete reunification of our country must be realised, and it can, without doubt, be realised.”  Citing

1971 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 and other historical facts, China maintains that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and always  wants to unite it with the mainland. Chinese people cast this as a sacred mission which should be completed. “We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary,” Xi declared. All this shows that China is willing to do anything it takes to complete its unification be peaceful or otherwise.

Conclusively, President Xi’s speech largely focused on people, development, peace, democracy and environment as China seeks to cooperate and work with the world to build a Human Community with a Shared Future and common prosperity.

Allawi Ssemanda,PhD is a Senior Research Fellow at Development Watch Centre.


Xi Jinping’s report to the 20th National Congress of the CPC: Lessons for Uganda and Africa

By Alan Collins Mpewo

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is currently holding its 20th National Congress at the Great Hall of the people of Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping who doubles as party secretary general on behalf of CPC delivered to the Congress a report entitled “Hold High the Great Banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive in Unity to Build a Modern Socialist Country in All Respects.”

The report was so rich in as far as nationalism goes, but also addressed the contemporary issues that surrounding China within the greater global environment. There’s a lot of lessons to pick for the Global South, and specifically Uganda. China and its nationalists have metamorphosed the art of planning for the future while circumstances permit. This was equally showcased in the report. The aims for achieving endless innovation and creations on the new era, while also appreciating China’s relations with other global actors.

Culture is a commonly emphasized phenomenon, and there’s hardly a chance of not noticing Chinese culture whenever an individual meets Chinese Nationals. This ideal has for decades now been a foundation for running the Chinese society and governance systems. It’s one of the ideals that Uganda should look out for. An incorporation of the Uganda people’s ideals in administrative structures such as “Ubuntu – I am, because you are,” togetherness and always having second opinions before undertaking to fulfill some actions or omissions.

In President Xi Jinping’s words, he noted that “corruption is a cancer.” Uganda, just like numerous other countries in the world have for decades been struggling with ridding the vice from their communities. In some social spaces, it may have one thinking that it’s a common norm, and not a vice. China undertook the importance of such a robust fight against it, and because of that, it’s of no surprise that China is currently one of the leading economies. Uganda should therefore fast track and assert a better place on the global corruption index.

In his close to two hours speech, Xi emphasized the long Chinese tradition that “the country is its people.” This introduces the aspect of respect for governance structures and the understanding that without the citizens in a country, much would soon crumble. This, African countries can learn from that above ideal since it’s foundational especially in the arena of observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Whereas it’s not an indictment, most of countries in the global south have for long had challenges in appreciating the aspect of “country being its people” and such gives them a bad look. We can look at our shortcomings and find a common ground of reconciling with the fact that much efforts are still required to endeavor every citizen feels assertive of their connection to the country.

China’s national policy for opening up to the outside world was also reiterated. With this, China understands the role of international relations. Each year, China makes sure to create mutually beneficial new relations with the far global lands. With Uganda, China formed these relations as early as the 1960’s, yet still in 2022, the two countries are celebrating 60 years of diplomacy. This aspect shouldn’t be undermined and it has many lessons for Uganda to learn. The ability of making new relations with global actors, while maintaining them for many years is something not so many countries have managed to achieve. Often times, some of these countries end up being dictatorial onto other states.

Xi’s report re-emphasized respect for the other countries that China deals with. But while at it, China views the countries it relates with as partners while being guided by the principle of mutual respect. On global stage, other world players like the US should embrace that aspect of respecting other countries they deal with to ensure tranquility rather than seeking dominance, hegemony and confrontations and cold war mentality.

The report guides as to how far China has gone in as far as easing economic relationships with other global actors. Because of that, the economy has been infested with great strides in development. Numerous opportunities have also been created for the Chinese Nationals in other many partner states that China relates well with.

Lastly, the report highlighted a major, perhaps the most important aspect of the new prospective era – Technology advancement. As far as global growth goes, technology is the future, and without a doubt, the countries that fail to cope with the shifts, will face more complex times ahead. Uganda and African countries in general should also look at the aspect of planning for the future. Sparking a new revolution of science and technology through impactful research and government support for the many budding innovators within our countries. Uganda has a lot of potential in setting a revised approach to this phenomenon. Technology sharing would therefore be in sight if Uganda supports its STEM innovators and perhaps someday, Uganda, just like China, would become a benchmark as far as innovation goes.

Alan Collins Mpewo, is a lawyer and senior research Fellow at Development Watch Centre.


Can Stagnant African Liberation Movements Emulate China?

By Emmanuel Matambo.

On 22 June 2021, the Centre for Africa-China Studies (CACS) at the University of Johannesburg and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) hosted a webinar to reflect on the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s 100th anniversary. Professor Ibbo Mandaza, a renowned Zimbabwean academic and politician was one of the presenters. In comparing the achievements of the CPC with those of Southern Africa’s liberation movements, Mandaza argued that the latter exhausted their usefulness the moment they succeeded to end settler colonial rule, and, thus, had no use after independence. I respectfully disagree with Mandaza’s categorical assertion for an obvious reason: according to that logic, the CPC, a liberation movement in its own right, would have had no usefulness beyond securing political independence for the Chinese people. This article submits that Southern African liberations movements need to adapt to their new circumstances if they wish to emulate the CCP’s longevity and successes.

The CPC’s impressive achievements, especially when told to a Southern African audience almost automatically brings into focus the quality of ruling parties in Southern Africa. However, the CPC itself has had a chequered history since its formation. I am of the view that the most important characteristic of the CPC is, by far, its ability to adapt. Arguably, others may allude to issues such as the forced political stability that does not brook political opposition, a merit-driven deployment of party cadres in strategic positions, and the work ethic of Chinese citizens. All these, however, could be traced to the willingness of CPC apparatchiks to timely respond to shifting domestic and international dynamics.

The CPC of the Mao era was doctrinaire, hell-bent on ideological purity, national sovereignty and pulling China out of the Soviet shadow. Thus, China under Mao played some part in sponsoring anti-colonial intrigue, it openly fought an ideological battle with the Soviet Union, purged those it considered apostates and embarked on costly disasters such as the Cultural Revolution. During the Cultural Revolution, middle-class Chinese intellectuals and artisans, accused of harbouring capitalist tendencies, were shunted to rural areas for socialist instruction. Thus, while China might have gained in ideological authenticity during the Mao era, the country remained desperately poor.

Mao Zedong died in 1976, opening China to possibilities of foreswearing the zealotry of the late Chairman. In 1978, under the auspices of Deng Xiaoping, a survivor of Mao’s purges, China started making breath-taking reforms and risks that are responsible for the greatest reduction of national poverty unmatched in the country, which remains unmatchced in human history. Even Barack Obama writes that due to China’s post-Mao policies, which entailed an “export-driven economy, a state-managed form of capitalism, no nation in history has developed faster or moved more people out of abject poverty.” Deng and his successors managed to achieve such stupendous feats because they adapted to a constantly changing international economic system. They well understood that insular politics and foreign policies deprived China of the benefits of integration with countries that could furnish China with technology, mineral and energy resources and markets for the country’s products. The country worked painstakingly to be included in the World Trade Organisation (which eventually happened in 2001), and for more than thirty years since 1978, China’s economy was growing at an unprecedented 9.5%. Today, from the $23 of 1949, China’s per capita GDP stands at $10,000, and its life expectancy is at 75 years. In addition to this, in November 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that China had completely eradicated extreme poverty.

The presenters at the 22 June event referred to this inauspicious history in order to highlight the stupendous development that China has attained under the leadership of the CPC. Inevitably, this drew the discussion to where African liberation movements go wrong.  In this regard, the CPC’s example carries a few lessons for Southern Africa.

The need to adapt to changing circumstances

The problem with liberation movements in Africa is that they are not as adaptable as the CPC. A candid acknowledgement of mistakes committed led China to abandon Mao-era dogmatism. Southern African liberation movements would also have to forthrightly look at how policies such as affirmative action and land redistribution have not translated into upward mobility for the long suffering ordinary Southern Africans.

In a world that is increasingly globalised, Southern African leaderships could do well to encourage skills and student exchanges, a decision that served the CPC well at the time when it sought to implement what it called the Four Modernisations (agriculture, industry, defence, and science and technology). Considering that the biggest resource that Africa in general has is its people; with only 3% of Africans above the age of 65 years, and about 55% of the people between the age of 15 and 65, the continent is teeming with latent talent which could be put to use through aggressive investment in education; governing parties need to invest not only in traditional tertiary institutions, but in technical colleges that could provide the continent with hard skills.

All this does not require that liberation movements be removed from power. It requires that they become more responsive to their circumstances, that they nurture ideological clarity, and that they defer to talent and capability when appointing people in leadership positions rather than outdated references to one’s “struggle credentials.”

The imperative to advance national priorities

ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe and the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa are partly tethered to the witch-hunting mentality that made them successful liberation movements and exposers of enemy agents. However, there is a dearth of leaders within such movements with the foresight of leaders like Deng Xiaoping – the architect of China’s successful reforms. Consequently, lacking the necessary clarity of purpose, such liberation movements tend to perpetuate their bush-inherited stealth ways, with secret tussles for power that do not really have a national, people-oriented agenda as a priority.

Thus, the failure of entrenched political parties in Southern Africa is not because they have outlived their usefulness; it is rather because they have failed to adapt – to make the leap from anti-colonial agitation to effectively governing the countries they are in charge of, and, as a result, advance national priorities.

Clinging on to power cannot remain the main preoccupation

Multiparty political contestation is another preoccupation that usually taxes most of the energy of liberation movements. Desperate to maintain power, they tend to spend most of their energies and resources on discrediting and harassing their political rivals, as has been the case in Zimbabwe, to devastating effects. In South Africa, the ANC has clung on to power by a slew of stratagems that include the rolling out of the world’s biggest social welfare grant system, for which the poorest, comprising the biggest voting demographic are beneficiaries. In addition, the ANC plays up its central role in ending apartheid, thereby encouraging in prospective voters, the feeling that they owe post-apartheid South Africa to the governing party.

Like its Zimbabwean counterpart, the ANC also traffics in discrediting its rivals, such as accusing the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, of sectarian politics that cater only for white South Africans. This is an oblique allusion that the DA could take South Africa back to apartheid. Unfortunately, while such tactics (of slander, harassment and occasional violence) have kept some liberation movements in power, they have not improved Southern Africa’s circumstances. This calls for urgent action.

No more excuses

It is time for southern African liberation movements to adapt, act with the needed sense of urgency, and respond to changing circumstances in the way that the CPC did. According to Statistics South Africa, the country’s general unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2021 was 32,6%, while among the youth (aged between 15 and 34), it was 46,3% “implying that almost one in every two young people in the labour force did not have a job in the first quarter of 2021.” These cheerless statistics could tempt one to argue in tandem with Professor Mandaza. Yes, some of South Africa’s woes could be blamed on longstanding injustices wrought by colonialism and apartheid. The ANC, as well other southern African liberation movements, inherited a country where the majority of citizens were on the fringes of economic progress. But the CPC did not find a thriving China, either.


CPC’s Centenary of progress: a journey that mutually benefited African Countries.

By Allawi Ssemanda.

Today marks exactly 100 years since the formation of China’s ruling party – the Communist Party of China (CPC). From a humble beginning which characterised its very first national congress in the city of Shanghai, today CPC stands tall. After their 72 years at the helm, CPC has transformed the once poor and under developed country to become the world’s second economy and technology power house with a staggering GDP estimated at about $14.7 trillion as of 2020 just behind United States of America’s (U.S.A) $20.9 trillion.

With able party leadership, CPC has driven China on a steady and consistent economic growth which has seen the country carrying on the most successful poverty alleviation projects in the world’s history. For example, from 1990 to 2018, China was able to reduce extreme poverty from 66.3% to 0.3% and early February this year, Xi Jinping, the secretary general of CPC’s Central Committee announced the good news that China had completely eliminated abject poverty. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres hailed the achievement as a huge contribution to UN’s 2030 sustainable development agenda stressing that “It also brings hope and inspiration to the international society, and shows that a campaign promise and consistent policy can make a difference in improving livelihood of the most deprived and vulnerable.”

Whereas China’s success story has been viewed by some western world with scepticism, some criticising China’s good relations with developing countries especially in the global north, one can firmly say such criticism is a result of lack of information and malice and arguably, some Western country’s libido dominandi, a latin concept meaning the argue to dominate everything.

From historical perspective, China has never been a selfish country and has always been on the side of developing countries. For example, during colonial bondage when many African countries were under colonial rule, despite her challenges at home as a developing country, China played a key role in helping African countries to snap the ugly shackles of colonial rule. In late 1960s, China set up a soft loan of about $400 million to assist in construction of the famous TAZARA railway line linking Tanzania and Zambia which helped in easing transport in East African region and beyond. China set up this fund at a time when its total per capita GDP was still low compared to Sub-Saharan Africa. For record, until 1978, Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP was about $490 while China’s averaged was about $156. Therefore, it is not new China to consider helping other developing countries at a time when Beijing seems to be in need.

Therefore, the continued good relations and development assistance from China to several African countries and the rest of global south should not be interpret as Beijing’s hidden agenda but rather, Chinese belief in promoting sprit of a shared prosperity for mankind.

Today, as CPC and People’s Republic of China in general mark 100 years of success, there are many lessons countries world over can draw from China’s governance and leadership model. Arguably, CPC is one of largest and vibrant old political parties in the world and tops the list of political parties enjoying citizen’s support. Indeed, a May 2021 study by Washington Post revealed that 98% of Chinese had trust in the national government. This was a great score compared with 2018’s Values survey which put the percentage at 95!

Perhaps the puzzle other governments should ponder at should be; how does CPC function to enjoy such huge support from not just party members but all citizens?

Looking at CPC right from the revolution time to date, it is evident that party leadership has always firmly put interest of people first whenever the government is developing policies. It is this magic that has seen the country able to provide better and functioning systems that support the country in all important sectors like health, transport, education, energy, creating employment opportunities for citizens, and ensuring security among others.

The other magic bullet CPC and Chinese government employed that can’t be under looked is creating a knowledge-based governance system. This has been achieved through party leadership’s commitment of ensuring right people with right knowledge are put in right place to ensure government policies and plans work and results are seen in given timelines. Coupled with the party’s leadership stance against corruption, when government makes a promise to people, results are delivered.  It is model that embraces merit over mediocracy that has seen the country achieve set goals year after year, thereby leaving citizens contended and trusting their government.

Beijing’s decision to maintain her non- interference policy in affairs of sovereign states has left Beijing a friend to many. If looked critically, this has saved the country unnecessary expenses and costs that come with meddling in internal affairs of other countries. This means the country has enough time to plan, put to good use resources and work for her people and where necessary offer a helping hand to other countries instead of imposing their beliefs and influence in quest for global hegemony.

As we look forward to another century – a journey CPC has started today, China is proving to the world that communism with Chinese characters work best, not because Beijing forces it on other nations, but people of the world can see success in China which resonates well with their aspirations.  To CPC and People’s Republic of China, congratulations for reaching this far.  What China has just celebrated is by all definitions a century of success and provides countless lessons to other developing countries on how to dream big and realise such dreams.

Allawi Ssemanda is a senior research fellow at Development Watch Centre, a Foreign Policy Think Tank.

A Century of Progress: CPC’s Success Story and the Rise of China Have Positively Impacted Africa.

As China’s ruling party – the Communist Party of China (CPC) celebrates her 100th birthday, from its very humble background, in almost all fronts, CPC now stands firm and taller after seeing China through a remarkable Century of unquestionable progress.

After 72 years of steady leadership, CPC guided China to move from a poor, and developing country to become the world’s second largest Economy. As of 2020, China’s total GDP was estimated to total $14.7 trillion, sightly bellow U.S’ $20.9 trillion. Arguably, China’s CPC leadership continue to guide the country to the right direction in terms of economic and social development. According to last week’s data released by China’s Statistics department, despite world’s economic growth slow down due to Covid-19 pandemic, China’s economy grew a record 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021, one of the best so far globally and the biggest jump in the last three decades.

Steady economic growth seen in China has enabled the country to carry out what is now the world’s most successful poverty-alleviation program. Indeed, China’s extreme poverty numbers declined in a short time from 66.3% in 1990 to just 0.3 percent in 2018. In February 2021, CPC’s Central Committee Secretary General, Xi Jinping, broke the good news that China had completely eliminated extreme poverty, a development that was lauded by several world leaders as a great achievement.

Another intriguing achievement is how CPC has managed to build a State capable of protecting and governing her huge population of 1.4 billion people peacefully for 72 years. CPC has presided over possibly the longest period of general peace and stability in China’s modern history. Today, China boasts of a empowered huge population with a huge economy and political stability which has enabled Beijing to have a greater say in global affairs – oftentimes standing by almost all developing countries. It is now an open secret that Beijing is playing an increasingly visible role in the international arena; in key areas like promoting Public Health, Peacekeeping efforts, promotion of trade and technology among others. Under the leadership of CPC, China has also come up with projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Forum on China-Africa Cooperation all which symbolizes China’s readiness and desire to play a bigger role in global affairs for good of mankind.

In many ways, CPC’s achievements and consequently China’s rise have greatly and positively contributed to African countries and the continent at large. It can be recalled that since its inception, CPC stood shoulder to shoulder with African countries especially while fighting colonial bondage. Indeed, since the famous 1955 Bandug conference, the party provided ideological, material and moral support to different African liberation movements. African Countries returned the favour in kind by supporting China to gain a seat in United Nations in 1971 and many of African countries to date are committed to China’s One-China policy.

Due to continued good relations between China and African countries, the two sides agreed to start Forum for China-Africa Cooperation which has provided an official and effective platform for cooperation between China and African countries on bases of Mutual respect and benefits. Consequently, China is Africa’s biggest trading partner with trade between the two reaching over $208 billion as of 2019. Beijing is also Africa’s biggest bilateral creditor which has helped several African countries to finance their much-needed infrastructure projects which analysts view as catalysts for social and economic development.

Indeed, China invested $25 billion in Africa’s infrastructure; helping almost all African countries’ communication, energy, transport, water and sanitation sectors in the year 2018. Both International Monitory Fund and World Bank’s 2019 reports credited the continent’s rapid economic growth since early 1990’s to China’s infrastructure assistance.

Arguably, China is not just a diplomatic ally to African countries, neither should the relations between the two sides be viewed only from the angle of China providing economic and development assistance alone. In many ways, China is a role model and many African countries have a lot to learn from the country’s ruling party CPC and the country in general. Firstly, the party – CPC has presided over and maintained economic growth levels for the country at the same time building strong state institutions and hence, effective governance and stability of the country. The two points; effective governance and stability have largely been elusive in most African countries. It can be recalled that three decades ago, the level of development in China was equal to that in Africa. For example, in 1978, Sub-Saharan African countries GDP averaged at $490 while that of China was about $156. However, China has now transformed itself and emerged as a global economic powerhouse while Africa remains the least developed continent in the world.

The other important lesson African countries can borrow or learn from China and its ruling party is the centrality of historical contingency which is glaring especially success of economic and social policies in the country. When we critically analyse its development process, despite the fact that China borrowed some foreign models and experiences, Beijing did not just transplant these ideas but rather, its economic policies are in many ways tailored to meet the country’s cultural, geographical, historical, and political conditions.

Another key lesson African Countries can learn is that China has demonstrated how pragmatism not dogmatism should govern the choice of policies any country that aspires to develop should embrace. While many of African countries are still struggling to fight and eradicate poverty, China’s poverty eradication polices have helped Beijing to eliminate extreme poverty. Therefore, China’s political model is something Africa as a continent we can learn from. While CPS ensures democracy at the grassroot level in China to ensure people have a say in the decisions that affect their lives and how they are governed locally; meritocracy is always key at the top level which helps in ensuring that China is governed by not just competent individuals with a firm grasp of economics, international relations and science and technology, which helps them to make not just correct but nation saving decisions for the country. This system also ensures continuity in politics which is good for policy consistency.

It can be argued that it is a result of meritocratic recruitment that China has been able to deal with the problem of corruption, a vice analysts attribute to African country’s stagnation. Also, emphasis of discipline among party leadership and membership cannot be ignored while analysing reasons behind China’s rise.

In conclusion, aware that it is not always easy to predict the future, one can argue that as CPC prepares to celebrate its 1st century, it remains to be seen what the next century will look like for this mighty party and the world at large. Whereas CPC started its first century as an obscure and arguably a loosely coordinated Communist Movement, it is starting its second century at a time when the country it presides over, Peoples Republic of China, is a global trailblazer and a potential superpower-in-waiting.

As of now, from security social and economic perspective, China’s future is fully secured-matching towards achieving Beijing’s dreams. No matter the challenges such as mistrust from some Western countries and a few of their allies and conflicting regional interests among her neighbours, China under CPC leadership has proved resilience to emerge victorious in dealing with sensitive issues.


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