By Sunday B. Emmanuel
My colleague from Ethiopia asked me a very humble question after a three-hour lecture on ‘Peoples Republic of China’s (PRC) Government Structure and Reform of Administrative System’ at the Chinese Academy of Governance (CAG) recently by Prof Songyan CHU.
What does Africa need to learn from China’s transformation? I said, why not?
China is the second biggest economy in the world with a persistent annual average growth rate of 9.7%, GDP of $56,884b and having the largest export volumes. But I never convinced him despite ushering him with those facts. His concern was the political conundrum; certainly what every middle-aged African would want to hear. I engaged him on the chronology of Chinese seven administrative reforms since 1982 to the recent one of 2013 in which African economies could benchmark on.
The 2013 reform goal was to build a well-structured, clean, efficient and service-oriented government that has scientifically defined functions that people are satisfied with.
Considering China’s unitary system of governance with a central government on top, under it are 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, four municipalities, 2,853 autonomous prefectures, counties and cities, 40,466 townships and street community organisations.
This structure has enabled once a socialist state to manage the 1.3 billion population far more than Africa’s 900 million people and change its identity to be called the Socialist-Market Economy.
Definitely, the unitary government of China acquires momentum from its political scenery. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) - The Party. By mere mention of government functionaries in China, every Chinese new born and a visitor will directly know/tell the one in charge – the ruling party (CCP) whose principals as enshrined in its constitution thus; Power and Leadership, Socialism, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Thought-Deng Theory and Peoples Democratic Dictatorship (Democracy to the People and Dictatorship to the enemy) reminded me of the words of my beloved grey- haired Prof Kajabago-Ka-Rusoke. Questions of who defines the enemy and who are the people remain a food for thought among the scholars and those interested to know the details.
My Ethiopian Colleague finally agreed with me on what to benchmark from china on the definition of democracy and leadership principles, but both of us remained optimistic whether such a trend can be efficient in balkanised Africa.
Africa’s understanding of Majority vote should change direction forthwith and be reminded that democracy goes hand in hand with development levels. It is development first then democracy of majority vote (if majority mean casting a vote for the president anyway).
China would be using quarter of its revenue, if all Chinese were to vote directly for President XI JINPING and perhaps African economies must be paying equal amounts for the cost of this animal –Democracy of the People. Because the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC - or Parliament) which has 2,987 representatives and with the guidance of the ruling party elect the president, who is at the same time the secretary general of the ruling party (Maybe NRM could think of this!) , the chairman of the Central Military Committee.
With such arrangement China saved part of that money that would have been lavishly spent by both ruling and seven political parties (whose existence is also guided by Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, not anyone can form a party as and when he or she dreams of one) and was able to build reserves totalling $3,200b by the end of 2011, ranked first in the world.
With these reserves, China is now subsiding agriculture, expanding social security and above all, exploring new investment all over the world with the state-owned companies; soon they will be multi-lateral and then determine the global trade trends. This is what to benchmark from China as an African country or African bloc or African region.
Interestingly, china is still benchmarking global development trends including Africa’s organisational set ups, simply to manage day to day global challenges and we must take note that what our past leaders adopted will not remain forever, the colonial days are quite different from the current trends, gone are the days of donor funds the world is focusing on business both in public and private arenas.
African Governments must revive their state-owned companies to be able to adventure global opportunities.
Chinese private companies invest where state-owned companies have made adventures like Uganda’s dream of a market-led economy as enshrined in the NRM Manifesto should be guided by the global trends determining the market forces.
The writer is the secretary general of Uganda National Farmers Federation