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No success until economy grows: Ramphele

Oct 04 2010 15:55 Phakamani Mvelashe

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Johannesburg - South Africa scored highly in the inaugural Ibrahim Index of African Governance, launched on Monday, and which is aimed at assessing governance across the continent.

However, index board member and respected businessperson Dr Mamphela Ramphele warned that citizens across the continent ought to enjoy the benefits of economic growth before it could truly call itself a success.

“We can’t say you are doing well when you’re poor,” Ramphele told Fin24.com. “Citizens should enjoy economic growth,” she said.

South Africa is expected to report gross domestic product (GDP) growth of about 3.5% this year, well below the 6% to 7% targeted by government and which is needed to create more employment.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which was the brainchild of Mo Ibrahim, a Sudan-born cellphone entrepreneur, ranks African countries in several criteria. These include personal safety, human development and rights, and economic activity.

Maruitus was ranked number one and Zimbabwe the worst. South Africa, which was fifth, was ranked top in public management but fared poorly in personal safety, where it came 44th out of 53 countries. This was the only category where it did not fall in the top ten.

Ramphele said that economic growth would also be affected by human rights.

“No country can sustain economic growth (while) stamping on human rights, with the exception of China,” said Ramphele. The only reason China’s growth was sustainable was its strong meritocracy. The country was also driven by massive urbanisation.

Ramphele railed against the misuse of political power. “There is a culture that political leadership is more important than others,” she said of Africa. “Look at the salary of an MP (compared to a) teacher and others.”

Safety and the rule of law declined in 35 countries, according to the report. Ramphele said safety and rule of law were important for investors.

Swaziland is now Africa’s only country where democratic elections are not held.

Ibrahim, who chairs the foundation, said: "The 2010 Ibrahim Index gives us a mixed picture about recent progress on governance across the continent.

"While many African citizens are becoming healthier and have greater access to economic opportunities than five years ago, many of them are less physically secure and less politically enfranchised."

- Fin24

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