Obama, Mccain: What’s in it for Africa?

obama_mccain.jpgIn four weeks the U.S will have a new Commander-in-Chief. The battle lines have been drawn between the Republicans and Democrats represented by war hero John McCain and Senator Barack Obama respectively. A new administration is coming, how well will these men handle the African agenda?
Can we safely assume that Obama will prioritise Africa because of his African roots? On the other hand, McCain’s Republican Party sponsored legislation in recent years to promote jobs and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Oscar Kimanuka a Social Commentator based in Kigali writing in the East African said, “What is in it for Africa? To arrive at a fair assessment, we should acknowledge two political realities. First, foreign policy does not matter to most Americans, moreso at a time when the US economy is under siege.
Second, the two presidential candidates are saying almost nothing about Africa.”
Other commentators have been blunt on their comments on how the two candidates must view Africa, “If the United States takes a narrow view of Africa, as a recipient of charity, a place to pump oil, and an arena for fighting terrorists, then African hopes being evoked by the Obama candidacy will almost certainly be disappointed.
If, however, the United States takes a long view, understanding that its security depends on the human security of Africans, then there are real prospects for a new era of collaboration and good will,” wrote Marle Bowen and William Minter in a commentary published in Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.
It is said that in the 2000 presidential campaigns in the US, President Bush mentioned Africa three times. In each case, he responded to similar questions by declaring that the US armed forces should not have been used to quell the 1994 genocide in Rwanda because it did not “fit into the national strategic interests of the United States.
During President Bill Clinton’s term, the extraordinary amount of personal attention paid to Africa created the impression that African interests would be much better served.To his credit, we have the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, a fairly modest programme for trade enhancement that allowed Africa a piece of the US textile market.
Whether Mc Cain or Obama wins the next election, not much is likely to change in terms of making Africa matter to the US.
But for both, the election will be historic. For John Mc Cain, it will be a triumph for the Republicans to win a third term and for Barack Obama, it will be the fulfilment of the American dream, and yes it will be the triumph of “change” over the status quo.

By Samuel Mungadze

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  1. Are you kidding? Neither has said much about Africa? Look at Obama’s website. I have to ask how he plans to run Africa and the U.S. I am sorry but your country’s problems are not going to be resolved with billions in aid. Until the tribal hatred and warfare stops; until you come into this century and teach your citizens, e.g., that female genital mutilation is not OK and brothers do not have the right sleep with their dead brother’s wives, then you are going to be destined to be in the bad shape you are.

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