AFRICA needs both strong leaders and institutions to drive its agenda and the development of its people, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo have said.
The two leaders were speaking to top business people from across the continent at the just ended African CEOs Forum in Ivorian capital Abijan.
Asked whether Africa needed strong institutions or strong leaders “big man” Mnangagwa said there is need for a balance.
“Nigeria supported Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle despite the geographical distance between the two countries. This is because the country had a visionary leader. I am not sure if institutions can craft a vision but a leader can and the institutions can help with implementing the framework of that vision.
“Africa need leaders with a vision who can dream about the future of their nations,” said Mnangagwa.
The new Zimbabwean leader has been compared to former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and current Rwandese President Paul Kagame seen as strongman with economic visions for their countries. Mnangagwa said the comparison was coincidental.
“I am driven by the concrete situation in my country and the situation on the ground not by books or someone,” said Mnangagwa.
Obasanjo said the narrative of strong institutions in Africa was dropped by former U.S. President Barack Obama while visiting Ghana. He said he did not agree with Obama.
“Of course we need strong institutions that are able to serve any leader but these could be useless under a weak leader.
“Africa needs effective leaders who know what they are doing,” said Obasanjo.
The former military ruler added that Africa also needs leaders who are able to draw the best out of an international system that has become increasingly difficult to understand.
“The world may look hostile but may not be as hostile as it looks. It may also look friendly but it is not as friendly as it looks. African needs leaders who are able to get the best out of these situations for the good of their people,” he said.
Obasanjo added that African leaders are ordinarily scared of strong institutions but needed to understand that these are good for the development of the continent.