Experts lay foundation for SIGLA’s future
Experts in security, politics, human rights and military science lay the foundation for the future operations of Stellenbosch University’s Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (SIGLA@Stellenbosch) at its first public event, the Colloquium on Peace, Security and Governance, held today (30 November).
SIGLA aspires to be a Pan-African leadership institute that contributes toward building leadership capacity and generating knowledge resources for Africa in the areas of democracy, governance and security for sustainable development.
SIGLA is an initiative of the University’s HOPE Project, a university-wide initiative that creates solutions from science to solve some of South Africa and Africa’s most pressing challenges.
In welcoming guests to the event held at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, Prof Julian Smith, Vice-Rector: Community Interaction and Personnel at Stellenbosch University (SU), said that the University aims to match its expertise with the needs of the continent and that SIGLA can play a pivotal role in establishing strategic knowledge partnerships on the continent.
In a presentation themed Peace and Security: The Dynamics and Paradigms for Africa, Prof Hilary Inyang, the Duke Energy Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering and Science at the University of North Carolina in the USA, gave an overview of the characteristics of sustainable development and indices of good governance. Characteristics include economic development, population management, environmental and natural resources stewardship and social equity and governance. Indices of good governance, he said, are a stable peace and security, inclusive political governance and effective administration, the protection of human and organisational rights and a sound socio-economic system.
He also gave an overview of the challenges facing Africa. Thes include human rights abuses that remain at unacceptable levels; no significant progress being made in arresting economic corruption in Africa, an excessive skewness in wealth distribution; poverty and natural and technological disasters (such as desertification and water stress) that disrupt socio-economic systems.
He concluded by saying that African prosperity, peace and security can be derived from the improvement of education, research and entrepreneurship systems.
Prof Alp Özerdem, Director-elect of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at Coventry University in the UK challenged attendees on the definition of peace-building. He said that peace doesn’t necessarily bring security or prosperity and that some groups do not benefit significantly from peace-building efforts. Peace-building agents often act without a sufficient understanding of what peace would mean for those who are the recipients of these efforts.
In his presentation, Prof Ian Liebenberg of the SU Faculty of Military Science, referred to the various forms of leadership currently needed in Africa. These include visionary leadership, transformational leadership (in which leaders must deal with among others the gap between the rich and the poor) and contractual leadership in which leaders must reach out to others, even with those they differ with. The biggest challenge for African leaders over the next two to three decades, he said, is how to deal with outside influences.
Prof Andre Roux of the Institute for Future Research sketched a scenario of security and defence in Africa and said that there is a positive economic growth in SADC countries. The reason among others he said is the rejuvenation of the prices for natural resources of which China as an emerging world leader is a big buyer. The question however is whether this is sustainable. Two main issues informing the success of African governments are legitimate and effective leadership and governance based on rule of lawe and secondly the development of a diversified economy based on not only natural resources.