Godrich Gardee: The EFF’s policy on borders is about restoring African unity and removing the shackles of colonialism

Former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee. Picture: Facebook

Former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee. Picture: Facebook

Published May 24, 2024


The Economic Freedom Fighters have long championed the vision of a borderless Africa, a position often misrepresented and misunderstood by both domestic and international critics.

The EFF's proposal is not merely about dismantling the artificial borders imposed by colonial powers but is a call to restore Africa to its original state of interconnectedness and unity. By doing so, the continent can collectively harness its potential and assert its rightful place on the global stage.

This vision aligns closely with the objectives of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which seeks to facilitate the free movement of people, goods, and services across African countries, promoting economic growth and integration.

Historically, Africa was a tapestry of kingdoms and empires, each with its own boundaries rather than borders. These boundaries were fluid, allowing for trade, cultural exchange, and movement of people.

The introduction of rigid borders by the 1884/5 Berlin Conference was a strategic move by imperialist powers to divide the continent and exploit its resources without conflict among themselves.

These imposed borders have since contributed to numerous socio-economic and political challenges, pitting Africans against each other to protect these arbitrary lines.

The EFF's advocacy for a borderless Africa is a call to dismantle these colonial legacies and foster a sense of unity and common purpose among African nations. The notion of having a single African passport, as proposed by the EFF, would not only facilitate easier movement across the continent but also ensure that everyone is documented.

This counters the misleading narrative that the EFF supports illegal and undocumented immigration. On the contrary, the EFF's vision emphasises the importance of documentation to maintain security and accountability.

Comparisons can be drawn with other regions that have successfully implemented policies of free movement. The United States, for instance, has no internal borders between its states, allowing for the free movement of people and goods, which has significantly contributed to its economic growth.

Similarly, the Schengen Area in Europe allows for passport-free travel among its member countries, fostering economic integration and growth.

These examples illustrate the potential benefits of a borderless Africa, where the free movement of people could lead to increased economic activity, innovation, and cultural exchange.

The AfCFTA agreement, which aims to create a single continental market, is a step towards this vision. By reducing trade barriers and allowing for the free movement of people and goods, the AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade, stimulate economic growth, and reduce poverty.

The EFF's borderless Africa policy complements the AfCFTA by advocating for the removal of one of the biggest barriers to integration: the borders themselves.

Economic benefits of such integration are manifold. Firstly, it would create a larger market for African goods and services, fostering competition and innovation.

Businesses would have access to a broader customer base, and consumers would benefit from a greater variety of products at competitive prices.

Secondly, it would facilitate the movement of labour, allowing skilled workers to move to areas where they are needed most, addressing skills shortages and reducing unemployment.

This mobility would also enable the transfer of knowledge and skills across the continent, contributing to overall economic development.

Moreover, a borderless Africa would enhance tourism, one of the key strategies of the EFF for economic growth. Easier travel within the continent would attract more tourists, both from within Africa and internationally, boosting the tourism sector and creating jobs.

The cultural diversity and natural beauty of Africa are significant assets that can be leveraged to attract tourists, but this potential is currently hindered by visa restrictions and travel barriers.

Industrialisation is another pillar of the EFF's economic strategy. By promoting the free movement of people, a borderless Africa would facilitate the establishment of regional value chains and industrial clusters.

Countries could specialise in different stages of production, benefiting from economies of scale and increasing efficiency. This would attract investment, create jobs, and drive economic growth across the continent.

Furthermore, eliminating borders would address one of the root causes of migration: economic disparity. By fostering economic development in all regions of Africa, the push factors that drive people to leave their home countries would be mitigated. People would have more opportunities and better living conditions in their own countries, reducing the need for irregular migration.

The EFF's vision also emphasises the importance of addressing afro-phobia, a prejudice against fellow Africans that is often fuelled by economic competition and misinformation.

Critics of the EFF's policy often focus on African migrants in South Africa, ignoring the contributions of migrants from other nationalities. By promoting unity and integration, the EFF aims to change this narrative and foster a sense of solidarity among Africans.

In conclusion, the EFF's borderless Africa policy, when viewed through the lens of the AfCFTA, offers a compelling vision for the continent's future. It seeks to dismantle the artificial borders imposed by colonial powers and restore Africa's original interconnectedness.

This policy promises significant economic benefits, including increased trade, labour mobility, tourism, and industrialisation. By fostering unity and economic development, a borderless Africa could address the root causes of migration and create a more prosperous and integrated continent.

It is a vision that challenges the status quo and offers a hopeful future for Africa and its people. Importantly a borderless Africa must be understood to be a very crucial project to decolonise Africa.

* Godrich Gardee is the former secretary general of the EFF. He is currently the head of international relations at the EFF.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.

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