Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and the African Union

Other than the now seemingly permanent task of fire fighting and peacekeeping, the African Union (AU) is currently engaging in a historic task: Developing Africa’s Agenda 2063, along the vision of a united and strong Africa, through a process that seeks to involve the ordinary African Mwananchi.( Check )
Having a fifty year Agenda for Africa is indeed very important, especially now that the AU’s agenda is mostly shaped by both long running and spontaneous/organised conflicts. What sets this process apart from past AU processes is that this one particularly seeks to involve the People directly, by opening up avenues through which they can contribute their views. It is only through the involvement of the African people in the AU processes that we can begin to move the organisation closer to the African masses.
However, this noble idea is not being promoted as vigorously as is expected, which means that the eventual aim of involving the masses directly will not be achieved. At the current pace, it is the same bureaucrats, NGOs etc that will get involved the most.....(at least ordinary Panafricanist  Wananchis like me who independently follow the AU  will have a chance to contribute!)
One would expect that the ‘Agenda 2063’ would receive enough publicity in every African country through the State owned media, at zero cost to the African Union, but this has not been the case. 

Dlamini Zuma.
The leadership of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is what the AU has been lacking since its makeover from the OAU.
It will be remembered that in the run up to the elections for the AU chair two years ago, she earned a lot of respect and support from Progressive Panafricanists and Africans in general, with her statements about taking the AU to the people of Africa, about the paramount importance of African Unity and integration.....she spoke like a Nkurmah-Gaddafi reincarnate.
She cemented her support when she ended the “Anglophone-Francophone” debate by stating that she “was not Anglophone. She is Zulu.”
This Anglophone-Francophone” childish debate was the only argument that Jean Ping and his supporters had been left with, >>after overseeing the imperialist bombings and ouster of President Laurent Gbagbo and our Brother Leader, Muammar Gaddafi!<<
Dr Dlamini Zuma-African Union Commission Chair
Since her election into office, she has proven that she is not some opinion-less bureaucrat, or some poster girl for the African Union, but a decisive leader by her own right, who understand her tasks as the AUC chair.
Her analysis of conflict situations in Africa have been unconcealed and on point, and all her reports on these situations are made public through the AU website. This is something that never used to happen before...and when it accidentally happened, the reports would be too diplomatic to serve any helpful purpose.

Her understanding of external interference has seen her not shying away from expressing solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, Kenya, Egypt and other places. She did not falter when a decision was made to exclude the NGOs (mostly western based) and partners from the AU summit main sittings.
(These Partners felt that since they fund the AU programs, then they had a right to attend the closed sessions! Pure insanity! It is like a man paying the house rent for a couple, and then he insists that he will participate in the “bedroom action” by this couple, since in any case, he is the one who pays the rent!)
(The claim by the NGOs that they represent the African people is also absurd, since they are non-membership organisations. If it were Trade Unions, political Parties, Churches and other membership organisations then it would have been a different matter.)
Her creative letter from the future [Agenda 2063: an e-mail from the future Presentation by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission... ] captured the imagination of uncountable African Youth in a great way, as was seen by the way it went viral on social networking sites. Through such, she is consciously combating the notion that Panafricanism is some old idea that belongs to History books.

The role of the African Union today
Many commentators have over the years described the AU as a club for the Heads of States (and now a trade union for the heads of states) and others have even called for its disbandment. It is true, that the AU has not achieved much in the last 30 years (especially on the question of African Unity and anti-imperialism), but it would be unfair to blame the AU for the numerous wars that have been erupting on the continent.
This is because the AU is not a government in itself, but is rather an organisation of states. The AUC Chair also lacks executing powers in internal matters affecting the member states, in spite of him/her being nominated and elected by those who are (mostly) elected by the African masses. (Though this does not justify the inefficiency of people like Jean Ping)
The relevance of the AU today has not been in bringing progression, but in preventing deterioration. This is manifested through AMISOM, MISCA or UNAMID, MINUSMA and other peacekeeping missions whose origins were the AU.
The AU is always resolving conflicts (both diplomatically and militarily) yet there is no space for it to prevent these conflicts.
If we take the Situation in South Sudan for instance, Dlamini Zuma gave a very good report on what led to the conflict [AUC Chairperson Report on South Sudan ]. 
So at what point was the AU supposed to intervene?
The report indicates that in July and August, President Salva Kiir dissolved, restructured and reconstituted his government where he sacked Dr Riek Machar as the Vice President, and suspended Pagan Amum, the Secretary General of SPLM, dismissed two state governors and sacked anyone who contested within the SPLM structures.
Should the AU have intervened at this point?

In September, Salva Kiir severally postponed a National Liberation Council meeting that could have dealt with matters that had not been approved by the Party’s political Bureau.
Should the AU have intervened at that point?

In November, Salva Kiir unconstitutionally dissolved all the structures of SPLM, save for the position of the Chair (his position), a matter that was highly contested.
Should the AU have intervened at this point?

In December, fighting broke out between the Dinka and the Nuer soldiers in the Presidential guard, leading to a nightlong fight. The following day, Salva Kiir stated that there was an attempted coup, and went ahead to arrest and detain several SPLM leaders.
Should the AU have intervened at this point?

Both IGAD, the AU and all the people involved could not even force Salva Kiir to release the detained SPLM leaders, a move that could have greatly weakened Riek Machar’s weight at the talks, and make it easier to find a solution that would actually have favoured Salva Kiir! Salva Kiir only agreed to the demand after thousands of civilians were killed. It is as if that was his intention!

Today, Rwanda looks quiet, but remains a potential hotspot for war. This is because the country is ruled over by a fascist dictator with a tribal regime. We all know that in Africa, most dictators don’t last forever, and where nature refuses to solve the problem, the people will rise up in arms, just like Mr. Paul Kagame himself and the Rwanda Patriotic Front did in the past.
So the questions come up again. Should the AU intervene in Rwanda during this period of repression? Should the AU intervene at the break out stage? Should it intervene, as usual, after an all out war break out?
And when it intervenes, does it just intervene to bring peace, or also to bring justice? ... Who decides when and how to intervene? Shouldn't the AU take sides in clear cut conflicts?

Western Sahara
Unlike in most situations where the lines are blurred, the African Union has not only been a big failure but also a big embarrassment when it comes to the case of Morocco’s colonisation of Western Sahara.

Even though the OAU admitted Western Sahara as a member in 1981; and even though Western Sahara Republic was a founding member of the AU in 2002, the people of Western Sahara are still living under the terror of the Moroccan colonialism, or are living in refugee camps outside their country. A referendum that was supposed to be held over 20 years ago is still being delayed thanks to Morocco’s campaigns at the UNSC.
The AU has been reduced to writing resolutions and reports (just like some small organisation) in a matter where diplomacy and waiting has failed, while repression and exploitation prevails.
Can’t the AU give a timed ultimatum for the referendum?
Can’t the AU send a ‘referendum enforcing’ Intervention Brigade Forces to Western Sahara?
Is the AU saying that it cannot contain one African country?

Tasks for Dr. Dlamini Zuma
Other than the immediate and most important task of pushing for the end of colonisation and occupation in Western Sahara by all necessary means (especially by use of force),
the AU chair should intensify her calls for the Unity of the African people, and the integration of Africa.
She should speak directly to the Workers, Peasants and African masses on the need for them to unite, and reject imperialism. She should intensify the planting of Panafricanism in the hearts of the Youth and children of Africa.
What she lacks in mandate, she should recover with direct propaganda to the African masses.
She must refuse to be a bureaucrat and be the politician and progressive that she is.

Benedict Wachira
19th March 2014

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