The African Union has become irrelevant

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Febuary 2, 2012

Robert Mugabe has called the African Union a toothless bulldog.
I believe everyone knew that, like SADC, the AU is nothing more than a talk shop where African leaders gather to preen their egos and waste money that should be going to development programmes.
Mugabe’s criticism of the AU, however, comes in the wake of the AU not discussing Zimbabwe at their Summit.
Another African Union Summit has ended and the organisation does not have anything to crow about.
It refused to discuss the Zimbabwean issue.
Apart from internal administrative meetings, the AU has not offered anything to Africa and the continent is certainly not waiting for the AU to address its numerous problems.
Just look at Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Swaziland, DR Congo, Somalia, Sudan, etc.
Look at the continuing upheavals in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.
It is beyond me that an organisation that purports to champion causes of the African people can meet and ignore simmering disputes in its area of jurisdiction.
If Zimbabwe is not an issue for the African Union, then what is?
With all the ongoing violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, the country was not even on the AU agenda.
So what are the AU’s priorities?
For many years, there have been countries that the world, including that omnipotent organisation, the United Nations, viewed as oppressive, dictatorial and seriously devoid of the smallest spec of democratic intent.
Among such countries are Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Even today, these countries have no semblance of what a free, democratic society should be like.
One of the panels, councils or commissions the United Nations established was the United Nations Panel on Human Rights.
The purpose of this particular panel was that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.
The UN says the General Assembly “can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council/panel member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights…”
It, therefore, came as a surprise when, in 2006, the United Nations appointed, to this panel, the world’s worst human rights abusers: Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia, undemocratic countries that have always been in the forefront of human rights violations.
Imagine a country, or even an individual, approaching any one of these countries, seeking justice or redress over a human rights violation perpetrated against them!
This was a sick joke that the United Nations played on the world.
And, of course, Zimbabwe welcomed these nations to be arbiters and monitors of democracy because Robert Mugabe knew that none of the countries had a better human rights record than him.
Countries with terrible rights records protected each other from condemnation.
How could Cuba, for example, denounce Angola, a country where Cubans fought in support of the abusive government?
How could Russia condemn Cuba and Angola, countries that have numerous graves of those Russians who died in support of these human rights abusers?
To this day, they are still bosom buddies.
This expensive and ridiculous joke was later re-created by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) when it made Swaziland’s Mswati III the Chairperson of the so-called Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
What stupidity!
SADC, of all organisations, knew that Mswati was abusing the Swazi people, even to the extent of sitting in a chair salivating at naked school girls one of whom he would pick, instantly turning the poor child into a wife.
SADC is very aware of Mswati’s crackdown on opposition political parties and of the ban on politics in Swaziland.
And they had to put this man in charge of monitoring the politics in Zimbabwe!
The AU is not serving the interests of the continent and should shed the image of accommodating dictators at the expense of the abused people.
Zimbabwe is, once again, a ticking time bomb because of Zuma’s laxity and lack of resolve.
Yet Zimbabwe offers the AU an opportunity to earn credibility by being serious at solving this long running problem.
The AU should start being a serious results-oriented organisation; it cannot continue wasting time, wasting lives.
Mugabe still dreams of and misses Gaddafi; he fears he might go the same way.
“Well, well,” he said at the AU Summit in Ethiopia the other day. “That was Libya. Who will be next?”
I want to allay Mugabe’s fears.
Mugabe need not fear NATO; we have no relationship of any kind with NATO.
We have no oil or anything that is strategically important to America and Europe.
We are just ordinary; America and Europe are not interested in human suffering but in what they can get out of any situation.
We, in Zimbabwe, will not see NATO’s latest planes; we will see the latest avalanche of Non Governmental Organisations screaming about human rights, property rights, gay rights, and a horde of useless issues that have absolutely nothing to do with the emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe.
We have no relationship with NATO because we do not have anything that NATO wants. The North African Arabs are the ones who have always cosied up to Europe and the Americans, betraying our continent in the process.
The AU’s anthem is ‘Let us all unite and celebrate together’.
Fiddlesticks!
Was there ever anything to celebrate at the AU and what unity has the AU ever shown?
Personal friendships are used to formulate and adopt policies.
SADC is not united, as the issues of Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Swaziland and Mauritius demonstrate.
The AU is not united as the issue of Libya continues to demonstrate.
Morocco does not even belong to the AU; but uses our continent as a springboard to pursue membership in the European Union.
Libya, Egypt and other countries up north belong to the Arab League, which is not African, and they have stronger ties with groupings outside Africa than within. Their presence and participation in the African Union is more symbolic than substantive.
They are not African; they are occupiers who feel they belong elsewhere other than in Africa.
We do not know what the AU Summit was about; we do not know what they achieved.
The AU is an embarrassment.
The AU is a useless tribalistic grouping of expensive non-essential technocrats who, in all honesty, exist to cover up what those in power are doing.
Because of what is considered to be its economic muscle, South Africa is bullying and dominating Africa yet South Africa has Africa’s dullest leaders who have no vision.
So far, South Africa has not done anything for Africa, nothing at all except for itself and yet South African President, Jacob Zuma, is so abusive of Africa that he can put forward his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as candidate for the post of AU Commission Chairperson.
Given South Africa’s record as a reactionary, what good would come Africa’s way when a South African sits in the highest AU chair?
Meanwhile, the AU is tribally divided between English and French speaking countries causing a stalemate in the election of an AU Commission Chairperson.
Jean Ping, a Sino-Gabonese, failed to win the election when he ran alone.
This is Africa. These are the people who are supposed to guide our continent forward.
So, you see, this is how the AU can exist with Zimbabwe’s mess.
This is how the AU can exist with Somalia.
This is how the AU exists with Swaziland, DR Congo, Uganda, Sudan and all the trouble spots in Africa.
The heart of the matter is that unless and until African people, minus the Arabs up north, decide to liberate themselves, Africa is going to remain the playing ground of political morons.
Africa needs a new generation of leaders.
We in Africa have a mission; we, in Zimbabwe, are on a crusade.
We are trying our best to shake off the shackles of oppression yet there are those from outside our borders who assist our oppressors.
Is Africa Zimbabwe’s enemy?
Are Africans against Zimbabwean’s emancipation?
The African Union does not need Jean Ping; the African Union does not need another Zuma.
The African Union, like Africa itself, needs a new generation of forward-looking leadership.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Thursday, February 2nd, 2012.



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