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UNION OF AFRICA HAS BEEN FAILED BY THE WESTERN INTERFERENCE byActivist Without Borders-Godfrey MfitiThroughout its five decades of existence, the Organization of African Unity was criticizedfor its unwavering commitment to state sovereignty, regardless of the actions taken byruthless dictators like Uganda’s Idi Amin and Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko among the fewdictators who have butchered their own citizens.Upon efforts to prove unity the organisation attempted to form the United States of Africawith a single head of state in 2002.A proposal was made to have a supreme law for allAfrican states.The significance of the Constitutive Act as the supreme law of theContinent, approved by all parliaments of the people of Africa, in meeting the challengesfacing Africa today was emphasised at the public launch of the AU." This Act represented a moment of hope for our Continent and its peoples, anunequivocal commitment to African Unity."Thambo Mbeko-Fomer President of SouthAfrica wrote on his website.Indeed if the African Union was to adopt a supreme law,respected by all its memberstates and ratified in their respective parliaments a dream would be realised.However,intheir respective states,African member governments have failed to respect their ownconstitutions and the rule of law.As the African Union celebrates its 50th anniversary ,Mugabe, 88, warned that Africansare not as united as was expected by the founders of the AUs predecessor, theOrganisation of African Unity, half a century ago.To echo his words,Pan-Africanism iscrucial for our development on the continent and for the restoration of the dignity ofAfrica.The founding father of the AU,Kwame Nkrumah said: "as long as we are divided bynation states, we will be faced with internal conflicts, we will be threatened witheconomic marginalisation as we are now, and most importantly we will be threatenedwith lack of self-confidence and belief, and lack of the ability to solve our own problems."In 1963, expounding his vision regarding the Organisation of African Unity KwameNkrumah declared, “Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involvedstruggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct oursociety according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonial controls and interference".Kwame Nkrumah had a vision of a United Africa,self reliant,independent from anywestern or eastern influence into its internal affairs.As we cerebrate the Golden Jubeleelet us take stock of the developements in the last five decades.Some observers think theinterference of western countries into African affairs is failing the Union of Africa.President Mugabe,a veteran leader of Zimbabwe argues that:"We really have notbecome integrated as an African people into a real union," he said. "And this is the worry,which my brother has, and the worry I have; the worry perhaps others also have. Thatwe are not yet at that stage which was foretold by our fathers when they created thisorganisation."Imagine a United States of Africa (USA)spanning Cape Town and Cairo as wasproposed by Gaddafi in 1999 as a way of ending the continents conflicts and defying thewest.The idea failed to secure enough support from his African counterparts. ColonnelGaddafi had a dream of a single railway line from Capetown to Cairo where Africancitizens would travel without a passport inot any African country using a single currencybacked by gold.
One wonders whether,western powers were happy with this proposed unification ofAfrican states.Colonnel Gaddafi invested in Africa more than any other leader in therecent history of Africas coming into political independence.This angered Americansand Europeans who need access to the mineral resources in Africa for them to remainviable powers in the 21st century.Observers say implementing that vision would changethe world power equation and threaten Western hegemony. In response, the UnitedStates and its NATO partners determined “Gadhafi must go,” and assumed the role ofjudge, jury and executioner.In February,2009,Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to pursue his vision of aUnited States of Africa, in his inaugural address as the new chairman of the AfricanUnion.Col Gaddafi was elected by the heads of state of the 53-member union behind closeddoors at a summit in Ethiopia.Wearing a golden brocade robe and cap, Col Gaddafi satwith the traditional African leaders who accompanied him at the front of the room, ratherthan in the seat for the Libyan delegate."I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United Statesof Africa," he said in his inaugural speech.The AU normally relies on consensus in reaching decisions, but Col Gaddafi introducedwhat he described as the Islamic concept that "silence is approval,"Under this principle,at least two-thirds of AU leaders would have to actively oppose Col Gaddafis proposals,rather than simply ignoring his ideas.On 29th August,2008,prior to the summit he had invited a group of 200 traditionalleaders name him the "king of kings" of Africa.This notion of Gaddafi towards the leadership of the African Union became a threat toother African leaders who later opposed the idea of unification of Africa.South Africamade it clear that formation of United States of Africa was not their focus whereasZimbabwes President Robert Mugabe could not bear having a supreme authority overhis territory.Efforts by Colonnel Gaddafi to form the United States of Africa dates back to 1999.Thefact that between 1999 and 2002 the Constitutive Act of the African Union was writtenand ratified is now history, and Gaddafi deserves credit for his leadership on this.Upon his death,the AU lost its most avid financial backer. It is estimated that roughly 15percent of the AU operating budget provided by member states came from Libya, inaddition to Tripoli’s covering of dues for a number of smaller African countries in arrears.However, serving as chairman of the African Union, Gaddafi contravened the AfricanCommission on Human and People’s Rights. There was the execution of Africanmigrants in Libya, and putting many on death row in Libya. Indeed, Gaddafi’s tenure aschair of the AU represented a low period for African progressives. His rambling andundisciplined presentation at the United Nations in 2009 was a poor reflection on Africa.But his presence in the USA was a result of a new alliance between the oil barons in theUSA and the Libyan government. After the French government mooted theestablishment of the Mediterranean Union to counter the United States in Africa,sections of the US ruling circles started to court Gaddafi. Since the visit of CondoleezzaRice to Tripoli, Gaddafi had been silent in his opposition to AFRICOM. In May 2006 TimeMagazine said that George W. Bush and Gaddafi see ‘eye to eye.Some observers argue that Colonnel Gaddafi failed the progression of the African Unionwhile others think the term of office for leadership of the African Union is too short to
measure meaningful impact of success.Later ,Gaddafi exposed himself very clearly when he called for the division of Nigeriaalong religious lines. Progressive Pan-Africanists condemned this statement and joinedwith the Nigerian people who reject this call for division. Nigerian youths andprogressives will work to end religious, regional and ethnic manipulations. Religion,ethnicity and regional ideologies are not in themselves political factors. They become soin circumstances where the people’s forces are weakened. The call by Gaddafi is for theweakening of the people’s forces in Nigeria at precisely a moment when Nigeria shouldbe building unity, peace and reconstruction was a serious set-back.Such kind of behaviour from Colonnel Gaddafi showed loss of direction in the AfricanUnion,since westerners and most African states regarded him as a confusionist.Africa is noted for its respect of notorious leaders,Gaddafis defiance dates back morethan three decades back when he became the friend of the worst dictators. Hisrelationship with Idi Amin, whose regime murdered more than 300,000, stands out inthis regard. The Libyan Arab Bank financed the ventures of Idi Amin’s henchmen and theLibyan army fought alongside Idi Amin’s army when Amin invaded Tanzania in 1978.This attack on Tanzania was an effort by Amin to divert attention from the struggleagainst apartheid and colonialism in Rhodesia and South Africa.Some commentators belive Gaddafi is not to blame for the failure of progress in theformation of United States of Africa but western powers failed Africa.On 31 January 2010, Ngwazi Dr.Bingu wa Mutharika replaced Muammar al-Gaddafi aschairperson of the African Union after Gaddafis attempt to run as the African Unionchairperson for an additional year failed. Mutharika was Malawis first head of state toassume the position of chairperson. In his acceptance speech he said that "Africa is nota poor continent, but the African population are poor" and called for "Africa to developAfrica".He shared his vision for the African Food Basket Initiative by making food security apriority in his agenda.If the term of office at AU was longer some quarters believe that such leaders likeMutharika would have transformed and progressed the African Unions agenda.TheAmerican government was happy to see Gaddafi out of the leadership of the AfricanUnion.In congratulating the election of Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika as Chairperson of theAfrican Union the USA government released a statement which in part reads:"The United States will continue to work with the African Union to confront ongoingstability challenges in Guinea, Niger, and Madagascar and to further peace andreconciliation in Somalia, Darfur, Zimbabwe and the eastern Democratic Republic of theCongo. We also hope to work closely with our African partners to confront the scourge ofsexual and gender-based violence on the continent and ensure the full participation ofAfrica’s women in its socio-economic development." Philip J. Crowley,AssistantSecretary, Bureau of Public Affairs (February,2010).However,President Bingu wa Mutharika failed to meet the expectations of United Statesof America when he linked up with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is wantedby the International Criminal Court on suspicion of war crimes in Darfur.Malawi planned to host Mr Bashir in October,2012 in defiance of an InternationalCriminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for him on charges of genocide in Darfur.The planfailed after the death of Mutharika in April of the same year,such that hissuccessor,President of Joyce Banda refused to host Al Bashir in Malawi after beinginflenced by the west.The AU summit was then shifted to Addis Ababa,Ethiopia.Wa Mutharika also mantained close ties with his ally Zimbabwe’s President Robert
Mugabe who is on sanctions including a travel ban to the United States of America andEurope.Some observers,therefore argue that a true African Union Leader would not berespected by member states if he becomes a puppet of the west.On the other hand conflicts in African countries are not caused by brotherly hatred butthe support from external influence from the East and West who supply ammunition inexchange of mineral resources.This would mean that western countries supporting war in Africa do not want to see itfree and self reliant.They believe aid attached with conditions is vital to have Africa apermanent dependant fo the westFor instance in 2012,upon succesfully mediating for peace in the oil rich horn of Africa ina conflict of Sudan and South Sudan,Former South African President Thabo Mbekihighlighted the need for African sovereignity.In his words,former South African President Thabo Mbeki said that Africans can solvethe numerous problems affecting the continent without giving room for externalinterference which usually comes with interests."With what we have done in Sudan, wehave demonstrated that it is possible for us to solve our problems. If we allow others tocome in they will come with their own interest and provide solutions that will serve theirown interest," he said.President Mbeki noted that of all internal African efforts to solveproblems of the continent, the one in Sudan has attracted respect for Africanleadership."Now even the UN security council cannot take any decision on this matterwithout asking the opinion of the African Union. It therefore demonstrates that we havethe capacity as Africans to take charge of our own destiny; to refuse to be marginalisedor be dictated to," he added.As we cerebrate the fifty decades of the African Union,our leaders meeting in AddisAbaba-Ethiopia should reflect on the dream of our founding fathers.The time has come when the Union of Africa can have a meaning when we see peace inDR Congo,peace in Somalia and all other African troubled states.One Africa,one destiny is possible and indeed the Union of Africa is slowly getting to itsfit by its ability to solve internal conflicts without external interference..