Thursday, July 3, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
July 2, 2008

There are hate mails flying all over the internet warning me and I presume other critics of Mugabe regime that we should never dare visit Zimbabwe. Our only crime has been to point out the atrocities inflicted on Zimbabweans by Robert Mugabe’s regime.

However, my biggest disappointment this week was with the callous behavior of the African leaders that gathered in Egypt. They paid little attention to the plight of Zimbabweans and the future of democracy in this continent. For the AU Summit to have succumbed to Mugabe’s threats to admit him to the summit was as mind boggling as it was obnoxious!

In many ways, the Egyptian Summit was a disaster. Nothing tangible came out of it. It was another wasteful week of the plunder of public resources across the continent. If that was not so, business would have been serious enough to put Kibaki, Mbeki and Mugabe on the spot for bungling their national elections and failing to stall xenophobia that culminated in uncalled for loss of lives, property and displacement of their people. Instead, President Kibaki was praised for resolving the crisis in Kenya while Mugabe was allowed to address the gathering! There was no mention of xenophobia killings in South Africa that was world news most of April and May 2008!

A friend who travelled from Maputo for the Mozambique APRM review had to cut short his trip on realizing that his country’s review had been postponed to another date for lack of time! The question that begs answers is: Is governance not a priority issue for the AU Summits?

Before Mugabe left Harare for Egypt after being hurriedly sworn in, in one of the most flawed electoral processes, he dared any African leader to point accusing fingers at him at the summit. He travelled to Egypt ostensibly to forestall the continent’s revolt against him. He was well aware that few leaders in the continent could claim to be better than him. He admitted his fingers were dirty but was equally aware of other dirty fingers that might be pointed at him.

Armed with this information, he invoked Jesus Christ’s line when he confronted the Jews who were baying for the blood of a woman who had been caught committing adultery. When he asked any among the crowd who had never committed the same sin to throw the first stone, they all melted away in shame. It dawned on them that they were all guilty of the crime they were ready to punish.

Six years ago, the AU made some history by developing governance rules that the continent would hence forth use to counsel and moderate its errant despots. There was concern all over the continent that all was not well and African leaders were getting tired of continued bashing from the so called development partners that persistently pointed accusing fingers at their poor governance records in the areas of politics, human rights, service delivery and better management of their economies and national resources.

Based on this initiative, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) was born and a governance programme known as the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was established.

The protocols of the APRM are very clear to those heads of state who append their signatures to it. They volunteer to be reviewed by their peers after a vigorous assessment process which start with internal assessment that culminates into an external review by a panel of eminent Africans.

This is the process that has seen countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Algiers, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and Benin go through the continental review body by no less than African leaders themselves. It is meant to improve governance in Africa and to weed out despots from the continent.

It is therefore disheartening to see countries such as Kenya and South Africa plunge into turmoil after going through such a process precisely for the very issues that their reports have labeled as overarching. If African countries can sit at a table, be reviewed by their peers but later fail to heed warning signs on their governance records, where will Africa turn to for salvation? Is it any wonder that Robert Mugabe was in Egypt as if nothing had happened back home?

Are NEPAD and APRM bound to fail like all those other initiatives in Africa? Is the West right in forever predicting that nothing good will ever come from Africa?


Anonymous said...
January 7, 2009 at 1:43 AM  

Thanks Alot for the great post

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