Friday, July 30, 2010



Time for the AU to walk the talk
Thursday, 22nd July, 2010
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EDITOR—Africa tops the world in all the negative indices of development, although some are exaggerated by the imperial world. Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo take the cake.

If you draw a line on the African map linking Mogadishu, Khartoum and Kinshasa, you will get a perfect parallelogram of conflicts. It is no coincidence, therefore, that there are three cities on the continent in which the only functioning stimulus for development is piracy and banditry!

What concrete measures will the African Union (AU) SUMMIT in Kampala put across to address these? The non-interference clAUse to sovereign states was removed from the OAU Charter as it became the Constitutive Act of African Union. In other words, states can now intervene in other countries’ affairs to stem these conflicts. Is it possible therefore, for African leaders to meet in Darfur or Somalia to stem these crises and accelerate the continental union?

Since the coming into effect of the Constitutive Act of African Union, the OAUtransformed into the AU which was lAUnched in July 2002. South Africa volunteered to provide the home for the New Partnership for African development (NEPAD), but as I write this, NEPAD has never constructed even a toilet on this continent!
It is not enough to just criticise and do nothing. Instead, we should try and light the candle to make the darkness disappear.

But our leaders are the ones hesitant to light the candles they hold, so darkness continues. The AU agreed to deploy troops in Somalia, but up to now it is only Uganda and Burundi in Somalia. The al-Shabaab operating in lawless Somalia are now claiming to have planted bombs that killed 76 people and injured many others in Kampala. Why can’t we as a united Africa finish them off? I will not be surprised when we start debating first-tracking the AU as opposed to the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) like ECOWAS, EAC, and SADC. In 2007, Ethiopia due to increased pressure withdrew its troops from Somalia. Subsequent to this, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa promised to send troops under the AUspices of the African Union Mission (AMISOM) in Somalia, but up to now nothing has materialized.

The 15th African Union SUMMIT in Kampala, like the previous ones on the continent, crafted a good theme and leaders will have to debate issues about maternal and infant mortality rates but what we need is to turn these millennium development “dreams” into reality. We can never develop any part of this continent without security. It is like dreaming of going to heaven before you die. Africa should stop being a lame duck or a crime child of the world. We must walk the talk. We can never afford to be backward any more. Most of the reports in the media and commentaries about Africa from the profitable multi-billion industry of pessimism forecast that nothing good comes out of the “dark continent”. We Africans are constantly reminded that we should take charge of our destiny and stop blaming slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, decolonisation or globalisation for our conditions.

Yet whenever any initiative emanates from us to face these challenges they are dismissed by the West as either unrealistic or having a hidden agenda of someone who is out to “manipulate” ignorant Africans. African leaders have to be more relevant on specific questions otherwise we will continue to be the lAUghing stock of the world. African leaders should concentrate on resolving the Darfur crisis, Somalia insurgency and other areas that are threatened by insecurity or disorder. As Kwame Nkrumah put it, “Backwards never forward forever”. Amen.

Stephen Asiimwe.