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Friday 14 June 2013

Fr Kizito: African Solutions to African Problems?

Sadly, the celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of the African Union (AU), under the banner of the "African Renaissance", have been transformed into a showcase of the worst of the continent's political developments. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) has its origin in the struggle for decolonization and took final shape in Addis Ababa in 1963. Since 2002, after a strong diplomatic intervention and influenced by the late wealthy Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, OAU was renamed the African Union (AU).

The recently concluded 5oth anniversary celebrations were attended by 54 African heads of state and government. Among those in attendance were Presidents Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, both indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity. There were a number of other unsavory characters, such as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power for more than three decades, and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, who is accused by the United Nations to have supported the criminal activities of M23 rebels in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. The celebrations, with about 15,000 visitors, were held in the grand new headquarters of the AU, which dominates the Ethiopian capital, built by the Chinese government at a cost of US$200 million.

In the general meeting, the Ugandan foreign minister, Sam Kuteesa, filed a motion asking the member states to support the withdrawal of the ICC cases against the president Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, arguing that the allegations are based on falsehoods. At the same time, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, sought assurances that President Kenyatta would not be humiliated when he travels to The Hague for the opening of his trial scheduled for July 9, claiming he had information Kenyatta would be detained if he sets foot in the court.

While Museveni was busy making these complaints, in Uganda there is an ongoing brutal repression against the opposition accusing the president, in power for almost thirty years, to maneuver to get succeed by his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

In the wake of the rhetoric of respect for national sovereignty of African countries, the Zambian president, Michael Sata, has called for the Kenyans to solve their problems, saying, "Where was the Hague, when Africa was fighting for its independence? If a president of Kenya or Zambia is guilty, it should be the people of Kenya and Zambia to judge, not The Hague. He conveniently forgot that Kenya took itself to The Hague.

Finally, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has accused the ICC of "racial discrimination" stating that at the time of its creation the purpose of the ICC was to avoid all forms of impunity, but now those good intentions have degenerated with  " 99% of the Hague defendants being African, and this is sufficient to show that something is wrong.”

Inevitably, political commentators have pointed out that Africa's problems are more serious personal problems and power of some African presidents and the presidents instead to protect themselves; they should retain the commitment made as part of a voluntary system "peer review" to ensure that their administrations adhere to democratic principles and good Governance.

"African solutions to African problems" is the mantra constantly repeated by members of the bloated bureaucracy of the AU, but the problems are solved just little. The AU is rather the public of the continent, where a civil society exists, the best illustration of the proverb that says, "You never stop to eat the meat of an elephant."

There is need for African-realism, that is, you have to look at the many, many Africans who were not invited to the celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary and who work hard every day to grow and to enforce its rights and those of others.

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