Saturday, January 31, 2015

Is the African Union now waking up?

Saturday, January 31, 2015
Folks, the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union  (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government currently going on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has provided two interesting developments worthy of our attention. This year’s session is on the theme “2015: Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.”
1.      AU Chairman
The Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, was elected head of the continental to replace Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in the rotational position for one year. (See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-31057151).
2.      Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF)
The African Union backs plans for a West African task force of 7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram militants. Four of Nigeria's neighbours—Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger—have agreed to contribute troops to the task force.

Speaking after AU talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Ms. Dlamini-Zuma said the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) would have an initial mandate of one year.
She said it would conduct "military operations to prevent the expansion of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups' activities and eliminate their presence".
The plan is now expected to be submitted to the UN Security Council for approval, according to a BBC report.

MY COMMENTS

Even before the news about President Mugabe’s new role sinks, Amnesty International has bared its teeth, expressing concern at the choice his choice. In a veiled message of calumny, AI is challenging Mr. Mugabe to turn attention to human rights issues on the continent, an indirect attack on his own records as far as his handling of Zimbabwe’s affairs is concerned. (See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/world/2015/January-30th/mugabes-election-causes-stir-amnesty-international-charges-him-to-address-human-rights-concerns.php#sthash.mMaqmDC2.dpuf).
Taking on Mr. Mugabe won’t solve any problem, even though human rights violations shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in the world, particularly when it comes to hardcore politics. The truth, though, is that human rights violations occur in all forms in many other parts of the world, involving even the so-called giants of democracy, which Amnesty International barely draws attention to or criticizes the way it focuses on happenings in Africa. Hypocrisy of this sort won’t wash with us.
Now, to the theme of the AU session, “2015: Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.” What is that? Africa’s Agenda 2063? Why 2063 in that far distance?
The problems facing women in Africa are known and all it will take to tackle is a firm po0litical will, commitment, and drastic changes in the habits of mind and attitude. For far too long, issues regarding women’s development or well-being in patriarchal Africa have been politicized and worsened instead of being solved. The3 structures that support discrimination against women are too firmly rooted in the system and cannot be dismantled to give women a welcome reprieve unless the men ruling the continent do better than they’ve demonstrated so far.
The only female President (Liberia’s Sirleaf Johnson) is already overshadowed and her influence is not being felt. What guarantee is there that the so-called “Africa Agenda 2063” will even be pursued with the purposeful tenacity it requires to materialize? A mere political hot air being blown by these African leaders. Charity must begin at home first. Let them in their individual capacities initiate moves in their countries to begin uplifting standards for women before spreading it to the entire continent.
There are many other issues to comment on, especially this Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram. It is difficult to accept at this early stage what exactly this military band will be able to do that the Nigerian Establishment hasn’t been able to do to date. The mandate is not yet spelt out for us to know where exactly it will be based to operate in Nigeria or whether it will have the free hand to enter Nigerian territory at will and do whatever it deems as necessary to clamp down on Boko Haram.
Funding and the issue of logistics also come up for comment. Will the AU single-handedly support this task force or go panhandling in the international community to support this cause. How long will it take for material support to be garnered and the contributing countries provide troops needed for the operations? I am concerned that the individual countries may run into difficulties (although Chad has so far proved that contributing troops to such projects shouldn’t be difficult).
Considering the various AU or United Nations military initiatives in many parts of the continent, I wonder what exactly is being aimed at. The AU has troops in Somalia and the UN has contingents in South Sudan and Mali, all pursuing an agenda to bring about peace in those volatile regions of the continent. We are even not talking about the contingents still in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia. Now, it is the turn of Nigeria. Is the AU spreading itself too thin without calculating the impact?
The explosive situation in these regions of Africa cannot be tackled with piecemeal measures or half-hearted politically motivated initiatives. That is why we will continue to blame those short-sighted African leaders in the 1960s who shot down the Great Osagyefo’s innovative advocacy for the establishment of an African High Command. A man of foresight, indeed.
We note with much anxiety that West and Central Africa have become too much of a hot bed and that goings-on there have negatively affected the people and painted a sordid picture of Africa. Why is it so, when these parts of Africa are known for their huge material and human resources that the world needs and which should by now have been used to uplift living standards but have rather become the catalysts for mayhem? None of these trouble-prone countries lack anything but effective leadership to turn things around for the good of country and citizens. Why are we in this part of the world so limited?
Now, we will see how the AU pursues its goals to give Africa a better image. It has for far too long been dormant and irrelevant. If it is now waking up from its sleep to face reality, it should do so decisively. Otherwise, it will remain the talk-shop that it has constituted itself all these years.
I shall return…
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