Former South African President Thabo Mbeki along with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. The two leaders are working on a power-sharing agreement for Zimbabwe., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Deploy Mbeki for the AU Commission Chairmanship
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 02:00
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki
I read with great interest that the Southern African Development Community is backing Dr Nkosa-zana Zuma to take over from Dr Jean Ping as the next African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson and naturally is lobbying other African countries to back her as well.
While I have a lot of respect for this outstanding lady, I also believe she may not be our best foot forward.
What is required at this stage of the AUC is inspirational leadership, a passion for the African agenda, experience with the issues at hand, knowledge and skill, clout and excellent rapport with other African and international leaders. We get all this packaged in the person of Thabo Mbeki.
I believe this is the perfect opportunity to deploy him to the AUC to reignite the African renaissance.
With Dr Jean Ping at the helm we have seen the AU behaving like a headless chicken, directionless, not focused, totally disjointed and very slow and erratic in its response to situations.
There is a palpable paucity of leadership. The vacuum created by this scenario was naturally seized by imperialist predator nations much to the disgust of all progressive Africans.
In the Ivory Coast crisis French president Nicholas Sarkozy was in charge, in Egypt it was the American military and Barack Obama who were calling the shots and on seeing this continued impotence of the AU,
NATO was emboldened to claim its own scalps in Libya. All this happened under the nose of a paralysed AU.
Throughout his tenure both as Deputy President and President of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki has been seized with the African Agenda. He spoke passionately about it and championed its cause.
I have gone through most of president Mbeki's past speeches and it is my sincere belief that this man's vision for Africa was very clear and it will only be fair for Sadc in particular and Africa in general to give him an opportunity to execute for the benefit of us all.
To convince those who may be in doubt below I will reproduce excerpts from Thabo Mbeki's speech at the launch of the African Renaissance Institute, Pretoria, 11 October, 1999, "As all of us know, the word "renaissance" means rebirth, renewal, springing up anew.
Therefore, when we speak of an African Renaissance, we speak of the rebirth and renewal of our continent.
This idea is not new to the struggles of the peoples of our continent for genuine emancipation. It has been propagated before by other activists for liberation, drawn from many countries.
But it has been suggested that when this perspective was advanced in earlier periods, the conditions did not exist for its realisation.
Accordingly, what is new about it today is that the conditions exist for the process to be enhanced, throughout the continent, leading to the transformation of the idea from a dream dreamt by visionaries to a practical programme of action for revolutionaries.
What, then, are these conditions? These are:
the completion of the continental process of the liquidation of the colonial system in Africa, attained as a result of the liberation of South Africa;
the recognition of the bankruptcy of neo-colonialism by the masses of the people throughout the continent, including the majority of the middle strata and, the acceleration of the process of globalisation.
As we take advantage of these changed circumstances, we must move from the fundamental proposition that the peoples of Africa share a common destiny.
Each one of our countries is constrained in its ability to achieve peace, stability, sustained development and a better life for the people, except in the context of the accomplishment of these objectives in other sister African countries as well.
Accordingly, it is objectively in the interest of all Africans to encourage the realisation of these goals throughout our Continent, at the same time as we pursue their attainment in each of our countries.
We speak of a continent which, while it led in the very evolution of human life and was a leading centre of learning, technology and the arts in ancient times, has experienced various traumatic epochs; each one of which has pushed her peoples deeper into poverty and backwardness.
We refer here to the three periods of:
slavery, which robbed the continent of millions of her healthiest and most productive inhabitants and reinforced the racist and criminal notion that, as Africans, we are sub-human;
imperialism and colonialism, which resulted in the rape of raw materials, the destruction of traditional agriculture and domestic food security, and the integration of Africa into the world economy as a subservient participant; and,
neo-colonialism, which perpetuated this economic system, while creating the possibility for the emergence of new national elites in independent states, themselves destined to join the dominant global forces in oppressing and exploiting the masses of the people.
The task of the African Renaissance derive from this experience, covering the entire period from slavery to date. They include:
establishing the institutions and procedures which would enable the continent collectively to deal with questions of democracy, peace and stability;
achieving sustainable economic development that results in the continuous improvement of the standards of living and the quality of life of the masses of the people;
qualitatively changing Africa's place in the world economy so that it is free of the yoke of the international debt burden and no longer a supplier of raw materials and an importer of manufactured goods;
strengthening the genuine independence of African countries and continent in their relations with the major powers and enhancing their role in the determination of the global system of governance in all fields, including politics, the economy, security, information and intellectual property, the environment and science and technology.
These goals can only be achieved through a genuinely popular and protracted struggle involving not only governments and political parties, but also the people themselves in all their formations.
Such a popular movement for the fundamental renewal of Africa would also have to take into account the multi-faceted reality that:
it is engaged in an extremely complex struggle which would be opposed by forces of reaction from both within and without the continent;
it would achieve both forward movement and suffer occasional setbacks;
the continental offensive can only be sustained if the active populations of all countries are confident that none of the countries of the continent, regardless of the extent of its contribution to the Renaissance, seeks to impose itself on the rest as a new imperialist power; and,
From all this, it is clear that the achievement of the historically vital African Renaissance requires that the peoples of our continent should adopt a realist programme of action that will actually move Africa towards its real renewal.
Accordingly, ways have to be found to ensure that:
the OAU is further strengthened so that in its work, it focuses on the strategic objective of the realisation of the African Renaissance;
links are built across Africa's borders among all social sectors to increase the levels of cooperation and integration;
steps are taken to ensure that both Africa and the rest of the world define the new (21st) century as an "African Century", in furtherance of the objective of the mobilisation of the peoples of the world to support the offensive for an African Renaissance.
None of us were present when the slaves were forced into the dungeons on the Isle of Goree in Senegal and on the island of Zanzibar. But we would not be wrong if we came to the conclusion that those who survived these dungeons as well as their transportation across the oceans, did so because of a strong will to survive.
We were present when the colonial and racist powers put up the most determined resistance to deny the people of Algeria, Kenya, the Portuguese colonies, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa their freedom.
We know that the peoples of these countries and our continent as a whole were not discouraged by what seemed to be overwhelming odds against them, because they were determined that the people's cause for national emancipation could never be defeated.
That same spirit of optimism and commitment to overcome must inform all of us now as we build on the victories we have scored, to engage what will clearly be a titanic struggle to achieve Africa's Renaissance.
What will decide the outcome is not the strength of our opponents but our own determination to succeed.
The moment is upon us when we should draw on this deep well of human nobility to make this statement in action that Africa's time has come! We, in all our millions, including those of us who are in the Diaspora, will ensure that Africa will not be denied what is due to her! The African century will not be proclaimed!
It will come to be through struggle! The struggle continues! Victory is certain!
There can be no doubt in anyone's mind that President Mbeki knows the nuts and bolts of the African agenda and for us to move forward I urge Sadc to deploy him to the AUC chairmanship.
Dr P Chimedza is the chairman of the Zimpapers group among other portfolios. He wrote this in his personal capacity. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org