Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Zimbabwe Journalist: Quo Vadis African Union?

MY TURN: Quo vadis African Union?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 14:51
by Caesar Zvayi
Zimbabwe Herald

It is said if a man fools me once, shame on him but if he fools me twice then shame on me. Shame on the African Union leadership for falling for the wiles of Western Jezebels twice at the UN, where their handling of the Libyan crisis has been confusing and infuriating for the simple reason that it showed they never learn.

Instead of acting decisively and on principle, some African states cowered before the Anglo-Saxon alliance and voted for UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which was used as cover by NATO for military action on Libya when it should not have gone beyond enforcing a No-Fly Zone.

And now seven months down the line, with Libya still ablaze and Gaddafi being hounded like an animal by NATO forces, the African Union chairman Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and the chair of the Libya panel Jacob Zuma of South Africa were at it again at the UN, this time announcing that they “recognised’’ the NTC as the legitimate representative of Libyans.

My foot! Where was the AU Summit to come up with that position held?

What would these two men have lost in insisting on the roadmap the AU agreed upon in Addis Ababa, that there be dialogue between Gaddafi and the NTC, the formation of a transitional inclusive government and elections to choose a leadership with the mandate of the generality of Libyans and not the graces of NATO?

How could African leaders who should know better try to brazenly legitimise the illegitimate by recognising the “NATO” Transitional Council, led by the timid--looking Mustapha Abdel Jalil?

Naturally western media were, last week, abuzz with reports that the African Union had ‘‘recognised’’ the NTC. This was quite shocking given how NATO had virtually ridden rough-shod over the AU by rejecting its entreaties to leave Libya and also trashing the AU Panel’s Peace plan by selling Jalil as the legitimate leader of Libya.

On Tuesday last week, the AU chairman said the bloc had officially recognised the NTC as the leadership of Libya. The announcement was reportedly transmitted by President Zuma’s office, six days after he hosted a meeting of the AU’s special panel on Libya in Pretoria. AU chairman, President Obiang Nguema, subsequently made the announcement after consulting with the panel in New York, ahead of the UN General Assembly.

The AU chairman was quoted as saying ‘‘I hereby announce that the African Union recognises the National Transitional Council as the representative of the Libyan people as they form an all-inclusive transitional government that will occupy the Libyan seat at the African Union. The African Union stands ready to support the Libyan people . . . as they rebuild their country towards a united, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Libya.’’

At the AU panel’s meeting in Pretoria the previous week, the group had ‘‘committed itself to working with the NTC’’ but stopped short of formally recognising it, a position that was in line with the AU position as agreed in Malabo, E. Guinea and as reiterated by President Mugabe on his return from the UN this week.

‘‘As far as we are concerned, the African position is that the NTC can only have a seat in the AU if the Summit of the AU recognises that. In fact, now that they are in control, they are the de-facto (by fact) authority of Libya. We will not go as far as the Europeans, NATO countries, to recognise them de jure (by law or legitimate) to say they are the absolute government. No, of course, because we still want negotiations, inclusive negotiations between the NTC and the Gaddafi loyalists.’’

Shouldn’t South Africa which was involved in the debacle over resolution 1973, be twice shy?

In Pretoria, the AU stuck to its roadmap for Libya that proposes dialogue between Gaddafi and the NTC pursuant to the holding of elections to usher in a new leadership with a mandate from Libyans, not NATO, and which would take Libya’s seat at the AU.

This is what any reasonable person would support, even those hawks in NATO, who hide behind the neo-liberal platitudes of promoting democracy and good governance. So where did the AU chair lose it in New York?

By saying the AU recognises the NTC, what message was Mr Obiang Nguema Mbasogo sending? That it’s okay for westerners to invade African countries? That’s its okay for NATO to effect regime change on African soil? That it’s okay for westerners to butcher innocent civilians, use banned weapons like cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions which will have comebacks on the innocent for years to come? That’s its okay for them to hunt and hound sitting heads of state and government like foxes? That it’s okay to trash and ignore the authority of the AU and still have the stooges the westerners install embraced by the same AU?

And all this from Obiang Nguema who was only saved from a similar fate to that of Gaddafi by the vigilance of our security forces who intercepted a plane load of mercenaries on March 7, 2004. The 67 dogs of war were aboard a plane that stopped here with the intention of picking weapons from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries that they claimed were to be used to guard a diamond mine in the DRC when they intended to use them to depose Obiang Nguema.

How soon we forget. Be that as it may, in saying the AU recognises the NTC, Nguema has scored an own that may prove disastrous in the long-run.

What will stop westerners from going into overdrive with Libyan style bombardments of progressive, resource-rich states with a view to installing puppet regimes?

What will make them ever listen to the AU since they will know they are at liberty to urinate in the faces of the continental and claim it’s raining?

By recognising the NTC, the AU chair has legitimised the NATO operation in Libya. He has effectively sanctioned the killing of innocent Libyans, blessed the hounding of Gaddafi and endorsed the bounty on his head.

The AU chair has bought into the scandalous campaign by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo who issued a warrant of arrest on Gaddafi, and not the NATO leadership that not only broke international law by stretching a UN resolution but has needlessly killed thousands of innocent Libyans including Gaddafi’s grandchildren as young as 18 months.

Surely the founding fathers of the OAU must be turning in their graves. This is not what the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Haile Sellassie, and Alfred Sedor Senghor — to mention just a few — had in mind when they met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 25, 1963 to launch the Organisation of African Unity that had had two primary objectives: The first to promote the unity and solidarity of African states and act as a collective voice pursuant to securing Africa’s long-term economic and political future that had been endangered by years of slavery and colonialism while the second objective aimed to eradicate all forms of colonialism.

President Mugabe, no doubt the only leader today with the stature of those founding fathers, decried this loss of direction this week when he said, ‘‘the period in which we are is a period in which there appears to be a reversal of what the founding fathers did and the principles of the founding fathers.

‘‘Principles are being sacrificed on the altar of expediency as Nkrumah would have said. Because you are being assisted by the West, you, therefore, must bow to the West. It is a terrible period and it is selling out the principles of the founding fathers, and Zimbabwe can not stand for that.’’

The AU, as currently constituted is a pale shadow of the OAU as it can not even speak with one voice what with countries like Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea,. Ivory Coast, Morocco, Niger. Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia recognising the NTC ahead of the AU.

The AU can ill-afford the mistake made by some African states in the Security Council who voted with the West on resolution 1973. Embracing the NTC is akin to giving NATO free reign on the continent.

The NTC should never be recognised by the AU unless it follows the roadmap. The AU must come up with clear parameters on what is expected of member states. Clarifying the parameters for democratic governance will give the AU a checklist to reject or expel non-compliant members. Similarly, the AU should seriously think of setting up a standby force that can intervene, on the recommendation of the Peace and Security Council, in countries facing peace and security challenges or repel invasions from hostile forces.

The confusion, selling out and flip-flopping we have seen from the AU over Libya has seriously dented the continental body’s image. There is thus serious need for introspection and the rediscovering of the spirit that motivated the launch of the OAU 48 years ago.

It appears we Africans haven’t learnt anything from our engagement with westerners over the past 48 years?

Quo vadis African Union?

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