Once again the heads of State and governments of the various nations in Africa are meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and to discuss issues affecting the Continent. For five years such meetings have been taking place and after each meeting nothing happens to the problems facing the continent. There is very little to show for all the millions of dollars of tax payers' money that has gone into such meetings. What has the AU achieved or got right in Africa since it replaced the toothless OAU (Organisation of Africa Unity)? How effective has the AU been in tackling the numerous problems facing the continent? Can the AU tell the people in the continent why it should be allowed to hold such meetings in the name of the people after five years of no results? Can the AU tell the people in Africa one single thing that it has got right since it changed its name from OAU to AU? What at all has the AU achieved in Africa that merit another waste of tax payers' money?
Today Somalia is a failed state, the war is still ravaging on after 19 years, hundreds of thousands have died, millions of people have been displaced and become refugees and in all these years the AU has been meeting and talking. For what?
Right now in DR Congo the civil war is still going on. The unrest and instabilities in the country have resulted in millions of Congolese lives and property being destroyed. Even as I write the AU is meeting to talk shop while millions of women, children and civilians are facing death in Congo. What has the AU done to stop the war and the looting of Congo's resources?
Today in Zimbabwe over sixty thousand people are affected by cholera. Over 3000 are already dead and starvation is threatening millions of others. Almost a year after the elections in Zimbabwe the country is yet to have a running government. Zimbabwe is now paralysed. Inflation is over 2,200 000 %, the economy is broke with 94% of the people unemployed in the country and Mugabe is still in control despite the fact that he lost the elections. And the so called leaders have audacity to meet in the name of the people to discuss issues affecting them. What issues? Do they care at all?
In Kenya hundreds of people were killed during and after the elections and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property were destroyed. One would expect the AU to act with a quick respond to find solution in time of such crises. But did we see any such response from the AU? Is it not the same do nothing and wait and see approach that we saw? If it had not been the effort of Kofi Annan who dedicated himself to solving the problem, Kenya would have been another Zimbabwe and the African leaders would still be meeting as they have ever done. Where and what has the AU got it right in Africa?
Like her predecessor, the AU has been powerless and helpless while genocide is being committed against the people of Darfur. Millions of Darfurians have become refugees while hundreds of thousands have been murdered, raped and tortured to death while the AU leaders meet year after year to drink wine and have fun at the expense of the tax payer. Look at how poorly equipped the AU peacekeepers in Darfur are. Have they been able to do anything to protect the people? I don't think so. In the words of one commander, 'the leaders in Africa have sent us here to keep peace but there is no peace to keep'. That is the situation in Darfur. Thousands are being killed and the peacekeepers do not have what it takes to keep peace.
Today in Ivory Coast the country is still divided into two with the rebels in the north and the government in the south. The once prosperous nation has been reduced to rubbles. Million of farmers have lost their livelihoods and millions of the people live in fear of their live. And what has the AU been able to do so far to stop the war and reduce the insecurity in the country? We are yet to know what the AU will do.
Even as I am writing there is serious violence and power struggle going on in Madagascar with the ruling and opposition parties each claiming to be in control of the island state. Already around 100 people have been burnt alive and millions of dollars worth of property destroyed. Once again the AU is silent and we are waiting to see what it will do to stop the ongoing violence.
What can I say about the leaders currently meeting? Well a lot. First of all how many of them can boast of been democratically elected and therefore have the mandate from their people to represent them in Addis Ababa? Secondly, how many of the governments in Africa can claim to have legitimacy from the people and how many of them have any credibility at all? Is it the government headed by Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or Omar Bongo of Gabon or Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, or the one headed Paul Biya of Cameroon or Gaddafi of Libya or the one headed by Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia? The meeting is full of dictators, tyrants, kleptocrats and their corrupt associates who wrestled power from the people and forced themselves onto the people. These leaders are not accountable to anyone except themselves. The elections of Yar'dua of Nigeria, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Rupiah Banda of Zambia have all been called into question. How do you expect incompetent, dictators and corrupt leaders who came to power through the back door to solve the war in Congo or Darfur or alleviate their people from poverty?
What has the AU been able to do about the recent coups that took place in Guinea and Mauritania? Practically nothing except the usual barking and threats of suspension from the AU. Just wait for a year or two and the coup leaders will be presidents of their respective countries and they will take part in AU meetings and there will be no one to prevent them for this is how majority of the so called leaders came into power. This was how Gaddafi, Omar Al Bashir, Yahya Jammeh and a host of others came into power, first as military dictators and later as military leaders in civilian clothing. This is why Gaddafi has been in power for 39 years now, Omar Bongo of Gabon 31 years, Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea 28 years, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe 28 years, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt 27 years, Paul Biya of Cameroon 26 years, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda 22 years, Omar Al Bashir of Sudan 19 years, Iddriss Derby of Chad 17 years, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia 14 years and there is no one to question them why they are still in power.
Which of the major issues bothering Africans has the AU been able to solve or appear to be solving despite years of meetings? Is it the poverty, famine and malnutrition that have made Africans to appear as sub-humans in eyes of many in the West? Is it the endemic official corruption or the Darfur genocide, or the conflicts in Congo, Ivory Coast, Sudan, northern Uganda or the dictatorships in Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Egypt and Uganda? When are the AU leaders going to put in sound and concrete policies that will lift the millions of people who live on $1 a day from such predicaments?
Once again the AU leaders are meeting, drinking wine, patting each other on the shoulder and having a nice time while millions of people already condemned to poverty by these leaders, face starvation, diseases and famine. Despite the millions of dollars of tax payers money that is going to be spent at this meeting the problems of Darfur, Congo, Ivory Coast, abject poverty, leadership incompetence in the continent will not change.
The people in Africa are throwing a challenge to the leaders meeting in Ethiopia today to show them (the people) one, just one thing that they (the leaders) have done or got right that justifies their meeting and spending of tax payers money.
Despite years of meeting we are yet to see what fruit these meetings would produce and whether the wars and instabilities in Congo, Sudan, Chad, Ivory Coast, northern Uganda and Madagascar will be resolved. We are yet to see whether the poverty virus that has infected so many countries, cities, metropolis, towns, villages, households will get worst or will be reduced. We are yet to see whether the $148 billion dollars stolen by these leaders each year will stop. We are yet to see if the tyrants and dictators will leave the scene, allow democracy to get root, and be accountable to the people.
By Lord Aikins Adusei