The 25 May 2013 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now renamed African Union (AU). Africa and Africans celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the existence of the founding of the Organisation that brought all African independent states together in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the 25 May 1963. African leaders who gathered in Addis Ababa at that time were great leaders in stature, intellect and inspiration. They inspired and influenced their own people and those whose countries were still under colonialism, white minority rule and apartheid to stand up and intensify the struggles for their liberation and independence and this gave impetus to the spread of the wind of change. They established relevant organs such as the Co-ordination Committee for the Liberation of Africa, otherwise known as the Liberation Committee to support the struggles of the colonized, oppressed and exploited people still fighting for liberation. The Domino strategy of the OAU was implemented and this finally led to the total liberation of the continent with South Africa the last domino to fall hence the end of white minority rule and apartheid. The OAU played its role of assisting freedom fighters morally, politically, materially and financially to liberate the entire continent.
Why the renaming or change from OAU to the African Union? Where is the Union? How far is the Union or the United States of Africa? The change of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU) did not seem to take Africa closer to the ultimate goal of Pan Africanism – the United States of Africa or the Union of African States with a central administration, surrendering of sovereignty and the end of fragmentation. The leaders who were behind the idea of the African Union seem to have simply taken a shortcut by copying what Europe did in concept, structure and process, hence the choice of the African Union (AU from European Union (EU), maybe because it sounded nice and easy. There is however no doubt that a lot of efforts were made in bringing together the ideas from the OAU
Charter and the African Economic Community (AEC) document. In content the process was a reflection of what happened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963 when the Organisation of African Unity was founded. At that conference of heads of state and government, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and what was regarded as radicals from the Casablanca Group argued for the immediate establishment of the United States of Africa or the Union of African States with a central administration. Other key proposals Dr. Kwame Nkrumah made were the establishment an African High Command, a single currency, etc.
The other group regarded as moderates from what was called the Monrovia Group was more interested in the concept of a lose association of independent states bound together by a common desire to co-operate. The latter idea won the day and this is reflected in the African Union which has yet to seriously consider the idea of the United States of Africa except when this was raised by Muammar Gadaffi of Libya but simply brushed aside after he was replaced as the chair of the African Union. There is very little hope as to whether this will ever be seriously considered in future AU agendas because the current generation of African leaders have not shown interest and passion for African unity, let alone the pursuit of
the creation of the United States of Africa even within the framework of the sub-regional groupings such as ECOWAS, ECCAS, SADC, EAC, Magreb states, etc. What was the point of changing the OAU to the African Union if we do not transform to the Union by ending the fragments or so-called sovereign nation states and have one state with central administration?
The current generation of African leaders contend that the concept of the United States of Africa is complicated and impracticable and they prefer to talk about integration which we understand as simple cooperation while they are entrenching themselves and the strategies of their foreign masters whose songs they sing and dance to. This generation of leaders is more wedded to the perpetuation of the colonial created so-called sovereig nation states and continued fragmentation of Africa in the face of the new form of imperialism known as globalization or domination by transnational corporations of the developed and industrialized countries of the North and Japan supported by the IMF and the World Bank whose strategy is to ensure the continued exploitation of Africa’s natural and human resources in the name of democracy, good governance and within the framework of the free market economy guided by the neoliberal paradigm.
These leaders are averse to African unity and simply pay lip service to this concept and ideal. They are happy to remain chiefs in these small fiefs or villages which are politically and economically non-viable and depend on the developed economies for their survival and continued existence. These leaders also survive on the handouts from these developed economies. Their countries are client states or appendages of the big economies who dictate to these so-called leaders as seen in their behaviours and attitudes in their interaction with these leaders. They relate with leaders of developed economies with cap in hand and very apologetic and cringing. They are afraid to tell these leaders where to get off when it comes to Africa’s interests and that is why they can vote with these countries against an African country or against their own interests as we saw when the Security Council Resolution 1973 was adopted.
At the time when the OUA/AU is celebrating 50 years of existence, Africa is far from achieving the key and fundamental goal of the OAU/AU – African unity. Nowhere is this ideal achieved or about to be achieved even with the establishment of sub-regional groupings such as ECOWAS, ECCAS, SADC, EAC etc. The AU and these sub-regional groupings are talk shop platforms where African leaders are afforded the opportunity to pay lip service to African unity as well as take empty decisions or resolutions not backed by concrete action; hence the helplessness in the face of external interventions such as that in Cote d’Ivoire and in Mali by French troops to solve African problems; not to mention the destruction of Libya by NATO air power sanctioned by the vote of some African countries on the United Nations Security Council and support of the International Criminal Court (ICC) not supported by the self same powers that want to see African leaders arraigned before this court and African leaders accept this double standard or absurdity.
The Democratic Republic of Congo continue to be destabilised with the colaboration of neighbouring African states that benefit from the chaos and anarchy they create so as to continue with the looting of the mineral resources of that vast and rich country which has never known peace and stability since independence from Belgium on the 30 June 1960 under the leadership of Patrice Emery Lumumba who was killed because he was against the plunderers and their agents. Somali remains an intractable challenge and a threat to peace and security and Africa has not been able to tackle and end the anarchy, chaos, destruction and mayhem that have been going on for the last over 20 years and have become the order of the day in this East African country. This is an example of a failed state – the consequence of the continued fragmentation or balkanization of Africa aided and facilitated by the greed, selfishness and parochialism of the leaders of these countries.
Africa is in need of a new type of leadership which can take the objectives of the OAU/AU forward. The current generation of leaders cannot drive this process because bogged down by its lack of political will, narrow selfish interests but also puppets of the developed and industrialised countries of the North and Japan. These leaders are clinging to the outdated colonial created so-called sovereign nation states whose boundaries are bursting at the seams as people cross these artificial borders flocking to countries that offer better opportunities and security. This phenomenon of external migration means nothing to these leaders but its impact is felt by the local people whose reaction is expressed in violence as they compete for scarce resources with these immigrants.
The conflict in Cote d’Ivoire is an example of this movement of people searching for better opportunities and security. The flow of people into South Africa will continue for as long as the uneven development remains on the continent and can only be stopped the day Africa will be united, free movement of people and goods normalised with the obliteration of existing colonial created boundaries and the end of the so-called sovereign nation states – the cause of conflict, civil wars, mayhem, destruction and misery on the African continent.
With Dr. Kwame Nkrumah we say Africa Must Unite because the salvation of Africa and the African people lies in continental unity or the United States of Africa, regionally or sub-regionally. This state could start as a confederation, a federation or even a unitary state or led by two states or more with others joining as benefits of a bigger unit becomes obvious. Integration or co-operation is not enough; Africa must unite or perish. This responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the youth of Africa and the PAC has a leading role to play in this connection as the champion of Africanism and Pan Africanism in this part of the continent. The PAC youth must take the lead now or never.
Molefe Ike Mafole
The writer is a Member of APLA Military Veterans Association (APLA MVA) and Member of the PAC of Azania in the Tshwane Region. He can be contacted 072 630 2206 or firstname.lastname@example.org