The Silent Guns and Roadblocks

Radio Erena: 11 February 2020

Fifty-five nations’ leaders are gathering in Addis Ababa for the 33rd African Union summit. The theme of the summit is ambitious, as it aims at ending all conflicts in the continent by 2063. An earlier theme was a plan for “Africa Without Walls 2020.” Dreams have no borders. Today’s theme is “Silencing the Guns: Creating a Conducive Environment for Africa’s Development.”

Although the second biggest gathering of nations’ leaders, after the United Nations General Assembly, takes place in Africa, the peoples of the continent hardly know that the gathering is taking place. This is not merely a black comedy paradox. Only the media give attention to the meeting.

No doubt, violence is the chief hindrance to development in Africa, but it is just the symptom. The real disease lies underneath. One of the causes is the same leaders who are gathering to solve the problem itself. To make a comparison between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, the United Nations preamble states, “We the peoples of the United Nations determined ….” In contrast, the Organization of African Unity’s preamble stipulates, “We, the Heads of African States and Governments…” Thus, African leaders take precedence over the stakeholders and planners of the African march toward development.

In almost all comparable summits the African leaders never fail to proficiently outline the challenges in front of the continent’s development as they fail unceasingly to face these challenges.

As the current theme indicates, one of the tasks which lie ahead for the leaders (not the peoples) of Africa is putting an end to post-election violence. Ironically, most of the leaders participating in the summit are the ones responsible for rigging elections, extending mandates or coming to power by plain force. It is no wonder then that post-election violence ravages the continent as leaders use ethnic, religious and tribal differences to stay in power. AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki intelligently addressed the leaders saying, “If you want to address it, you are speaking about the grass-root socio-economic challenges, in addition to security challenges.” As a chairperson of an organization of a wide mandate, he is referring to a broader sense of challenges and security, which the honorable leaders of states and governments may not agree with. For many of them, the challenges which they are facing are challenges posed by the opposition leaders, and “security” in this context means the personal security of each leader and his family.

The AU is copying the old-fashioned ways of the preceding OAU with, of course, less success in addressing the continent’s problems and challenges. Depending on the head of states and governments, rather than the continent’s peoples, it will lead to nowhere. If these leaders had had anything good to present, they should have presented it in their respective countries first and foremost.

By: Fathi Osman