AU: a toothless bulldog

January 25, 2012 at 11:58 am Leave a comment

On January 1, South Africa assumed the rotating chairmanship of the United Nations Security Council and President Jacob Zuma went on to berate Nato for the role it played in the overthrow of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, in his inaugural speech.
Zuma lamented what he stated as fact, that the African Union (AU) had hardly been given a chance to resolve the Libyan problem, within the context of the African Solutions to African Problems paradigm.

Ironically, the AU was formed in the town of Sirte, Libya, in March 2001, with Gaddafi playing a very pivotal role in its formation.

Just how capacitated the AU is, in order to resolve the myriad of African problems is still something of an enigma.

Zuma himself, among others, undertook several trips to Libya to discuss with Gaddafi as the civil war was raging, but Gaddafi remained inexorably intransigent.

Even offers of asylum were turned down, as Gaddafi vowed to fight to the bitter end. Gaddafi obviously overrated his capacity to deal with the situation, and underrated the Libyan people’s resolve to rid themselves of his hegemony.

Why some members of the AU, and more particularly, Gaddafi, himself, being himself a product of a coup against King Idris, could suggest that the Libyan Spring was the work of imperialists, boggles the mind.

It boils down to suggesting that, it is well and good for Gaddafi to come to power by staging a coup against the legitimate order, but, it is unlawful to give Gaddafi the same treatment.

Gaddafi overthrew King Idris and went on to rule Libya for 42 years, in which he denied the people of Libya the right to elect their leaders.

So, in essence, Gaddafi imposed himself on the people of Libya and went on to persecute them for decades, while Africa watched in silence.

Not at any time, did AU leaders raise any issues relating to Gaddafi’s legitimacy or human rights record. Instead, they were busy venerating and thanking him for the generous hospitality he dispensed with, in funding them.

Gaddafi used African leaders’ bankruptcy and gargantuan appetite for handouts to manipulate them, a thing he failed to do in the Arab League, as almost all of the Arab world has oil-dollars and didn’t need pittances.

There is something of a promiscuous and duplicitous streak in some members of the AU, in that they do not see any evil in those that grease their palms.

Leaders who came to power though coups, like Gaddafi, Al Bashir of Sudan and Teodoro Obiang Nguema, of Equatorial Guinea, are acceptable in their fold, as long as they have oil-dollars to dish out, but if they are poor, like Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar, they are advised to restore the status quo.

Perhaps it is time for a reality check, and for the AU, to ascertain its capacity to resolve Africa’s problems. For starters, most members cannot even afford to keep up with AU subscription payments.

And, save for, South Africa and some Ecowas countries, like Nigeria, very few can afford to raise an army, beyond tokenism, to restore order in or keep peace, in troubled spots.

It simply is not true that the AU never had an opportunity to address the Libyan issue. It clearly lacked the capacity to deal with a difficult customer, like Gaddafi, who had nothing, but absolute condescending contempt for his black brothers.

Zuma was shown the two fingers by Gaddafi, when he went over to plead with him to stop killing his people, and to leave the country, to give peace a chance.

Now, if a leader will not listen to Zuma, the leader of the most powerful country on the African continent, who will he listen to?

African Solutions to African Problems is a mere cliché, and African leaders’ attempt to
insulate themselves from the broader and decisive international intervention.

A solution is just that . . . a solution. There is nothing like African Solutions and African Problems
. . . that is why in times of disease, hunger and famine, Africa has no qualms about accepting aid from Europe and the West. It suddenly loses its selective language about African Solutions.

Where were African solutions when, for years, Laurent Gbagbo held the Ivory Coast to ransom; and, when the people of South Sudan and Darfur suffer, as they continue to do, Al Bashir’s bondage and stranglehold; and, when the North African countries that have eventually staged the Spring, suffered under totalitarian regimes; and when Swaziland writhes with the undemocratic pain from a king who treats himself to a primeval ritual of choice pickings from a buffet of young and innocent virgins laid before him, like lambs to the slaughter, year in and year out; and when Marc Ravalomana is not allowed to return to his country; and when Zimbabwe’s GNU grinds to a halt through determined obduracy?

Let us be honest with ourselves, the AU simply did not have the capacity to resolve the Libyan uprising . . . it was well beyond its capacity!

Hopefully, in time, the AU will grow to play a more significant role in resolving Africa’s problems but, in the interim, it must be honest enough to accept its limitations and not try and overstate its capacity.

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