Pambazuka News 309: Special Issue: African Union: towards continental government?
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CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Announcements, 3. Features, 4. Comment & analysis, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Books & arts, 7. Blogging Africa, 8. Podcasts, 9. China-Africa Watch, 10. African Union Monitor, 11. Women & gender, 12. Human rights, 13. Refugees & forced migration, 14. Social movements, 15. Elections & governance, 16. Corruption, 17. Development, 18. Health & HIV/AIDS, 19. LGBTI, 20. Environment, 21. Media & freedom of expression, 22. News from the diaspora, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 27. Jobs
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Featured this week
TOWARDS CONTINENTAL GOVERNMENT?
HAKIMA ABBAS introduces this special issue on continental government
KWAME AKONOR asks whether continental government is simply stuffing old wine in new bottles
FAIZA MOHAMED looks at union government from the perspective of women in Africa
SOAWR coalition issues a policy brief
TAJUDEEN ABDUL RAHEEM calls out for common citizenship for all Africans
L. MUTHONI WANYEKI argues that more time is needed to ensure popular participation in discussions about unity
SELOME ARAYA argues for a stronger role for the African diaspora
ROTIMI SANKORE says we need action on health and unity of the living, not of the dying or dead
TIM MURITHI looks at how we got to where we are in the great unity debate
ROUND-UPS: links to previous articles on African unity and to interviews with activists about their fears and aspirations
LETTERS: Letter from Jacques Depelchin
BLOGGING AFRICA: Review of African blogs
BOOKS AND ARTS: TrIbute to Sembene Ousmane
PODCASTS: Charles Taylor trial
WOMEN AND GENDER: Gender violence outlawed in Sierra Leone
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: AU extends mandate of Darfur mission
HUMAN RIGHTS: Togo enforces anti-trafficking law
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: General strike commences in Nigeria
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Mauritania refuges allowed to return
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Congo’s ruling party expected to triumph
AFRICA AND CHINA: China may send peacekeepers to Darfur
CORRUPTION: Bongo, Nguesso face Paris investigations
DEVELOPMENT: Undermining poverty reduction and growth in Africa
HEALTH AND HIV/Aids: WHO to monitor ARV side-effects worldwide
LGBTI: Ugandan gay organization breaks the ice
ENVIRONMENT: Payout for Ivorian waste victims
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Liberian journalists beaten
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Influx of Africans finds mixed fortunes in the US
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Save Africa from e-waste
PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; courses, seminars and workshops, jobs and books and publications
*Pambazuka News now has a Del.icio.us page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit http://del.icio.us/pambazuka_news
Special issue in three parts
This week, to coincide with civil society meetings being launched in Accra, Ghana, in the run up to the African Union (AU) Summit on Continental Government, we publish a special issue of Pambazuka News. Given the large number of articles and issues addressed, we will be sending out Pambazuka News in three parts. Part 1 and Part 2 will contain the main articles on the topic, and will be sent out, respectively, today (Thursday), and tomorrow (Friday). Part 3, the Links and Resources section, will contain some of your usual favourites, letters to the editor, as well as the summaries of useful websites. Thanks for your understanding.
Towards continental government?
The United States of Africa is a notion cherished in the minds of Pan-Africanists from the continent to the diaspora. The proposal currently on the table at the African Union is elaborated in the 'Study on an African Union Government Towards the United States of Africa'. Few critics entirely dismiss the principle of regional integration, but across Africa there is huge variance in the vision of a united Africa. As a contribution to a public debate on the proposals for continental government, we publish a special issue of Pambazuka News providing perspectives from a range of activists and intellectuals.
'Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race, united under one federal government, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a great power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind.' - Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah
The United States of Africa is a notion cherished in the minds of Pan-Africanists from the continent to the diaspora. Coined during the decolonisation period by liberation leaders and activists seeking the unity of Africa through political, economic and social integration, in 2007, the concepts and debates around the United States of Africa are seeing a rebirth at the African Union (AU). In June, a 'Grand Debate on the Union Government' will be the sole focus at the African Union Heads of States Summit. Symbolically held in Accra, Ghana, as the country celebrates its 50th year of independence marked by the ascent to presidency of one of the worlds leading Pan-Africanists, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, the grand debate is based on the proposals coordinated by the committee of seven championed by Libya, Uganda and Nigeria.
The proposal currently on the table at the African Union is elaborated in the 'Study on an African Union Government Towards the United States of Africa' . The Proposal underlines the need for common policy standards, harmonised approaches and joint trade, investment and development negotiations while underscoring the values of the rule of law, respect for human rights as well as popular and transparent governance as those that should underpin the Union Government. Proponents of a potential federation consider that regional integration will enable Africa to address the common challenges of political and economic exploitation, food insecurity, internal conflicts, amongst others, by empowering the continent with a united, self-determined voice and negotiation capacity that will wield due influence in the global context.
Few critics entirely dismiss the principle of regional integration but across Africa there is huge variance in the vision of a united Africa. Some claim that, given the failure of African nation building at a state level, as is manifested in a lack of democratic participation, civil wars, lack of development and widespread human rights violations among others, the United States of Africa is a dream that must be pursued, but can never be attained until each state is strengthened. Others still criticise the current proposal as too tempered to create any significant change to the realities for the people of Africa.
The study considers the establishment and implementation of Union Government in three phases, with a fully operational Union Government and the constitutional framework for a United States of Africa established by 2012. The Union Government would be composed of an Executive Council with a President and Vice President appointed by the Assembly for a term of six years and with commissioners appointed by the Executive Council. A legislative parliament would be elected by direct and universal adult suffrage with proportional representation.
While the participation of African peoples is envisaged through the African parliament and Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union (ECOSOCC) consultations, which the proposal enshrines in all Assembly deliberations, the voice of the people most directly affected by potential regional integration have been barely heard, as African policy makers prepare themselves for the Grand Debate. Yet, the rhetoric of the African Union claims the vision of 'an Africa driven by its own citizens' .
The strategy for such a people-driven union has yet to be formulated or implemented sufficiently to sincerely suggest that the proposal and debate on a Union Government and United States of Africa are guided by the vision of the people of the continent. The African Union has, since its inception, been didactic, with decisions being made with little consultation. African CSOs and citizens have little access or understanding of the AU and its organs, so have limited opportunity to meaningfully participate. While the ECOSOCC provides a potential avenue for the voice of the people to contribute to AU decision making, the body is yet to be an influential force. The gap between regional policy makers and the people of the continent have serious implications for implementation of decisions and regional accountability.
In order to strengthen civil society and citizen engagement with the African Union and its organs, Fahamu established the AU-Monitor. The AU-Monitor provides relevant, high quality and timely information and analysis that enables meaningful participation of citizens in the debates of the African Union and facilitates civil society advocacy and policy setting. Recognising the potentially inadequate popularisation and engagement of citizenry in the Grand Debate on the Union Government at the Heads of States summit, the AU-Monitor has been soliciting articles, news and analysis by a variety of stakeholders with a range of perspectives.
This publication is a selection of the articles and interviews that have contributed to the on-going debate, which we hope will assist in catalysing the full potential of a people-driven, united Africa.
In this special issue, Tim Murithi provides a historic framework for the institutionalisation of Pan-Africanism. He assesses the role of civil society in contributing to the union government debate. Kwame Akonor asks whether the African Union and its processes of regional integration are simply the same rehashed endeavours that were tried and failed at the Organisation of African Unity, and proposes means of constructively overcoming these challenges.
Demba Moussa Dembele examines the external and internal challenges faced by Africa in the global context and questions whether the current African leadership is capable of building a United States of Africa. Muthoni Wanyeki highlights the reasons for the current impetus toward a union among Africa’s leadership and explores the implications of the union on the AU, outlining the challenges to the union project while setting out conditions for its success. While Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem reflects on the common citizenship anticipated within a federation and underscores the importance of the potential for realised freedom of movement on the continent, Faiza Mohamed explains why a gender perspective is important in analysing the perceived groundbreaking benefits of a federation which ignores the realities faced by African women. She raises the importance of placing women's economic empowerment at the forefront of the actualisation of Africas growth and development.
Addressing some of the questions raised by Abdul-Raheem about 'who is African', Selome Araya talks about the inclusion of the diaspora in the framing of regional integration, defining Africa as a history rather than a geography. Kisira Kokelo, Issa Shivji and Gichinga Ndirangu address the economic and developmental implications of a union government. Shivji draws on the experiences of regional cooperation in East Africa to address some of the potential pitfalls of regional economic and political integration. Eyob Balcha underscores the critical social aspect of integration. Finally, in an important contribution to the debate, Sanou Mbaye presents a concrete plan of action for federal government and calls for self-determined action toward a unified Africa.
'Pan Africanism is the fullest expression of our struggle today and our greatest building base is Africa. We must sensitise the member-states and push them to action. We must press for a public opinion that is pan Africanist at a continental level', Alpha Oumar Konare, Chairman of the African Commission, on the importance of the proposal for a Union Government, January 2007.
 To download the study please visit www.africa-union.org/report.htm  Vision and Mission of the African Union, May 2004.
* Hakima Abbas is Fahamus Policy Analyst for AU-Monitor initiative
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Stuffing old wine in new bottles?
While the futuristic idea of an African superstate is a necessary and desirable alternative to the contemporary reality of an Africa of states, the political union of African states can only come to fruition if the lessons of the OAU’s failures are fully mastered. The AU will continue in the foreseeable future to be an important vehicle for addressing the continent’s numerous projects, argues Kwame Akonor. But the AU cannot empower and develop Africa, nor guarantee Africa’s collective security or provide a common platform for Africa’s collective diplomacy, if the AU remains the way it is today.
'A bunch of broomsticks is not as easily broken as a single stick' – African proverb.
As the African Union (AU) enters its fifth year of existence, it is rather fitting that it has devoted its annual summit to be a 'Grand Debate on the Union Government'. Since its inception on 9 July 2002, at Durban, South Africa, there have been conflicting perspectives on the AU’s role in Africa’s development. Africa’s political elite, and supporters of the AU, generally argue that the new institution would enhance the economic, political and social integration and development of African people. A great deal of Africa’s civil society however are not so optimistic: they perceive the AU as a mere continuation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) under a different name.
This essay argues that while the futuristic idea of an African superstate is a necessary and desirable alternative to the contemporary reality of an Africa of states, the political union of African states can only come to fruition if the lessons of OAU’s failures are fully mastered.
At the heart of the OAU’s failings was not so much a structural as an ideological shortcoming. The OAU lacked a cohesive ideology that could provide the proper situational interpretation of the African context. Ideologies not only rationalise and explain the reasons for a given situation; they also provide strategies toward future goals. (Zartman, 1966, p. 38). What the OAU lacked then was an ideology capable of rationalising and explaining Africa’s balkanisation, dependency and underdevelopment, and an ideology capable of providing strategies that would guarantee and enhance Africa’s power, prestige and progress in the postcolonial era.
Which ideology is capable of filling this vacuum? Pan-Africanism! Ofuatey-Kodjoe (1986) defines Pan-Africanism as an ideology with a cognitive component that recognises all African peoples, both in Africa and the diaspora, as being of one folk or nation, as a result of a shared cultural identity, a shared historical experience, and an indivisible future destiny (p. 391). And he goes on to argue, that the most fundamental goal of Pan-Africanism is the commitment to the collective empowerment of African peoples, wherever they are (p. 391). Thus, it must be quickly added that calling oneself Pan-Africanist does not make one so, and being of African descent does not automatically make a person a Pan-Africanist. Indeed, most of the OAU founders of yesteryear, and the AU founders of today, label themselves Pan-Africanist, without any appreciably clarity and commitment to the ideology of Pan-Africanism.
By rejecting the brand of Pan-Africanism advocated by the Casablanca group, the OAU at its birth, consciously or not, gave its blessings to the colonial political and economic formation - together with its ideological and cultural systems. Indeed, the final curse of African independence, and the OAU’s ascendancy, was that it solidified the balkanisation and dependency inherited from colonialism. The problem was compounded when the Casablanca group rather than opting out of the OAU decided to remain in it, perhaps for fear of isolation. Ghana’s Nkrumah, a staunch advocate of the Casablanca thinking, on arrival from the OAU’s inaugural summit even remarked triumphantly that 'the political unification of the African continent, my lifelong dream, is finally here'. (cited in Rooney, 1988, p. 223).
But of course, this was not the case; his Pan African ideal of a continental African government had been soundly rejected. And it also did not help much that none of the 22 countries, newly independent since the OAU’s founding, refused to join. Some newly independent countries joined the OAU merely for geographic reasons, well aware of the organisation’s impotence. Eritrea, OAU’s last but one newest member, when joining the OAU in 1993 declared: 'we are joining the OAU not because of your achievement, but because you are our African brothers (Afeworki 1993). According to Eritrea’s Issaias Afeworki, membership of the OAU was 'not spiritually gratifying or politically challenging [because] the OAU has become a nominal organization that has failed to deliver on its pronounced goals and objectives'. (Afeworki 1993). Nevermind that the OAU had failed to support Eritrea’s bloody 30-year struggle for independence (the continent’s longest civil war) from Ethiopia, incidentally the seat of the OAU headquarters.
Not surprisingly, the OAU became a geographical entity with no geopolitical weight. It forged a unity that further deepened the political marginalisation, economic dependence, and cultural doubt of the continent; the very antithesis of Pan-Africanism. The lesson here is that a union cannot be effective without ideological uniformity or unity of purpose. For while it is necessary for all Africa and Africans to unite, there is no point to this project if the result is a united Africa with divergent and confusing perspectives on the goals of unity, or a united Africa where consensus on a shared African worldview is elusive.
From a Pan-Africanist perspective therefore, it is better to have a united, empowered and independent Africa, comprising some African states, rather than to have a united, but weak and dependent Africa, comprising of all African states.
The old patterns persist
Unfortunately, like the OAU before it, an overwhelming majority of the AU’s founding members, eschew any genuine commitment and seriousness to the Pan-African ideal of an empowered African superstate that would increase the capacity of Africans to take direct control of their destinies. The preference for the status quo was made apparent during the Sirte Summit in September 1999, when African leaders, once again, retreated from the continental government thesis. While Libya’s Qathafi (1999) argued passionately for a transformative entity, in the form of a confederation of African states, as a ‘historical solution’ to the continent’s numerous problems, an overwhelming number of his fellow African leaders remained deeply skeptical about his vision of a ‘United States of Africa’.
Qathafi’s plea that African leaders 'give up a little bit of their sovereignty in the interests of the whole of Africa' was not even entertained as a realisable goal (Pompey 2000; Rosine 1999). The leaders of Egypt, Kenya and Uganda spoke for many when they said publicly that the idea of an African superstate was premature (Kipkoech 1999; Rosine 1999). Granted, Qathafi’s Arabic persuasion may predispose him to use non-African cultural perspectives, rather than an African centred paradigm, as a basis for defining a better world vision. Be that as it may, his call for an African superstate, like that of the Casablanca bloc of the 1960s, is a central pan-africanist strategy to achieving collective power in the contemporary international system.
Needless to say, the AU that was created has limited authority and coercive powers capable of changing the behavior of member states. Furthermore, since its ideological underpinnings does not promise the eventual collective acquisition of power, the AU cannot be expected to significantly transform the lives of Africans for the better. When we consider the AU’s current efforts in the areas of security, economics, and politics, it becomes obvious, but not surprising, that these are contrary to the fundamental goal of Pan-Africanism.
In the area of security and the preservation of peace, the formation of a single African High Command is considered central to the fundamental Pan-Africanist objective of collective empowerment. First, it is logical from a Pan-Africanist perspective to have one army to manage conflicts on the continent and to maximise the power of Africa, relative to other actors, in the international system. Africa has a combined 3,500,000 men and women in its armed forces, a number that any power bloc would be forced to reckon with. Secondly, an African High Command would help to reduce the military expenditures of individual African countries and divert such expenditures to much needed social services. Taken together, African countries spend in excess of US$20 billion annually on the military. A significant reduction in such spending would result if Africa had an efficient joint force and a central command. However, Muammar Al Qathafi’s call, since 1975, for abolishing national armies to create a single African army has been constantly rebuffed by his counterparts. The last time his idea was rebuffed was at the AU’s extraordinary summit in March 2004.
At this summit, a watered down version of Qathafi’s single army proposal, based on the maintenance of each African state's independence and sovereignty, was created instead. The creation of the African Standby Force (as this force is known) represents a marked departure from the OAU days. However there are numerous problems with its structures, important amongst these are: the lack of mechanisms to counter unilateral action of strong member countries; the non-veto power decision making structure; and the selection and inclusion of conflict prone countries as force members. Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher, later told reporters after the AU Summit that delegates rejected the Qathafi’s proposal because 'Africa is not ready yet for this [single African army] idea' (quoted in Pitman 2004).
Regarding economics, the strategies and programs pursued by the AU and its member states indicate continued reliance on international capital and the uncoordinated development of individual national economies. No real attempt has been made to achieve continental African economic unity despite the obvious economic wisdom of such an approach. The observation by Green and Seidman (1968), almost four decades ago, is still true today:
'Africa as a whole could provide markets able to support large-scale efficient industrial complexes; no single African state nor existing sub-regional economic union can do so. African states cannot establish large-scale productive complexes stimulating demand throughout the economy as poles of rapid economic growth because their markets are far too small. Instead the separate tiny economies willy-nilly plan on lines leading to the dead ends of excessive dependence on raw material exports and small scale inefficient ‘national factories’ at high costs per unit of output. Inevitably, therefore, they fail to reduce substantially their basic dependence on foreign markets, complex manufactures and capital.' (Green and Seidman, 1968, p. 22)
It should be noted that the specific economic policies pursued by the majority of African states are determined largely by the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions (IFIs), who demand explicit commitments from governments to implement remedial policies that the IFIs deem essential to the continued disbursement of loans. The impact of these structural adjustment conditionalities, while mostly negative, compromises the economic autonomy of African countries.
The AU’s economic blueprint, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD 2001) does not veer off the path traveled by the individual African member states: it too sees international capital and the separate development of national economies as a panacea. NEPAD has serious flaws, too many to list here (for a concise critique, see Taylor and Nel 2002).
From a Pan-Africanist viewpoint however, NEPAD’s biggest failing is that it does not sufficiently recognise African peoples as partners for, and of, development. As it stands now, NEPAD is an appeal to the goodwill and benevolence of the industrialised countries for aid and investment. Even so, NEPAD is an elite driven process that provides no means for mobilising the African masses for real development. The AU’s interest in securing international capital and maintaining neo-colonial relationship with the West, (rather than pursuing genuine inter-African cooperation), led the authors of NEPAD to consult first with the G8 industrialised countries, before African governments had had a chance to discuss it amongst themselves and with their own people. There is even talk of constructing a tunnel linking Africa with Europe.
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade (2002), one of the authors and spokesperson for NEPAD has said: 'NEPAD plans to construct a tunnel linking Africa to Europe under the Mediterranean Sea from the northern tip of Algeria through to Gibraltar.'
What about a much needed railroad or highway linking the continent, from Algiers to Antananarivo? The fact that NEPAD was conceived by a small group of African leaders, without any input from the masses, coupled with the rush to the G8 (G8 2002) for the programe's endorsement, made several AU leaders question the wisdom of the entire enterprise. One such critic was Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, who said: 'People are sick and tired of African beggars. Nobody will ever develop your country for you. I am not criticising NEPAD, but the way it was conceived to be dependent on begging' (Lokongo 2002, p. 18).
Needless to say, NEPAD, as presently constituted, has the potential of dividing, not unifying, Africa: The G8, on which the AU relies for the programme's major funding, has already made it clear that it would only help African countries 'whose performance reflects the NEPAD commitments' (G8 2002). Western nations can thus pick and choose which AU member states are deserving of assistance, and those that are not. The overall effect would not be a stronger Africa. At best, it would reward individual African countries for good behaviour. Thus one cannot expect NEPAD to transform Africa from its disarticulated, dependent and underdeveloped status.
When it comes to politics, it has been established that the AU’s founding majority has no desire for a supranational political entity that would lead to a full and complete African unity. Africa today therefore does not have one state to represent it or a single voice to articulate its concerns in the international system; hence no power. Also, the political map of African remains a sacred cow despite the fact that Africa’s 165 demarcated borders (the world’s most fragmented region) have in of themselves become the basis of many African conflicts. Unfortunately, Article 4(b) of the AU Constitutive Act, like Article 3(3) of the OAU charter before it, affirms these colonial demarcations.
The AU should amend the principle of inviolability of the colonial borders and negotiate new boundaries that have more meaning for Africans. It must be borne in mind that the carving up of Africa in 1884 was not meant to unify, but rather to divide the continent. These are by no means easy political choices, but African leaders have to confront them before any real chance of optimising Africa’s power can be realised.
Politically, it seems what binds the AU is a professed commitment to democracy and good governance. Even on this score, the AU’s efforts so far have, at best, been confused. This is because the AU has no established criteria on what constitutes ‘good governance’ or ‘democracy’, beyond the minimalist procedural requisites of free and fair elections.
At its inaugural launch in July 2001, the AU barred Madagascar from the new organisation and refused to recognise Ravalomanana as Madagascar’s new president, citing the contentious nature of the elections and the unorthodox way Mr. Ravalomanana consolidated his 'victory'. The AU maintained that it would admit Madagascar only if fresh presidential elections were held. That the AU showed resolve early, on a key principle on which it was founded is noteworthy. But it appears, in this particular case, that the resolve shown was not carefully thought through. Madagascar’s Supreme Court ruling that Ravalomanana’s victory and government were legitimate, coupled with dissent among AU members on the issue, should have given the AU pause and deep reflection on its decision.
Not long after AU’s decision, several African countries (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Libya and the Comoros islands) broke ranks with the AU and endorsed Ravalomanana’s government – so much for Africa speaking with a single voice! The AU did a face saving U-turn and recognised Ravalomanana the following year, a move which no doubt has cost AU some credibility, especially since no new presidential elections were held.
In any case, on the democracy question, the AU does not have much credibility to begin with: African leaders do not easily give up the reins of power, and represent some of the world’s longest-serving presidents. The following sample proves the point: Gabon's Omar Bongo Ondimba has been at the helm of his nation for 40 years. Libya has been under Muammar Al Qathafi for 38 years. Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos has 28 years under his belt. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has been in power for 27 years.
If the AU were serious about democratic values and good governance, membership of that body should not have been automatic, but rather, granted on merit or a set of political criteria. For example, the basic membership prerequisites of the European Union (after which the AU is modelled) has three basic thematic criteria - political, economic and institutional - also known as the Copenhagen Criteria), where the political criteria directs the applicant country to achieve stability of its institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
What the AU needs now is clear and consistent guidelines on what it considers to be the consent of the governed and enforcement mechanisms to ensure strict compliance. Ideally, the democratic principles advocated must be compatible with the values and practices of the African society.
More than Pan-Africanism
Aside from the lack of, and/or commitment to, a transformative and empowering ideology based on Pan-Africanism, the OAU did not flourish, due to operational failures caused by a lack of popular legitimacy, administrative bottlenecks and financial stress. I will only discuss here the issue of popular legitimacy.
A major hurdle to the OAU’s efficacy was that it was a state-centric elite political organisation that did little to involve the average African in its operations and decision making. Consequently, it had a flag and an anthem that no one saluted or recognised, and an Africa Day that was hardly celebrated.
As indicated, the AU promises citizen involvement and participation. Especially the Pan African Parliament (PAP) holds promise of broadly representing the African citizenry. Though in its first five years of existence, the Pan African Parliament is to have advisory and consultative powers only. A lot more can be done to make it an effective body by 2007, when it assumes legislative functions.
First, the PAP representation should be broadened with respect to gender, the African diaspora constituency and cross-national party coalitions. The seat currently allocated to women members in the PAP now stands at 20 per cent. This can be said to be a good beginning, however, there is room for improvement as this 20 per cent quota is 10 per cent less than that which the Fourth UN Conference on Women urged as minimum for women parliamentarians. While it is true that representation of women in African national parliaments is scarce, it is not unreasonable to increase their quota, especially if we consider the fact that African women hold the keys to Africa’s overall development.
Next, is the issue of diaspora representation. Following a proposal by the Senegalese government that diaspora Africans be considered the 'Sixth Region' of Africa, the AU has been working on the institutional development of the African diaspora in organs. This is a move in the right direction, toward the pan-africanist goal of an empowered African collective at the global level.
The challenge the AU faces is to clearly define the criteria for membership of the African diaspora, its rights, duties and privileges. The African diaspora constituency must be accorded real and tangible (and not merely symbolic) membership. Their representation in the PAP will signal that the AU is serious in its efforts to integrate the continent and the diaspora.
A final area where PAP representation can be made more inclusive is to provide mechanisms that allow the development of continent-wide political groupings, as opposed to national parties now envisaged for the PAP. Should this occur, the PAP members could form coalitions along ideological and tactical directions such as workers, pan-Africanists, liberals, socialists, conservatives etc.
The AU will continue, in the foreseeable future, to be an important vehicle for addressing the continent’s numerous projects. But the AU cannot empower and develop Africa, nor guarantee Africa’s collective security, nor provide a common platform for Africa’s collective diplomacy if the AU remains the way it is today: bereft of a genuine commitment to Pan-Africanism and an empowered African superstate.
Moving beyond this status quo would require, amongst other things, leaders who share a pan-Africanist commitment, and who are willing to engage the African citizenry in a search for solutions that preserves Africa’s independence and dignity: strategies which reflect Africa’s image and interests. As we have seen, much work must be done before the dream of the collective empowerment of all African peoples comes true; until then, the dream of African unity remains only a mirage.
(See http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/42077 for full list of references)
*Dr. Kwame Akonor is director of the African Development Institute (ADI), a New York based think tank that advocates self-reliant and endogenous development policies for Africa. He is also Assistant Professor of International Relations at Seton Hall University, and acting Chair of the Africana Studies Department. The full text of 'Stuffing Old Wine in New Bottles: The Case of the Africa Union' will be published in Africa in the 21st Century: Toward a New Future edited by Ama Mazama (Routledge 2007).
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
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Continental government from the perspective of women
Faiza Jama Mohamed
Before African governments can win the confidence of African women that they will deliver on huge projects like a continental government, they must first come up with a plan for the implementation of the articles of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, argues Faiza Mohamed. African leaders should get rid of all the customary practices that continue to limit women’s potentials as a necessary step for continental government.
Barely two weeks from the time of writing, African heads of state and government will be meeting for their 10th ordinary summit in Accra for a grand debate on the prospects of creating a government of African states. In the build up to this historic debate, civil society organisations have been vigorously consulting and busy in awakening public interest in the matter with a view to maximising the African public’s participation in the discussion about the added value of having one government for Africa. Sadly, time has been short, and African leaders are moving ahead with their debate without greater input from the African peoples that they represent. This brief article is an attempt to bring some of the concerns African women would like their African leaders to consider in their striving for a United African States (UAS).
One of the advantages of a UAS that has been highlighted a lot is the free movement of peoples and goods throughout the continent. While the dismantling of artificial boundaries created by colonial powers long ago would be a great welcome to the peoples of Africa, and especially those who were hindered from freely connecting with their relatives living on the other side of the border, women in the Upper Volta region of Ghana who are held bondage under the traditional practice of Trokosi share no joy in this potential euphoria over free movement in the continent.
For those who do not know of this practice, trokosi in the Ewe language means 'slaves of the gods'. What this tradition entails is that families who have commited crimes have to give away their virgin daughters to priests, so that the gods will be pleased and forgive them of their crimes. There are two categories of trokosi – those who can be released after serving a specified number of years (usually three to five years) and those who are committed for life. If a girl dies or if the priest tires of her, her family has to replace her. For serious crimes, families give up generations of girls in perpetual atonement. In accordance with the tradition, a trokosi who is released can never be married because she is married for life to the god.
Many released trokosi hence remain in concubinage to the priest for the rest of their lives and when he dies his trokosi are passed on to his successor. Women and girls who are victims of this practice know of no freedom of their minds and bodies, let alone freedom to travel in their villages. For them, free movement in Africa, as championed in the continental government proposal, will bring no comfort.
Though Ghana has passed a law in 1998 criminalising the trokosi practice, hundreds of girls and women are believed to be still held in several shrines. It is ironic that discussion on African unity is being discussed in Ghana where women and girls are being held as slaves for life. The African leaders should include seriously looking into and abolishing practices such as trokosi that enslave women and girls and infringe on their dignity and well-being.
Another advantageous point highlighted in the continental proposal is how Africa will be in a stronger position in trade agreements with non-Africans; and how this will bring greater benefits to the peoples of Africa. By and large, women remain the majority of those tilling Africa’s productive lands, and thus are responsible for produces that feed Africa and beyond. Alas they remain the poorest with no control over the lands they till and the crops they harvest.
For the African peoples to prosper, it is necessary that African leaders take the logical action to get rid of all the customary practices that continue to limit women’s potentials to inherit and own land. As they deliberate on serious discussion on ways to realise the United African States, they also need to recognise the need to have a roadmap for placing women’s economic empowerment in the front for actualisation of Africa’s growth and development.
In July 2003, our African leaders adopted the protocol on the rights of women which aims to address the many injustices that African women suffer from, including those discussed here, and which reduce their potentials to effectively contribute to the development and wellbeing of the African population. Four years later, only 21 countries (39 per cent) out of the 53 member states of the African Union have ratified it.
The majority of the member states are lagging behind in their commitment to women to enjoy the rights recognised in the protocol, which stands for the minimum standard of rights that African women would accept and so in their Accra deliberations the African leaders need not only to reaffirm their commitment to uphold the rights provided in the protocol but to also declare that it will be the premise from which African women’s rights will be advanced. For them to win the confidence of African women that they can undertake and deliver on huge projects like a continental government, they must first come out with a plan for the implementation of the articles of the protocol throughout the continent within a one year period. A United African States will be possible ifAfrica’s women are with you!
* Faiza Jama Mohamed is the Africa Regional Director of Equality Now and convener of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) coalition.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
SOAWR policy brief on continental government
Solidarity for African Women's Rights
The 9th Assembly of the African Union Heads of States and Governments will convene from 1-3 July 2007 in Accra, Ghana under the theme, ‘The Grand Debate on the Union Government.’ It is significant that the debate takes place nearly two years since the ratification of the African Union Protocol to the Charter of African Women’s Rights, and three years since the adoption of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, which reaffirms the commitment of African States to advance the agenda of gender equality. Both instruments provide a critical framework to address the rights of women and girls in Africa. To date 21countries have ratified the protocol on Women’s Rights, leaving 32 yet to ratify. The delay in ratification of the protocol by member states of the union undermines the universal achievement of continental standards on women’s rights.
In the proposal of the Union Government lies a long held vision to consolidate African unity, and an affirmation of the quest to unite Africa’s peoples across shared values and rights. Unfortunately, across the continent, the status of women continues to deteriorate under war and conflict, deeply rooted economic inequality, repressive undemocratic regimes, domestic violence and trauma, harmful cultural practices and poverty. In spite of the continental instruments for change, women’s rights remain elusive.
At the heart of the union debate must be a commitment to unite Africa’s people across gender by upholding respect for women’s rights and equality of opportunities for both men and women.
Specifically, the African Heads of States and Government meeting in Accra should show commitment to continental unity by embracing the following:
• Incorporation of gender equality in the values underpinning the Proposal of United States of Africa
• Instituting and making public during the next Summit a performance audit of the Directorates of the African Union Commission in terms of the incorporation of gender concerns (2004-2007)
• Prioritization of the rights and entitlements of refugees and displaced populations, particularly women and girls.
• Prioritization of full citizenship status for women in terms of rights, particularly women who marry across nationalities and lose their rights.
• Guarantee to women the freedom to trade and work across states’ borders. Women small traders manage a high degree of non-formal cross border trade
• Conduct analysis into the gendered implications of macroeconomic policy with respect to the ‘convergence criteria’.
• Enable total factor mobility—the free movement of all factors of production (labour as well as capital)—by addressing questions of African citizenship, including African women’s equal citizenship rights and freedom of movement at the continental level.
• Embedding the principle of gender parity in the election and appointment of persons to the continental institutions.
• Ensuring that the principle of appointing 50% women commissioners at the African Union Commission continues to be honored.
• Increasing the minimum threshold for women MPs elected to the African parliament to at least two per country
• Review all recommendations (in the continental government proposal) in light of deficiencies already noted by the African women’s movement with respect to ensuring the equal representation of African women at the AU’s highest decision-making organs—for instance, the Commission’s Chair could also have a Deputy responsible for gender mainstreaming across her/his ‘Cabinet’ and all Commissioners responsible for programs and projects under the strategic focus areas should ensure that gender implications are taken into account in their elaboration and implementation;
• Publicly censuring countries that have yet to ratify the Protocol on the Rights of African Women.
• Honor their commitment to deliver on the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa.
• Demonstrate greater commitment to the normative framework already established by the AU—particularly with respect to the promotion and protection of human rights (including women’s human rights), peace and security.
The debate on the Union Government is timely, but it will only be relevant in as far as it will recognize that the majority of the African people are women and girls; and that to win their confidence African Leaders need to seriously take up their concerns head on.
The demand for common citizenship
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
Any serious talk of building a United States of Africa must begin with the need to guarantee full citizenship rights to all Africans, and the complimentary freedoms to move, settle, work and participate in the political processes anywhere they may be, argues Tajudeen Abdul Raheem. This is the only thing that would convince us that our leaders are serious.
I want to begin this in a personal way because the issues we are dealing with are not theoretical or rhetorical. They are about our rights and dignity as a people. They are too important for us not to recognise them as validating ‘the personal is political’ dictum made famous by the women’s movement.
I am blessed with two daughters who are growing up in the United Kingdom. They became British citizens at birth, in spite of the fact that their mother and myself were only British residents when they were born. Both girls enjoy all the rights and entitlements of British children in terms of free and compulsory education from nursery through to secondary education and up to university, if they so choose. They are also entitled to prescription free medicine until they are 16. In some sense the sky may be their limit in terms of individual ambitions. Of course, like every other British child, they will have to deal with racial, religious, class and other prejudices as they grow up, and deal with them as and when necessary, especially racial discrimination.
If they had been born in a majority of our countries the fact of being children of residents does not automatically mean that they qualify for the citizenship of the country in which they were born. The circumstances of their birth, which they did not choose, becomes a disadvantage from which they will never be able to escape for all their lives. At the height of the state sponsored Anti Ban Yarwanda (in practice Anti Tutsi) during the Obote 2 regime in Uganda, one of his xenophobic ministers reportedly declared: 'does the fact that a Sheep was born in a Kraal make it a cow?', continuing that 'a Muyarwanda born in Uganda even if he or she dies and is buried in Uganda remains a Muyarwanda'. In this type of mindset and the legal and political regime constructed on it, identity becomes a prison, from which a person will never escape. There is nothing wrong in a Muyarwanda remaining a Muyarwanda all their lives, but if that identity is now used to justify discrimination against the person, marginalise them and deny the right to full participation in the economic, social and political affairs of the country then it is no longer a question of origin but politics and power.
This is the common practice across this continent. In order to disclaim and disempower people, we first deny them their right to citizenship. It is an affirmation of the negative: 'not belonging' or 'not one of us'. Even those to whom we can not deny those rights, because we cannot prove that their parents or grandparents come from another country, we proceed to the second default position: 'settlers' , i.e. not indigenous/ancestrally to that area, even if they are from other parts of the same country. So the same Ugandans will argue that a Muchiga from Kabale born and brought up in Kabarole or Hoima are settlers, because their ancestors do not originate from Toro or Bunyoro.
Nigerians have perfected this type of discrimination by requiring on official forms declaration of STATE OF RESIDENCE and STATE OF ORIGIN. The former may, given the decades, and in some cases, centuries, of internal migration, not reveal the ethnicity of the person, but the latter certainly will. Origin requires stating your ancestry where your parents or grandparents or even great grandparents come from. It means that third generation or more of Igbo, Kalabari, Hausa, Itsekiri and other non Yoruba Nigerians in Lagos may still be regarded as 'foreigners’, just as several generations of Yorubas or Igbos in northern Nigeria will be branded 'non indigenes' with serious implications for their citizenship rights, access to state resources and political participation.
There is no worse time for these denials of rights to come to the fore than during elections. All British residents from the Commonwealth, including temporary residents like students could vote in British elections, yet Africans born and brought up in different African countries, many of them with no knowledge or experience of the other country, can neither vote nor be voted for in many countries of birth. Elections are supposed to be exclusively 'for indigenes' but even among the so called 'indigenes' the right to participate is often limited to voting for those Nigerians called 'sons of the soil' (and they are always 'sons' because patriachy disempowers women in land and other property). So somebody of Igbo ancestry may vote in Lagos, but he or she will face enormous prejudice if he or she decides to stand for public office because, despite being a melting pot of all kinds of peoples including other West Africans and descendants of freed slaves from Brazil, somehow Lagos is still believed to be a Yoruba place, and has to be represented by 'proper Yoruba' . The ridiculous thing about this narrow indigeneity is that an overwhelming majority of the Yorubas who now claim Lagos as theirs were migrants from other parts of the Yoruba inter-land! Similarly if someone of Yoruba or Igbo origin, no matter how distant, decides to become governor or legislator in Kano (another city built out of free flow of peoples from all corners of the Sahel and Nigeria, and also Arabia due to the trans-Saharan trade), he or she will be reminded that he/she does not belong.
In Kenya, where I now reside, there is by far greater excitement, speculation and confidence among Kenyans about the chances of Barrack Obama winning the Democratic nomination and proceeding to becoming the first Black President of the USA than you will find among American voters themselves. All because his late father was a Kenyan. But ask the same Kenyans about the chances of Raila Odinga, a frontrunner for the presidential candidature of the opposition ODM-Kenya, many of them will declare bluntly: no way, he can't make it, he is Luo. But so was Obama's father, therefore Barrack is, by our immutable patriarchal genealogy, a Luo. Why are we enthusiastic about a Luo man becoming the president of the USA, but give no chance to a fellow Luo who wants to be president of Kenya where majority Luo people reside? It is alright in America, but somehow not kosher here in Kenya. If Obama does not get the nomination many Africans will put it down to racism. So what is it when we discriminate against fellow Africans in countries where the bulk of the population are Africans?
Part of the excuses (not explanations, mark you) you get when discussing the Raila presidential ambitions is that he comes from a minority ethnic group and that there was no way the majority Kikuyu will allow it. In the same breath you will be assured that whoever Raila supports may win. So you get this contradictory position of Raila (and Luos) forever playing the role of kingmakers, never to be kings themselves.
A situation whereby whole groups of fellow citizens are reduced to playing second class roles cannot lead to a viable democratic society. If you ask many Nigerians about the chances of someone from the oil-producing Niger Delta becoming president of the country they will give you all kinds of evasive answers. But behind it all is the unwritten law that the presidency of the country belongs to a certain dominant group, almost in perpetuity, despite the fact that these majority groups are parasites on resources that come predominantly from minority areas.
It is only when talking about oil that many Nigerians become very nationalistic, and accuse anyone who asks for sensitivity towards the people, from whose shores the Black Gold flows, of wanting to break up Nigeria. Some Nigerians even argue that the oil producing states already get more than enough share of the oil resources from the central government and challenged them to show what they have done with it.
The wider question is: what have the governments of Nigeria done with the resources of the country? If the leaders hah used the resources for the benefit of the great majority of the citizens, the issue will not have become as politicised and polarised as it has become. Of what value is being a Nigerian to most of the peoples in the Niger Delta who have continued to harvest death and destruction from the oil resources in their areas. It is dodging the question to accuse them of separatism. No country should be a catholic marriage, in which there cannot be the possibility of divorce.
The possibility of divorce does not mean that all marriages will end in one. What will make people voluntarily show their loyalty and commitment to any political community is their level of security, confidence and identification with it as stakeholders who know that the state will be there for them to protect them and defend their interests.
It is the absence of these that has made many of our states illegitimate in the eyes and practice of many Africans. And that is why every little thing threatens these states.
What can be done? We can not run away from the problems of citizenship on this continent anymore. As we discussed during the launch of the Citizenship Rights in Africa Initiative (CRAI) in Kampala recently, millions of Africans are today victims of the arbitrary denial of citizenship and consequent statelessness.
A situation in which Africans with non-African citizenship can feel more secure and exercise full rights of political participation in their adopted countries than in many of our countries has to be reversed immediately.
To return to the case of my daughters, the prejudices and discrimination they will face In many African countries may not just be because their parents were residents, or settlers. The fact of both of their parents coming from different countries will not be a bonus, but another disadvantage. They may not have automatic right to their mother's citizenship. In fact in some countries their mum may not take them to her home country without their father's 'permission' because the father 'owns' the children!
Many African women married to other Africans from different countries suffer discrimination both ways: punished for not marrying wisely! At home they will foreignise them, and in the country of their husbands, they remain foreigners. Show me any country in Africa where a Sonia Ghandi could be leading even a minor political party, no matter who her husband may have been.
The first thing we need to do is to reconcile our states to the diversity of our peoples by giving African citizenship to all Africans wherever they may be.
I know that a number of questions will be posed, the principal one being 'who is an African?' A simple answer will be any citizen of any African country no matter how that citizenship was acquired including ancestry, indigeneity, settlement, marriage, naturalisation and any other legally recognised means. Another question will be 'where does the African diaspora come in?' They will qualify under ancestry but also voluntary naturalisation.
Some countries have adjusted to granting dual or multiple citizenship, but only for remittance purposes in most cases. Because of the growing role that remittances from Africans abroad play in holding families and communities together, many countries now recognise the right of their citizens to have other citizenship, therefore abandoning the previous ‘either’ ‘or’ exclusion. But even here, there is a catch: dual citizenship is often assumed to be one of African citizenship and a European or north American one. For someone like me who was born Nigerian and have had a Ugandan passport for more than ten years, there were always suspicions among immigration and security officials. Somehow it is alright for an African to hold Western passports but deemed 'odd' to be a dual African citizen. This further goes to prove that we continue to treat ourselves as foreigners.
The granting of African citizenship will not automatically solve all the problems of ethnicity, racism, exclusionism and intolerance. What it will set is a new and more inclusive legal and political framework for us to deal with these problems as equal members of a shared political community without anyone of us feeling superior or inferior, or at the mercy of other citizens. It will be like being members of the same family. No matter how much you may dislike your brother or sister, cousin or uncle, when it comes to family affairs you all have equal right of participation. There is an African saying that no matter how close a friend may be, the day we want to worship our ancestors he or she has to excuse himself or herself.
Whatever problems there may be, we can then resolve them among ourselves. And if we cannot, we will learn to understand and manage them without the threat of opponents being foreignised and declared stateless.
Any serious talk of building a United States of Africa that does not begin from this fundamental reconfiguration of our legal and political status within such a state will be doomed from the start. The continuing challenges to regional and continental integration for the past 50 years since independence from colonialism largely stem from the anomaly of seeking to unite our artificial states while keeping our peoples apart.
In West Africa, which has had free movement for three decades, it is still common to find citizens of other West African countries 'deported' and routinely harassed and victims of extortions by various security, intelligence and immigration officials at various border points and inside West African countries.
The problem is not with the right to move freely but the lack of political will to take further complementary steps to make regional citizenship real for the peoples of the region. These will include faster progress on regional liberalisation and harmonisation of trade, financial and commercial transactions within the region. In spite of free movement market traders, the famous West African market women, who keep their families, communities and the whole region going through their micro enterprises are still subjected to all kinds of extortion at border points in a way that criminalises intra-regional trade. Instead of saluting and encouraging these 'cross border' traders as the Pan Africanist entrepreneurs that they are, we criminalise them as 'smugglers' and euphemistically call their exchanges 'informal sector' , 'second sector' or 'parallel market'.
Yet the truth is that the majority of our peoples survive directly or indirectly in these sectors. Any Pan Africanist economist who is not allowing theory to confuse him or her can easily see that this is the real African economy. It is the state sector that needs to give way to the real thing and find ways of collecting the taxes that are currently going into private pockets at our various corruption extortion posts called borders.
The East Africa Community in its steady march towards the creation of a federation seem to be unlearning some of its own previous effort and learning well from the challenges in the ECOWAS region. It is merging freedom of movement with complimentary whittling down of barriers to trade, finance and commerce and removing all kinds of unnecessary bureaucratic bottle necks. For instance, a visa for non community citizens and residents to one of the countries is now valid for re-entry from all the three countries and very soon Rwanda and Burundi too. It also has a legislative Assembly and regional court that are potentially more powerful than what is available in the ECOWAS and also the Pan African Parliament.
If the leaders of Africa want to be taken seriously and silence the cynicism that has continued to dominate any discussion about the African Union, they need to demonstrate they have the required political will and are ready to use them to deliver a truly people-driven union.
One major area that will affect everybody immediately and transform people's perception is guaranteeing full citizenship rights to all Africans with its complimentary freedom to move, settle, work and participate in the political processes anywhere they may be. This will mean that we cease to require dehumanising visa regimes that make it almost impossible to travel legally across the continent. Pan African trade will no longer be criminalised as 'smuggling'.
It means the Pan African Parliament should be given full legislative powers and its elections can be held on a Pan African adult suffrage. Pan African Affairs will no longer be in Foreign Affairs but become part of the domestic political contestations. Africans will no longer be undesirable 'aliens' across Africa. The humiliation of beings 'others' in Europe and treated as 'others' at home will be ended. And we can all arrive at border posts with pride at the welcoming notices proclaiming 'Africans this way' and 'Others...this way'!
This will put African people at the centre of the 'Grand Debate', instead of them being cynical observers, as many are at the moment, or, worse still, completely unconcerned.
*Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is the deputy director of the UN Millennium Campaign in Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also General Secretary of the Global Pan African Movement, based in Kampala, Uganda. He writes this article in his personal capacity as a concerned pan-Africanist.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
L. Muthoni Wanyeki
This paper attempts to re-visit the history of African unity and highlight the reasons for the current impetus toward union among Africa’s leadership; explore the implications of the union on Africa’s current inter-governmental organisation, the AU; outline challenges to the union project and set out conditions for its success.
The upcoming mid-year African Union (AU) summit of heads of state and government has as its primary agenda a ‘Grand Debate on the Union Government’. The ideological differences present in the first three decades of Africa’s political independence seem to have been rendered irrelevant due to the current ascendancy of neoliberalism as the only valid ideological basis for economic organisation both within national political-economies as well as globally. But new political distinctions have emerged - in part due to the emergence of the so-called ‘new breed’ of African leaders following the end of apartheid in South Africa and the movements towards political pluralism elsewhere. Such leaders have posited themselves as both able and willing to speak and act on behalf of the rest of Africa - Africa presented as being determined to re-birth itself as encapsulated in the concept of the ‘African renaissance’. Similarly, economic distinctions are now also clear - in part as a result of the economic directions initially pursued post-independence, in part due to variations in both the presence and utilisation of mineral and other natural resources and in part due to governance.
The result is that certain African states are, in effect, positioned as metropoles for the other African peripheries. Such African states, worried about the potential impact of union on their national political-economies, are hesitant about the potential for immediate union. Other African states, seeing nothing but advantages from a union, argue that, given Africa’s diversity, there will never be an ideal time and now is as good a time as any. Others are simply sceptical.
The scepticism is not unwarranted? Has the time come for union? Is Africa’s leadership genuinely ready for what union would entail?
The ‘Grand Debate’ in (fittingly) Accra this June seems set to answer these questions. While idea of the ‘Grand Debate’ may seem incredible given the lack of popular awareness of (let alone informed debates around) the process leading up to it, its potential impact on Africa and African peoples’ is not in question. But the process leading up to it is informed by motivations and rationales that are not as incredible. In fact, an exploration of these motivations and rationales reveal the process leading up to the ‘Grand Debate’ as somewhat inevitable - informed both by history and by the current context of Africa within the global political economy.
This paper thus attempts to re-visit that history and highlight the reasons for the current impetus toward union among Africa’s leadership; explore the implications of the union on Africa’s current intergovernmental organisation, the AU; outline challenges to the union project and set out conditions for its success. In so doing, the paper sets out and critically assesses the study which will inform ‘the Grand Debate,’ and drawing from debates within African civil society (including the African women’s movement) on the experience of the AU to date. It also assesses the financial proposals made by the study from the perspective of theory relating to processes of integration.
It concludes by noting that the time frame given in the study is too short. The low level of public awareness about the study, its recommendations and the upcoming ‘Grand Debate’ are bound to militate against implementation of the recommendations - even if the idea of pan-Africanism is an idea that has long been aspired to. The recommendations will be seen as imposed on African populations from the top-down, rather than arising from a consultative process which all Africans buy into and support. In addition, the financial proposals in particular cannot be achieved (as the study itself notes) within the nine years. Technical questions aside, they hinge on critical pre-conditions for success such as, at best, African citizenship (including African women’s autonomous citizenship rights) or, at least, freedom of movement across the continent - the achievement of either which will be difficult to implement given the varied economic performance of individual African states as well as the persistence of internal conflicts across the region.
This is not, however, to suggest that the study’s recommendations are unfeasible. True, the experience of the AU to date paints a picture of somewhat inconsistent and patchy progress that is more incipient than felt on the ground. But it also points to a significant shift towards meaningful collective action that bodes well for further intensification of the regional integration agenda.
But for the study’s recommendations to be achieved and the clarion call ‘Africa Unite’ to be realised, political will will need to be built up at the highest and lowest levels. Enhanced delivery by the AU as currently constituted is critical. While working towards an aspirational framework within a more reasonable timeframe, the focus should now be on resolving the gap between the AU’s normative framework and institutional and programmatic or project delivery.
* This paper was commissioned by, and reproduced here with the kind permission of, the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP), a project of the Open Society Institute (OSI).
* L. Muthoni Wanyeki is a political scientist based in Nairobi, Kenya.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
L. Muthoni Wanyeki
L. Muthoni Wanyeki is a political scientist based in Nairobi, Kenya
Africa unite…because we are moving right out of Babylon…(1)
The ultimate objective is to achieve, through political, economic, social and cultural integration, a strong multi-racial and multi-ethnic united Africa, based on the principles of justice, peace, solidarity and the judicious exploitation of its human and natural resources. (2)
1. Executive summary
The upcoming mid-year African Union (AU) summit of heads of state and government has as its primary agenda a ‘Grand Debate on the Union Government.’ The ideological differences present in the first three decades of Africa’s political independence seem to have been rendered irrelevant due to the current ascendancy of neo-liberalism as the only valid ideological basis for economic organisation both within national political-economies as well as globally. But new political distinctions have emerged—in part due to the emergence of the so-called ‘new breed’ of African leaders following the end of apartheid in South Africa and the movements towards political pluralism elsewhere. Such leaders have posited themselves as both able and willing to speak and act on behalf of the rest of Africa—Africa presented as being determined to re-birth itself as encapsulated in the concept of the ‘African renaissance’. Similarly, economic distinctions are now also clear—in part as a result of the economic directions initially pursued post-independence, in part due to variations in both the presence and utilisation of mineral and other natural resources and in part due to governance.
The result is that certain African states are, in effect, positioned as metropoles for the other African peripheries. Such African states, worried about the potential impact of union on their national political-economies, are hesitant about the potential for immediate union. Other African states, seeing nothing but advantages from a union, argue that, given Africa’s diversity, there will never be an ideal time and now is as good a time as any. Still others are simply sceptical.
The scepticism is not unwarranted? Has the time come for union? Is Africa’s leadership genuinely ready for what union would entail?
The ‘Grand Debate’ in (fittingly) Accra this June seems set to answer these questions. While idea of the ‘Grand Debate’ may seem incredible given the lack of popular awareness of (let alone informed debates around) the process leading up to it, its potential impact on Africa and African peoples’ is not in question. But the process leading up to it is informed by motivations and rationales that are not as incredible. In fact, an exploration of these motivations and rationales reveal the process leading up to the ‘Grand Debate’ as somewhat inevitable—informed both by history and by the current context of Africa within the global political-economy.
This paper thus attempts to re-visit that history and highlight the reasons for the current impetus toward union among Africa’s leadership; explore the implications of the union on Africa’s current intergovernmental organisation, the AU; outline challenges to the union project and set out conditions for its success. In so doing, the paper sets out and critically assesses the study
which will inform ‘the Grand Debate,’ and drawing from debates within African civil society (including the African women’s movement) on the experience of the AU to date. It also assesses the financial proposals made by the study from the perspective of theory relating to processes of integration.
It concludes by noting that the time frame given in the study is too short. The low level of public awareness about the study, its recommendations and the upcoming ‘Grand Debate’ are bound to militate against implementation of the recommendations—even if the idea of pan-Africanism is an idea that has long been aspired to. The recommendations will be seen as imposed on African populations from the top-down, rather than arising from a consultative process which all Africans buy into and support. In addition, the financial proposals in particular cannot be achieved (as the study itself notes) within the nine years. Technical questions aside, they hinge on critical pre-conditions for success such as, at best, African citizenship (including African women’s autonomous citizenship rights) or, at least, freedom of movement across the continent—the achievement of either which will be difficult to implement given the varied economic performance of individual African states as well as the persistence of internal conflicts across the region.
This is not, however, to suggest that the study’s recommendations are unfeasible. True, the experience of the AU to date paints a picture of somewhat inconsistent and patchy progress that is more incipient than felt on the ground. But it also points to a significant shift towards meaningful collective action that bodes well for further intensification of the regional integration agenda.
But for the study’s recommendations to be achieved and the clarion call ‘Africa Unite’ to be realised, political will will need to be built up at the highest and lowest levels. Enhanced delivery by the AU as currently constituted is critical. While working towards an aspirational framework within a more reasonable timeframe, the focus should now be on resolving the gap between the AU’s normative framework and institutional and programmatic/project delivery.
The upcoming mid-year African Union (AU) summit of heads of state and government has as its primary agenda a ‘Grand Debate on the Union Government.’
The debate comes half a century after the achievement of political independence from colonial rule of Ghana, whose founding head of state, Kwame Nkrumah, championed the cause of pan-African unity. From the perspective of those who believe in pan-Africanism, the debate is coming 50 years too late. But it is clear that the tensions that existed during Nkrumah’s time as to the proposition still persist, albeit for different motivations.
True, the so-called ‘Addis Ababa/Casablanca’ and ‘Monrovia’ groups no longer exist—the latter of which advocated a re-visiting of the borders drawn up as a result of the so-called ‘scramble for Africa’ and the Berlin Conference and an immediate union of the continent. The former, however, urged continental collaboration and cooperation by the autonomous states established by those borders. Certainly, the ideological differences present in the first three decades of Africa’s political independence seem to have been rendered irrelevant due to the current ascendancy of neo-liberalism as the only valid ideological basis for economic organisation both within national political-economies as well as globally. But new political distinctions have emerged—in part due to the emergence of the so-called ‘new breed’ of African leaders following the end of apartheid in South Africa and the movements towards political pluralism elsewhere. Such leaders have posited themselves as both able and willing to speak and act on behalf of the rest of Africa—Africa presented as being determined to re-birth itself as encapsulated in the concept of the ‘African renaissance’. Similarly, economic distinctions are now also clear—in part as a result of the economic directions initially pursued post-independence, in part due to
variations in both the presence and utilisation of mineral and other natural resources and in part due to governance.
The result is that certain African states are, in effect, positioned as metropoles for the other African peripheries. Such African states, worried about the potential impact of union on their national political-economies, are as hesitant about the potential for immediate union as was the so-called ‘Addis Ababa/Casablanca’ group of Nkrumah’s time. Other African states, seeing nothing but advantages from a union, argue that, given Africa’s diversity, there will never be an ideal time and now is as good a time as any. Still others are simply sceptical.
The scepticism is not unwarranted? Has the time come for union? Is Africa’s leadership genuinely ready for what union would entail?
The ‘Grand Debate’ in (fittingly) Accra this June seems set to answer these questions. While there has been a shameful paucity of African media coverage of the process leading to the ‘Grand Debate,’ it is certainly not as ill-conceived and spontaneous as that coverage would imply. It arises from the work of two committees of African heads of state and government convened under the AU, in part due to pressures from Libya, who determined that the necessity of union was no longer in doubt. The committees, however, noted that any union must be based on African peoples’ informed agreement on common values and interests and occur in an incremental and multilayered manner—with actions at the national level to resolve what were termed ‘internal contradictions’, using the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as building blocks and deepening the institutions of the current AU. The committees further noted that any union must be based on adherence. (3)
To elaborate on the recommendations of the committees, the AU Commission developed the ‘Study on an AU Government: Towards the United States of Africa (USA)’. This study was first tabled at the AU summit of June/July 2006 in Banjul. Discussions and decisions on it were deferred to the AU summit of January 2007 in Addis Ababa. At that time, it was decided it should be the primary focus of the mid-year AU summit in Accra—hence the ‘Grand Debate,’ currently in preparation by the AU’s Executive Council of African Ministers of Foreign Affairs meeting in May 2007. All these decisions were made at the level of Heads of State (informed by input from the usual summit process) with little reference to national legislatures or public consultation.
While idea of the ‘Grand Debate’ may seem incredible given the lack of popular awareness of (let alone informed debates around) the process leading up to it, its potential impact on Africa and African peoples’ is not in question. But the process leading up to it is informed by motivations and rationales that are not as incredible. In fact, an exploration of these motivations and rationales reveal the process leading up to the ‘Grand Debate’ as somewhat inevitable—informed both by history and by the current context of Africa within the global political-economy.
This paper thus attempts to re-visit that history and highlight the reasons for the current impetus toward union among Africa’s leadership; explore the implications of the union on Africa’s current intergovernmental organisation, the AU; outline challenges to the union project and set out conditions for its success. In so doing, the paper sets out and critically assesses the study and draws from the debates within African civil society (including the African women’s movement) on the experience of the AU to date. It also assesses, in particular, the financial proposals made by the study from the perspective of theory relating to processes of integration.
3. Some history
Pan-Africanism as an ideology was birthed by the struggles for both African independence from colonialism and an end to the systemic racial discrimination engendered by the enslavement of
African peoples in the Diaspora of the Americas and the Caribbean. Extolling pride in African ancestry and seeking to valorise African cultures and traditions, Pan-Africanism as an ideology could be (and was) critiqued as being essentialist in nature and potentially discriminatory against women. Questions of defining ‘Africans’ given the presence of both older ‘settler’ communities dating back to the colonial period and newer immigrant communities remain contested today. Similarly, questions persist as to the interpretation of culture and culture and tradition (and who holds the onus for such interpretation) as well as the need to understand culture and tradition in non-static ways.
That said, however, pan-Africanism had many adherents and critical supporters on the continent as well as in its Diaspora—African academics, artists and, importantly, political activists of Africa’s first independence generation. These political activists also professed a variety of other ideologies, infusing pan-Africanist ideals into ‘liberation’ platforms. ‘Liberation’ was necessarily understood as being both political and economic. Pan-Africanist political leaders of Africa’s independence generation thus stressed the need for political independence including unity and collective action as well as for economic self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
These political and economic imperatives never truly died away, despite the seeming resolution of them in the 1963 formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)—a compromise between the ‘Addis Ababa/Casablanca’ and ‘Monrovia’ groups, enabling African cooperation at the highest levels without a full continental union in the form of political federation and regional integration. The OAU’s liberation committee can be credited with its work towards political independence across the continent through the 1960s and 1970s as well as its work to end apartheid through to the 1990s. Over time, the OAU’s membership grew from 35 members to 53.
By the 1990s, the political imperative that underlay the founding of the OAU appeared to be achieved at the national level, but new political challenges emerged. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the so-called Cold War gave new impetus and enabled international support for the movements for political pluralism across the continent. The genocide in Rwanda posed difficult questions for the OAU regarding its role with respect to internal conflict, particularly when accompanied by grave or widespread human rights violations. The OAU’s African Commission on Human and People’s Rights—the regional human rights mechanism—re-strategised on how to exploit its mandate to the maximum extent possible in similar situations. (4) The questioning of previous rigid notions of state sovereignty and non-interference had begun.
It is this questioning that enabled the formation of the AU through the adoption of the Constitutive Act establishing the AU in 2002 in Maputo. Under the Constitutive Act, the AU differs significantly from its predecessor, the OAU. It highlights human rights, including gender equality and makes clear that state sovereignty and non-interference shall not apply in situations of grave or widespread human rights violations. Relevant institutions envisaged as needing creating and/or upgrading included the proposed African Court of Justice (the now merged African Court of Human Rights and Justice) as well as the Peace and Security Council (PSC). It also presents itself as being a union of African peoples, rather than African leaders, and allows for popular participation in the AU through institutions such as the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) and the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).
Meanwhile, in the wake of the structural adjustment programmes (SAP's) imposed on Africa’s dependent political-economies in the 1980s, the OAU had begun to question how best to address Africa’s economic imperative. Alongside the ‘democratisation’ process spawned by the movements for political pluralism, the economic liberalisation and privatisation process had begun. But, for the first time, Africa’s so-called ‘new breed’ of leadership seemed prepared to attribute Africa’s slide down the economic map not only to decreasing overseas development assistance (ODA) and related debt, limited foreign direct investment (FDI) except for resource-
extraction and unfair terms of trade. ‘Governance’ was also put on the table. The foundation document of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was thus based on an ‘exchange’—Africa was to address ‘governance’ and, in return, the Group of Eight (G8)—and the development financing states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in general–was to move on development financing in all relevant arenas. Thus the incorporation into the NEPAD of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)—essentially a state governance monitoring and evaluation tool to be acceded to voluntarily for assessment by peers from other states. Despite initial (and somewhat persistent) contention as to the NEPAD’s relationship to the emerging AU, the NEPAD was eventually adopted as the development programme of the AU.
A summary of critical moments in the process outlined above can be found in the box entitled ‘Timeline’ below:
1957 Ghanaian independence
1963 Formation of the OAU
1980 Lagos Platform for Action (LPA) and the Final Act of Lagos (FAL)
1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
1990 Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (AEC)
1990 Charter on Popular Participation in Development and Transformation
1991 Kampala Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA)
1995 Relaunching Africa’s Economic and Social Development: The Cairo Agenda for Action
1998 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
2000 OAU Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government
2000 Solemn Declaration on the CSSDCA
2000 Constitutive Act of the AU
2003 AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption
2003 Memorandum of Understanding on the APRM
2003 Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa
2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance
2006 Grand Debate on Union Government
Looking through at the timeline, several observations can be made. First, through the process, questions of political integration seemingly settled by the formation of the OAU were finally re-visited in new ways with the formation of the AU. However, institutional provisions necessary for both political and economic integration included in the Constitutive Act had, in fact, been anticipated in several documents adopted by the OAU. Primary among these was the Abuja Treaty establishing the AEC. . The Abuja Treaty not only set a timeline for the economic integration—to take place in six stages over 34 years—building on the RECs and envisaging an African Central Bank (ACB). It also anticipated the institutions enabling popular participation in the union through the ECOSOCC and the PAP.
Second, intensified consensus-building on norms on which to base political and economic integration were also set following the adoption of the Abuja Treaty. While the African Charter was notable for its inclusion of collective (‘peoples’) rights in line not only with purportedly
African ‘values’ but also with the right of all African peoples to self-determination, it is only following the adoption of the Abuja Treaty that these norms were elaborated on to reflect changes in Africa’s political-economic landscape such as the emergence of autonomous civil
society as well as the new focus on democracy, governance, human rights (including women’s human rights) and participation (including women’s participation). It is this process of consensus-building regarding norms that, to a large extent, enabled the definition of common values and common interests at the heart of the study to be debated in Accra.
4. The Study on an AU Government: towards the United States of Africa
4.1 The proposal
The study thus does not come out of the blue. It is informed both by the changed context in which Africa finds itself and by steady progress (at least at the declarative and normative levels) towards political and economic integration deemed necessary to address that changed context.
The study itself, while concise, is quite clear as to how this progress has informed the study—referencing back to many of the agreements made from the 1990s on. It briefly sets out the background and then moves on to set out: a framework for an AU government (including shared values and common interests, strategic focus areas to be agreed upon as ‘community domain’ and implications for the current institutions of the AU); and, finally, a roadmap towards achieving an AU government and, ultimately, a USA (a new acronym would, obviously, be appreciated).
Framework for an AU government (5)
Shared values and common interest
All African states are to be members of the AU government. Interestingly, associate membership is also anticipated from non-African states, depending on demographics. This is to accommodate participation by Africans in the Diaspora. Provisions relating to the Diaspora are actually found throughout the study—harking back to the ideals and proponents of pan-Africanism at its inception. It is important to note, however, that these provisions are now less idealistic than pragmatic, relating as they do to recognition of the new African Diaspora—economic and professional emigrants to the overdeveloped north whose remittances are increasingly recognised as being valuable to national African political-economies.
The section on shared values and common interests is of particular interest, articulating as it does a rationale for enhanced political and economic integration that is both internally and externally driven. (6) Derived from the OAU Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government, the CSSDCA, the Constitutive Act and the NEPAD, the shared values are seen as arising from Africa’s historical legacy as well as from current realities. They include supposedly cultural and traditional values (such as pride in African ancestry, humanness, protection of the weak, communalism and solidarity) as well as human rights as recognised in international law, participation, rule of law and transparency. They also make a fleeting reference to ‘indigenous’ knowledge and the need for synchronicity with ‘modern’ knowledge systems, although this is not elaborated on. What is important, however, is the acknowledgement of synchronicity with respect to cultural and traditional values and human rights—which are not, as has been typical, placed in opposition to one another. As this oppositional tension most frequently finds expression at the national level with respect to African women’s citizenship and equality, the need for the shared values to explicitly include gender equality should be evident. These shared values are aspects of the study’s content that could be described as ‘internally-driven,’ from within Africa itself.
Africa’s common interests, on the other hand, are clearly spelt out as being externally-driven, resulting from the challenge of dependence on the overdeveloped north. Referenced to the LPA, the Cairo Agenda for Economic and Social Development and NEPAD, the study highlights features of this dependence as including food insecurity, export-led growth (exports here being primary commodities and raw materials), ODA and debt as well as negative terms of trade. It
posits economic integration as a solution to this dependence, by creating a competitive market in which returns for investment can be realised, and by enabling the pooling required to generate energy and move to greater processing of primary commodities and raw materials. It also stresses the fact that political integration would create collective capacity for engagement in global governance institutions, thus giving Africa a voice and contributing to human dignity and progress in Africa.
Strategic focus areas
The strategic focus areas defined by the study are to become ‘community domain’—that is, areas over which state sovereignty will be ceded (at least partially) to the AU government for common action.(7) Referenced back to the LPA, the Abuja Treaty, the CSSDCA, the Constitutive Act and the NEPAD, they are 16 in number as follows:
• continental integration;
• education, training, skill development, science and technology;
• energy (including hydro, solar and other renewable forms of power);
• external relations (including the Diaspora);
• food, agriculture and water resources;
• gender and youth (with a focus on child labour, especially in the military);
• governance and human rights;
• industry and mining;
• money and finance;
• peace and security;
• social affairs and solidarity;
• sport and culture (referenced to the 1987 African Language Action Plan and including the Diaspora);
• trade and custom union (with the objective of ultimately enabling the free movement of persons within the continent);
• infrastructure, information and communication technologies (ICT) and biotechnologies.
Again, several observations can be made as to the areas defined. First, while it is obviously necessary to have an area focused on continental integration to monitor and evaluate the progress towards political and economic integration, it is hard to imagine how the area focused on external relations would work. True, the habit has developed of African consensus-building at the expert and ministerial levels of most sectors around which global negotiations take place. But diplomacy and foreign affairs as such are the sectors still most firmly in the grip of national
executives. Decision-making on these issues remains the most opaque and untransparent, rarely being subjected even to parliamentary debate—except occasionally around consequences of foreign policy decisions on national citizens. In addition, the reference to the Diaspora here is not elaborated on.
Second, the area focused on gender and youth is thin on substance. It is, in effect, too general to be clear what is intended under it—as is the area on social affairs and solidarity. Other areas such as those on industry and mining and infrastructure, ICT and biotechnologies are specifically referenced to the programmes and projects planned under the first United Nations (UN) Industrial Decade for Africa and the UN Transport and Communication Decades for Africa respectively. Specific aspirations with respect to these too generally defined strategic areas of focus as well as programmes and projects intended to be achieved under them should be spelt
out. In addition, the gendered implications of all strategic focus areas need to be highlighted, again in both aspirational as well as programmatic and project senses.
Third, some areas—such as those on governance and human rights and peace and security—are clear about deepening institutions and processes already underway and/or envisaged through the AU such as the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights and the African Stand-By Force (ASF)—intended to be Africa’s permanent peace-keeping army. One area, that on money and finance, using the RECs as building blocks, has to do with evolving such institutions—the African Investment Bank (AIB), the African Monetary Fund (AMF) and the African Central Bank (ACB) and catalysing such processes—from a customs and tax union to a monetary union.
In this sense, the strategic focus areas are based on a somewhat unwieldy mixture of pure aspirations, programmes and projects that have been only strategically planned, and institutions that are only partially underway. The process of establishing ‘community domain’ would probably have better prospects if it were, at least initially, based on collective programmes and projects that are already being implemented that require collective oversight of a kind not already exercised for common programmes and projects under the NEPAD or possible through emergent institutions.
That said, however, in the long-term, the strategic focus areas would probably inevitably be expressed in an aspirational sense—although these aspirations would need to be clear and evident enough to be able to fill them in substantively. By aspirations here are meant the shared values and common interests to be achieved through a union—perhaps based on achieving the promotion and substantive protection of norms already agreed to by African states under relevant regional and international law and policy, whether ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ in nature. As already alluded to above, these norms should explicitly include norms with respect to gender equality.
4.2 Institutional and programmatic implications
Institutional and programmatic implications of movement to an AU government are then spelt out for the Constitutive Act as well as for the AU institutions and specialised mechanisms.(8) They essentially have to do with amending the Constitutive Act as needed; enabling the Commission to exercise executive authority; ensuring the PAP’s representativity and enabling its legislative and oversight authority; enabling the African Court’s judicial and dispute-resolution authority; and catalysing the inception of the AU’s financial institutions. The need for both the ECOSOCC and the PAP to genuinely guarantee popular participation is also noted.
The Constitutive Act
With respect to amendments to the Constitutive Act, the study recommends revisions to determine the AU government’s mandate through a ‘giving over’ of state sovereignty. This would essentially define the strategic focus areas as ‘community domain’. Provisions to include the proposed financial institutions would also have to be included in these amendments.
The current ultimate decision-making body of the AU, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government would be revised so as to allow for a longer tenure for the President and, given its new demands, for the Presidency to be held by a former rather than a sitting Head of State or Government. The Executive Council would be re-designed to include national Ministers relevant to the strategic focus areas as well as national Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Meanwhile, the Permanent Representatives’ Council (PRC) of Ambassadors to the AU sitting in Addis Ababa would have its mandate revert to preparations for the Executive Council only.
The biggest change, as mentioned above, would be for the Commission. The Commissioners would become, in effect, more of a functional ‘cabinet’ leading ministries, rather than its current construction as a secretariat to the AU without policy-making functions. It would therefore be responsible for development and implementation of the strategic focus areas defined as part of the ‘community domain.’ The study thus recommends a stronger Chair for the Commission, with seven-year tenure and responsibility for hiring her/his Deputy and Commissioners according to the strategic focus areas—rather than having them appointed for him by the Assembly, as is currently the case.
As a result, the study also recommends the transformation of the NEPAD Secretariat in Cape Town into, in the interim, an AU office outside of Addis Ababa, the seat of the AU, and alignment of its current plans of action, programmes and projects with the strategic focus areas. It is also suggested that it share responsibility for implementation of programmes and projects under the strategic focus areas.
The review of the Protocol establishing the PAP, which was already envisaged after five years, is recommended as a matter of urgency. Suggested changes to the PAP include not only giving it the already anticipated legislative role, but also establishing direct elections to it on the basis of proportional representation and clearer links to national and sub-regional parliaments, rather than indirect elections from among existing national parliamentarians. An oversight role with respect to the Commission is also proposed.
The recommendations regarding the PAP, together with those requiring mandatory consultations with the ECOSOCC on affairs of the Commission, are also intended to enhance popular participation by Africans in the AU government.
That said, however, neither the PAP itself nor African civil society seem to believe the recommendations have gone far enough in promoting popular participation. The PAP has noted that not enough attention has been paid by the study to ensuring separation of powers and checks and balances between what will ultimately be the executive, legislative and judicial arms of the union. It also notes the need for capacity and resources, both financial and human to be able to play its anticipated role. (9) African civil society, on the other hand, remains adamant about the need for wider popular engagement with the study before the ‘Grand Debate’ through debates in national parliaments and national consultations as well as the development of consultation mechanisms at all stages of the decision-making process on progress towards the AU government. Civil society groups also call for a demonstration of more than lip service to the vision of a united Africa by the immediate lifting of all visas for Africans travelling within Africa. (10)
In addition, none of the study’s recommendations refer to deficiencies already noted by the African women’s movement with respect to ensuring the equal representation of African women at the AU’s highest decision-making organs. To its credit, in response, the AU has, in the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality of 2002, adopted the principle of gender parity in its institutions and specialised mechanisms, and implemented it to a greater extent than national Executives and legislatures. To ensure a continuation of this trend, specific recommendations should be made to address these deficiencies with respect to all institutions and specialised mechanisms to be transformed. The Commission’s Chair should also have a Deputy responsible for gender mainstreaming across her/his ‘Cabinet.’ If the Commissioners are to implement programmes and projects under the strategic focus areas then, as mentioned above, those should also be reviewed to ensure that gender implications are taken into account in their elaboration.
It is in respect of the financial institutions that the recommendations made are most profound. While the recommendations made are anticipated in and derived from the Abuja Treaty and the Constitutive Act, it is clear that they will be the most difficult to implement and, given the experience of even more established RECs, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC), and the East African Community (EAC), the most likely to require more than the time allocated in the study’s roadmap of nine years.
Based on ‘convergence criteria’ for the eventual union of capital and money markets across the region set out by the African Association of Central Banks (AACB) as well as guidelines proposed by the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the study proposes:
• first, progress from the West African Monetary and Economic Union, the Central African Economic and Monetary Union and the Common Monetary Area of Southern Africa as well as the economic and monetary unions proposed under COMESA and ECOWAS to common monetary policy and full integration of capital and monetary markets;
• second, establishment not only of the African Central Bank (ACB) but also of an African Monetary Fund (AMF) to regulate monetary policy and an African Investment Bank beyond the current African Development Bank (ADB) to ensure financing for programmes and projects of the AU government (for example, continental infrastructure projects);
• third, financing for the AU government to come not only from assessed contributions as is the case currently, but also from indirect taxes in the form of either import levies or airline ticket taxes on flights within and in/out of Africa (an earlier proposal on insurance taxes has been dropped).
The study notes that this move will have to be based on ‘convergence criteria’, overseen by regional monetary authorities and built up from the establishment of ‘optimum currency areas’ in the first instance and the achievement of total factor mobility in the second instance. It thus anticipates that the ACB will require seven to ten years with limited functions before being able to ensure the move to a common market and monetary union with a common currency (to be called the ‘Afric’).
Generally, economic integration occurs in four stages. First is the establishment of a free trade area, distinguished by with the removal of barriers to the trade of specified goods and services within the free trade area. Second is the establishment of a common market, enabling the mobility of all factors of production inside the common market. Third is the establishment of a customs union with common external customs and excise taxes. And fourth is the establishment of a monetary union with a common currency.
The experience of the more well-established RECs to date show that the first stage is (relatively) painless to implement—although countries with less competitive local producers and manufacturers may initially resist the entry of goods and services from countries with more competitive producers and manufacturers. The second, third and fourth stages are, however, much more difficult to achieve.
With respect to enabling full factor mobility—the free movement of all factors of production (capital as well as labour)—resistance to migration, both economic and forced, is increasing rather decreasing across the continent, partly in response to the large refugee outflows still all too common in Africa. Even where economic migration is permitted in limited circumstances, it has
been faced with xenophobic backlash (of the kind now witnessed in South Africa against professional as well as non-professional Africans).
As concerns common customs and excise tax in respect of externally-produced goods and services, most African states would be loath to make concessions on what remains an important revenue stream in the larger common interest (at least in the short-term, even if the long-term benefits may be clear). In addition, the collapse of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s so-called development round has sparked an increase in bilaterally-negotiated trade agreements. Although Africa is technically holding to a common position, resolving continental variations across all sectors covered by these bilateral trade agreements will be difficult in practice in the future.
With respect to the fourth state, it is true that the current aims of monetary policy across the continent are largely undifferentiated among states. However, the gap between aims and achievements is still highly differentiated—particularly given the internal conflict in some states (or regions within states). Unsurprisingly therefore, the proposed ‘convergence criteria’ imply that succession to the partnership will necessarily be on a staggered basis. This fact, together with the requirement regarding total factor mobility—the free movement of all factors of production (labour as well as capital) mean that even the slightly extended timeline here of up to ten years may be unrealistic. Unless a real impetus is given to questions of African citizenship, these recommendations seem likely to stall for some time to come.
Finally, while the aims of monetary policy at the national level are now largely uncontested among African states, they have been contested by the African women’s movement, particularly within African states where gender budgeting is taking place. The view that macroeconomic policy (fiscal and monetary policy) is gender neutral has been shown to be untrue. The analysis done in this respect should be taken into account in the ‘convergence criteria.’
The RECs are intended to be the building blocks for the AU government and the USA. The AU currently recognised eight RECs as follows:
• the Arab Magreb Union (AMU);
• the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD);
• the East African Community (EAC);
• the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS);
• the ECOWAS;
• the COMESA;
• the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); and
• the Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC).
As the study notes, all eight RECs have economic integration as their end goal, with only the EAC additionally aspiring to political integration under a federation. Although their progress towards that end goal can only be assessed as mixed, the study also notes that those making progress appear to be doing to on the basis of internal political stability, the end (or lack) of inter-state rivalry, capacity at the national level and, in the case of the EAC, a common language, Kiswahili.
The question that obviously arises (although it remains only implicit in the study) is whether these conditions are present on a continental scale (they do not) and, if not, how to bring them into being. The AU as currently constituted will necessarily have to do more to assist in the
resolution of internal conflicts in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, Darfur in the Sudan, and Zimbabwe. In addition, questions of capacity at the national level will have to be addressed in African states just emerging from internal conflict—Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, southern Sudan and so on.
In addition, the study notes that progress being made is internal-looking in each REC. Initiatives are not referenced to the AU and there is no roadmap with respect to the AU within any of the RECs. The inevitable result is that many of the RECs have duplicated the AU’s institutions and mechanisms and are tending to engage more with the NEPAD on common programmes and projects under the NEPAD plans of action (on agriculture, environment and ICTs, for example). Although this could be beneficial in the medium- to long-term, it can only be so if the missing roadmaps to the AU are developed as a matter of urgency—and if NEPAD is aligned to the AU as suggested above.
What is needed are intensified efforts at harmonisation and rationalisation of the RECs. The study proposes that this be done through the prompt adoption of proposed amendments to the 1998 Protocol on Relations between the African Economic Community (AEC) and the RECs to allow for liaison mechanisms between the AU and the RECs, joint resource mobilisation and, in particular, joint work with the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC). This would be supported by recommendations proposed at the national level—the institution of Ministers for Regional Integration where they do not exist, links with the PAP and links with the sub-regional and national members of the ECOSOCC.
It is important, however, to note that even with respect to the RECs where progress is being made, questions of popular participation remain contentious. The EAC, for example, recently deployed teams to each of the three east African members to assess public opinion on the EAC. While their final report is not yet out, media coverage of the team’s public hearings and sittings revealed that knowledge of the EAC integration process is low and demands for higher levels of public engagement and participation were repeatedly made. Given that there has been far greater media coverage of the EAC within the sub-region than of the AU, that should signal the vital importance of acting on the recommendations of African civil society noted above.
5. The road ahead
The study concludes with a tentative roadmap towards the AU government and the USA. (11) The roadmap is in three stages over nine years with the first stage focused on establishing the AU
government, the second stage on operationalising the AU government and the third and final stage on establishing the USA.
As already noted above, this time frame is clearly too short. On the one hand, the low level of public awareness about the study, its recommendations and the upcoming ‘Grand Debate’ are bound to militate against implementation of the recommendations—even if the idea of pan-Africanism is an idea that has long been aspired to. The recommendations will be seen as
imposed on African populations from the top-down, rather than arising from a consultative process which all Africans buy into and support. On the other hand, the financial proposals in particular cannot be achieved (as the study itself notes) within the nine years. Technical questions aside, they also hinge on critical pre-conditions for success such as, at best, African citizenship (including African women’s autonomous citizenship rights) or, at least, freedom of movement across the continent—the achievement of either which will be difficult to implement given the varied economic performance of individual African states as well as the persistence of internal conflicts across the region. This is a fact that has already been noted by some African leaders—as evidenced in the debate about the existence or otherwise of an ‘ideal’ time for union.
This is not to suggest that the study’s recommendations are unfeasible. African civil society, for instance, has in responses to the upcoming ‘Grand Debate’ noted that these pre-conditions, in
fact, lie at the heart of their expectations from a union. (12) At the top of the list of these expectations lie the following:
• having one voice for Africa as a whole;
• enhanced freedoms and rights for African peoples, including peace, security and stability and the right to freedom of movement across the continent;
• ‘equalising’ Africa and achieving economic emancipation, through increased capacity for local production, exports and foreign exchange earnings leading to poverty reduction;
• capitalising on what unites ‘us’ (the ‘us’ being undefined but assumed to be understood) through achieving coherence and enabling ‘best practice’ and information exchange across the continent.
The AU’s progress, in its current manifestation, could be taken as a measure of how realistic those expectations are.
With respect to having one voice, the AU’s emergence has certainly aided Africa’s participation in global governance foray such as the United Nations through strengthening the Africa Group’s positions. It has also, while unfortunately embroiled in unnecessary grandstanding asserting its mandate to fulfil roles hitherto carried out by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), built on the common position building instituted by the ECA as regards the WTO.
With respect to human rights, it is true that the African Commission has played a more useful role in recent years than at its inception. Taking its response to the latest situation of grave or widespread human rights in Darfur, the Sudan as an example, it is clear that its report into human rights violations in Darfur, the Sudan was instrumental in shifting the AU’s initial position on the matter, eventually enabling the entry of the African Mission to the Sudan (AMIS). But, arguably, prevarication on the matter should not have arisen at all. And AMIS’ initial lack of an appropriate protection mandate and its persistent lack of resources have meant its efficacy remains in question. It is also true that the relatively speedy adoption and ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa signalled a new determination by the AU
member states to move on questions of gender equality. But the lack of implementation on the ground—through domestication of the Protocol where required—signals continued propensity by the AU’s member states to do the right thing at the regional level but continue with business as usual at the national level. The same conclusion could arguably be drawn with respect to recommendations made to the AU member states that have completed their governance assessments under the APRM.
Finally, with respect to ‘equalising’ Africa and achieving economic emancipation, it is true that the Africa/G8 engagement under the NEPAD did contribute to the debt cancellation deals for 13 of Africa’s poorest countries in 2005/6. It contributed to new commitments to higher levels of ODA for Africa, even if these have yet to fully materialise. And it contributed to increased planning for programmes and projects of continental importance, even if financing for these programmes and projects has yet to be found.
These examples are only illustrative and not quantifiable with respect to the AU’s achievements towards African civil society’s expectations. They paint a picture of somewhat inconsistent and patchy progress that is more incipient than felt on the ground. But they also point to a significant shift towards meaningful collective action that bodes well for further intensification of the regional integration agenda.
But African civil society has also stressed that meeting these expectations will not be easy. Apart from the current lack of public awareness and support already noted above, while decrying so-
called ‘afro-pessimism’, it is itself if not cynical at least sceptical about the African leaders at whose behest this study was done. In assessing the progress of the AU with respect to resolving the remaining internal conflicts in the region, it has noted the lack of consistent and progressive political will to address still too rigid understandings of state sovereignty.
To conclude, for the study’s recommendations to be achieved and the clarion call ‘Africa Unite’ to be realised, political will need to be built up at the highest and lowest levels. This will require focused, targeted communications and consultative work at the national level. And enhanced delivery by the AU as currently constituted. While working towards an aspirational framework within a more reasonable timeframe, the focus should now be on resolving the gap between the AU’s new normative framework and institutional and programmatic/project delivery already experienced.
Annexe 1: recommendations on the study and beyond
Framework for an AU government
Shared values and common interest
• Explicitly include gender equality and women’s human rights as shared values;
• Elaborate on the reference to ‘indigenous’ knowledge and the need for synchronicity with ‘modern’ knowledge systems;
Strategic focus areas
• For the longer-term, express the strategic focus areas in a more aspirational sense—by aspirations here are meant the shared values and common interests to be achieved through a union—such as the promotion and substantive protection of norms already agreed to by African states under relevant regional and international law and policy, whether ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ in nature, explicitly including norms with respect to gender equality;
• In the shorter-term, review the process of establishing ‘community domain’ so as to focus, at least initially, on collective programmes and projects already being implemented that require collective oversight of a kind not already exercised for common programmes and projects under the NEPAD or possible through emergent and yet-to-be evolved AU institutions;
• Highlight the gendered implications of all strategic focus areas in both aspirational as well as programmatic and/or project senses;
• Elaborate on the strategic focus area dealing with external relations, focusing on how it would relate to diplomacy and foreign affairs at the national level;
• More clearly state the aspirations for the two strategic focus areas dealing with on industry and mining and infrastructure, ICT and biotechnologies;
• Further develop the two strategic focus areas focused on gender and youth and social affairs and solidarity, specifying what it intended under them as a matter of ‘community domain’;
• Include institutional-strengthening measures for the strategic focus areas involving emergent or yet-to be evolved AU institutions such as those on governance and human rights, peace and security and money and finance;
Institutional and programmatic implications
• Pay more attention to ensuring separation of powers and checks and balances between what will ultimately be the executive, legislative and judicial arms of the union;
• Address the need for capacity and resources, both financial and human;
• Review all recommendations in light of deficiencies already noted by the African women’s movement with respect to ensuring the equal representation of African women at the AU’s highest decision-making organs—for instance, the Commission’s Chair could also have a Deputy responsible for gender mainstreaming across her/his ‘Cabinet’ and all Commissioners responsible for programmes and projects under the strategic focus areas should ensure that gender implications are taken into account in their elaboration and implementation;
• Review all recommendations in light of their potential to promote popular participation (including by women);
• Put in place mechanisms to enable wider popular engagement with the study through debates in national parliaments and national consultations as well as the development of
• consultation mechanisms at all stages of the decision-making process on progress towards the AU government;
• Conduct analysis into the gendered implications of macroeconomic policy with respect to the ‘convergence criteria’;
• Enable total factor mobility—the free movement of all factors of production (labour as well as capital)—by addressing questions of African citizenship, including African women’s equal citizenship rights and freedom of movement at the continental level;
• Demonstrate political will by immediately lifting all visa requirements for Africans travelling within Africa;
• Assess the conditions for successful sub-regional integration—internal political stability, the end (or lack) of inter-state rivalry, capacity at the national level and a common language—on a continental scale and put in place measures to achieve them where they are lacking;
• Intensify efforts at harmonisation and rationalisation of the RECs, referencing such intensification explicitly to the AU through adoption of amendments to the 1998 Protocol on Relations between the African Economic Community (AEC) and the RECs;
• Address repeated calls for progress popular participation in the integration processes at the sub-regional level;
• Facilitate better media coverage of the same;
The road ahead
• Demonstrate greater commitment to the normative framework already established by the AU—particularly with respect to the promotion and protection of human rights (including women’s human rights), peace and security;
• Demonstrate, in particularly, consistent and progressive political will to address still too rigid understandings of state sovereignty in respect of matters of human rights, peace and security;
• Adopt a longer time frame to build up political will at all levels, particularly in respect of the financial recommendations;
• Enhance delivery by the AU and the NEPAD on programmes and projects already underway.
* This paper was commissioned by the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) a project of the Open Society Institute (OSI)
The African diaspora and the United States of Africa
It is essential to address the African diaspora’s involvement in the process of continental government. As we descend into the next phase of the African Union’s summits in Ghana, critical analysis of the African diaspora’s meaningful contribution must be integrated from here on, writes Selome Araya.
‘An African, therefore…is one who by accident of history and the reality of geography is wedded to the African continent. A leading advocate of this concept was Kwame Nkrumah’ – Professor Godfrey N. Uzoigwe
The current sea of summits and articles about the proposed ‘United States of Africa’ has raised numerous discussions in regards to its challenges and necessity. While these discussions are imperative, it is also essential to continue to address another key element: the African diaspora’s involvement in the process. As we descend into the next phase of the African Union’s (AU) summits in Ghana, critical analysis of the African diaspora’s meaningful contribution must be integrated from here on.
The African diaspora are people of African descent who live outside continental Africa, having been dispersed around the world through colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade or voluntary migration. The AU has defined the African diaspora as '[consisting] of people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union‘.
Though the AU proclaims the importance of the African diaspora’s contribution, the minimal presence of the diaspora in the United States of Africa decision making bodies sparks the question: Is the United States of Africa being proposed only for those living in the African states, or does it extend to those in the diaspora as well? Does this unification really include the contribution of all African people who are willing to participate?
The answer to these questions could potentially be the catalyst to revive the once active plea for Pan-Africanism. More than unifying the 54 states of the African continent, it could serve as the mechanism to facilitate unity and solidarity amongst a people who are dispersed throughout the world, yet still connected by their history, ancestry, and bloodlines.
Though it has been adopted and embraced by African state leaders, the notion of a United Africa has always resonated with Africans in the diaspora. The concept of a ‘United States of Africa’ in fact was originated by Jamaican-born leader and activist Marcus Garvey. He first used the phrase in 1924 to call for the unity of Africans collectively fighting for human rights, resisting racism and exploitation in all parts of the world. Garvey’s teachings helped to shape the Pan-African movement, a movement formed in part with the intent to bridge the diaspora with its homeland. The Pan-African movement was also influenced by a United States-born African, W.E.B. Du Bois.
Professor and author Godfrey N Uziokwe defines Pan-Africanism as ‘a political movement initiated by peoples of African descent in the Americas, and later taken over by continental Africans, which aims to liberate all Africans and people of African descent from the shackles of political, economic, cultural, and intellectual domination’ . Ghanaian president and activist, Kwame Nkrumah, and other leaders from the continent later adopted the Pan-African movement, expanding it to include the decolonisation of the African continent politically. At the first Pan-African Congress to occur in Africa in 1958, Dr Nkrumah acknowledged the extraordinary contribution of people of African origin in the diaspora to Pan-Africanism:
‘... Many of them have made no small contribution to the cause of African freedom. Names which spring immediately to mind in this connection are those of Marcus Garvey, and WEB DuBois. Long before many of us were even conscious of our own degradation, these men fought for African national and racial equality.’
The Pan-African movement solidified the need for global solidarity of people of African descent to defend their human rights. Inspired by the Diasporic Pan African Movement, Nkrumah, Haile Selassie, and others, formed the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. However, though the initial Pan-African movement included Africans in the diaspora, the OAU began to focus more on continental concerns and did not develop a specific role for people of the African diaspora. ‘While the OAU helped speed the independence of African nations, it did not reach out to the African diaspora in a meaningful way.’ This was first seen during the early stages of the OAU, where members of the diaspora were largely absent from the Pan-African meetings.
The OAU transitioned into the AU in 2001, and during this time, ’it began the long-awaited outreach to the African diaspora’ . The AU verbally recognised the diaspora as the ‘6th region of Africa’, adding it to the other five geographical regions on the continent. Article 3 (q) of the AU’s Constitutive Act Amendments states that it shall ‘invite and encourage the full participation of the African diaspora as an important part of our Continent, in the building of the African Union’.
One of these attempts included the creation of the diaspora Initiative within the framework of the OAU, created in 2003 to connect people of spiritual and ancestral kinship to one another through various mechanisms. In 2006, the AU’s 6th Region Education Campaign also partnered with the Western Hemisphere Education Campaign (WHADN) in an initiative to serve as the ‘interface mechanism’ that linked the diaspora with the AU.
However, while the diaspora has been invited to conferences and summits, sometimes to merely ‘observe’, their role in making decisions within the AU appears to still be minimal. The full participation of the diaspora in the development of the United States of Africa has yet to be conceptualised and there is currently no policy to facilitate the involvement of the diaspora in the process. In addition, although the AU’s Constitutive Act states that it will include the diaspora in its processes, there have been no written policy changes. ‘Examination of the Amendment, Article ‘q’ to the Constitutive Act of the African Union reveals, however, that no such ‘significant structural change’ has occurred, stated Professor Maurice Tadadjeu in a recent address to Repatriation News. This is illustrated through the diaspora’s inability to join or take part in an important governmental body in Africa, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).
The diaspora currently does not take part in any deliberations. The PAP states that it represents all people’s of Africa, yet its objectives focus solely on Africans living on the continent and make no mention of the African diaspora’s inclusion in or benefit from these objectives. Full participation of the diaspora within the AU would mean the diaspora having seats within the PAP. An example of how this could be facilitated is by developing a joint body between the AU and a governmental body in the diaspora. A policy report entitled ‘Building an African Union’ suggests that ‘Existing institutions and organizations in the diaspora should be integrated with the AU. A pan- African parliamentary union between the PAP and the US Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) would be one such Innovation’.
An attempt at including the voice of all African peoples (the diaspora) in the AU’s decision making process was with the creation of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union (ECOSOCC) in 2002. The ECOSOCC is to serve as a consultative body and is working to bring together civil society groups, including some from the diaspora, to work with the AU. In regards to the United States of Africa, this body is intended to serve as a consultancy at assembly deliberations.
Diasporic ‘representation’ and decision making within the ECOSOCC, however, doesn’t equate to the diaspora having decision making power within the AU or its United States of Africa government. However, the ECOSOCC claims that this consultative body will play an active role in partnership with African governments to ‘contribute to the principles, policies and programs of the Union’. Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, General-Secretary of the Pan-African Movement in Kampala Uganda and Co-Director of Justice Africa, however, believes that the diaspora’s role is not quite as active as it appears. He states, ‘Even at the launch of the General Assembly (of the ECOSOCC) the few diaspora persons there were mere observers’.
Mutually beneficial relationship and solidarity
The call for the African diaspora’s full participation in the formation of a United Africa may cause some to wonder, why is the diaspora’s full participation important and who would benefit from such a relationship?
The theme of a proposed global summit in South Africa focusing on the unity of Africa and the diaspora provides an overall response to this inquiry. Entitled ‘Towards the Realization of a United and Integrated Africa and its diaspora’, this summit will aim at producing ‘a shared vision of sustainable development for both the African continent and the millions of people around the world who share an African heritage’. The participants of this summit are calling for a global dialogue regarding regional development and integration, economic co-operation, and historical, socio-cultural and religious commonalities.
There are over 150,000,000 people in the diaspora who not only could play a role in strengthening Africa’s development and attempt at unification, but who could also greatly benefit from a united Africa. In essence, a mutually beneficial relationship would result from the diaspora taking part in the development of a United States of Africa. Revived Pan-African solidarity between Africa and the diaspora would create partnerships needed to address issues of global concern and provide mutual support as both groups are still weaning off the impact that western imperialism had (and still has) on both.
If the diaspora and the African’s living on the continent joined forces with consistent cross-continental relations, support, and inclusion, it could strengthen the entire African presence and power in the world. Empowering Africans both at home and abroad is essential in order to address the inequities and imbalances that continue to bond us by our collective experience of oppression. Through building mutual solidarity, networking, and mobilization, both continental and diasporic Africans would gain strength.
According to the diaspora Initiative within the framework of the AU, the diaspora can be of great benefit to the AU through:
• technical support for programs of the African Union
• public education and sensitization of the wider public in their respective regions
• provision of a domestic political constituency for AU goals and objectives
• fundraising and resource mobilization
• resource support through such measures as creation of Endowments amongst others.
As this initiative reflects, the benefit that Africans in the diaspora could bring to the United States of Africa is multi-layered. Collectively the diaspora possesses an economic power that could greatly assist African economic development initiatives and assist in the continents struggle to break from the shackles of structural adjustment programmes, globalisation, and ‘debts’. The power that the diaspora holds could also knock out the devastating choke-hold that international NGO’s have over continental crises. Due to proportionately more access to resources, there is a wealth of financial, technical and intellectual expertise in the diaspora.
The amount of resources and education that African’s in the diaspora have access to could surely help to strengthen the continental quest at unity, provide support for other concerns affecting Africans on the continent, as well as developing Africa’s human resource capacity. ‘The African diaspora can play a part in enhancing Africa’s role in the world by promoting the development of the continent. A genuine engagement by the AU with the diaspora could enhance Africa’s negotiating and resource mobilization capacity with the international community.’ 
However, on the reciprocal end, the AU could also greatly assist in the struggle of African people’s globally. At the Pan-African Congress in 1958, Nkrumah recognised Africa’s unity as being crucial for the human rights of Africans in the diaspora to be respected.
‘Long may the links between Africa and the peoples of African descent continue to hold us together in fraternity. Now that we in Africa are marching towards the complete emancipation of this Continent, our independent status will help in no small measure their efforts to attain full human rights and human dignity as citizens of their country.’ 
According to the diaspora Initiative, the AU can offer the diaspora:
• a measure of credible involvement in the policy making processes
• some corresponding level of representation
• symbolic identifications
• requirements of dual or honorary citizenship of some sort
• moral and political support of diaspora initiatives in their respective regions
• preferential treatment in access to African economic undertakings including consultancies, trade preferences and benefits for entrepreneurs, vis a vis non –Africans
• social and political recognition as evident in invitation to Summits and important meetings etc. 
The United African governmental body could also show solidarity and provide support for the many injustices being inflicted on people of African descent throughout the diaspora. This includes places like Brazil, the United States of America, Haiti, France and elsewhere, where people of African descent are suffering from human rights violations exponentially by imperialist governments.
Speaking from the experience of an African living in the United States of America, we have repeatedly found ourselves victims of human rights violations and racist oppression by this government since we arrived here. We are not supported, respected, or represented by this government and have been mistreated by the government itself. Examples of this include the continuous unjust murders of African peoples by the state police departments as well as the gross injustices against African people that preceded and followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Although there have been governments and leaders in Africa who have fully acknowledged the injustices that are occurring in America and elsewhere, being a part of an African government would strengthen the diaspora’s continual struggle for justice. If Africans in America were a part of the United States of Africa government, they could possibly have a mechanism of support to hold the United States government accountable for the violations they inflict on people of African descent. Africans throughout the diaspora could have a connection to a universal African government that advocates for drastic changes to be made in regards to the global mistreatment of people of African descent. In other words, Africans in the diaspora would have a government that they feel a part of, instead of one they are in constant combat with.
Just One Struggle
Proclamations about the African diaspora’s right to play a crucial role in the development of a United States of Africa also call for an all-inclusive definition of what it means to be African.
Whether you identify as African, Black, being of African origin or descent, African-American, Caribbean, Afro-Latino, New Afrikan, or an African living abroad, one common trait holds true: we are all bound by our origination from and lasting connection to the same land. The African world is bigger than the territory and borders of the continent. It spans the entire globe, and includes our presence on all seven continents. The linguistic, geographic, and cultural differences amongst us cannot negate the reality that we are brothers and sisters. Separated by force, we have clearly been fragmented in a myriad of ways. But beyond the borders and boundaries, throwing away visas and passports, sidestepping our lack of common languages, combating the cowardly European divide and conquer techniques, and underneath any perceived differences, we are yet roots from the same tree.
This attempted disjointing and cultural destabilisation should not be the excuse for not supporting one another’s struggles for emancipation and freedom. In this case, realised Pan-African unity could be our channel to justice on the continent and abroad.
This common ancestry has made our universal struggles and resistance against oppression one in the same. Human rights activist and Pan-Africanist El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) stated in his address at the OAU summit in Cairo, Egypt in 1964, ‘We in America (and elsewhere) are your long-lost brothers and sisters, and I am here only to remind you that our problems are your problems’ . He also added, ‘Since the 22 million of us were originally Africans, who are now in America, not by choice but only by a cruel accident in our history, we strongly believe that African problems are our problems and our problems are African problems’10. More than being bonded by our common African descent, Pan-Africanism was born out of this collective bond to resist these ‘powers’ in solidarity, hoping to strengthen our calls for justice and accountability. Shackled by European states and scrambling for civil rights, the only true difference in our struggle is geographic location.
We (African’s globally) are all continuing to endure various forms of oppression and atrocities inflicted on us directly, indirectly, institutionally, economically, and even under the guise of ‘humanitarian assistance’ and development projects. Whether we live in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, or Africa, African peoples have been subjected to imperialist policies that have undermined our worth, dehumanized our souls and attempted to keep us enslaved under capitalism.
The diaspora Initiative also recognises this common African struggle:
‘Indeed, the activities and challenges of both continental Africans and Africans in diaspora continued to impact upon each other, with history as a common reference point. Those transported across the Atlantic began as second-class citizens in their new abode just as the establishment of the colonial order of the African continent relegated their brothers to the same status on the continent. Hence, the quest for freedom and social emancipation became a shared concern. Africans on both sides of the Atlantic divide felt the impact of vestigial discrimination in the aftermath of the abolition of the Slave Trade and the onset of the twentieth century.’
And so, if Africans in the diaspora are truly embraced as being African and if the African struggles globally are acknowledged as being one in the same, their inclusion in the development of a United States of Africa should be automatic, clearly defined, and truly participatory, and move beyond observer status. While there have been attempts over the last six years to include the diaspora in discussions pertaining to the African Union, a stronger presence in the United States of Africa must be actualised and written policy on the reciprocal relationship must be created.
*Selome Araya holds an MPH in Forced Migration and Health from Columbia University. She works with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in New York and is a freelance writer.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
1. Uzoigwe, G.N. “Pan-Africanism in World Politics”. Mississippi State University
2. Murithi, T and Ndigna-Muvumba, A. “Building an African Union for the 21st Century”- Policy Seminar Report. The Center for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, South Africa, 2005
3. Nkrumah, K. Portion of a speech given at the First All-African People's Conference. Accra, Ghana 1958
4. General Report. “1st African Union Western Hemisphere Diaspora Forum”. Washington, D.C. USA, December 17 -19, 2002, http://www.africa-union.org/Special_Programs/CSSDCA/cssdca-firstau-forum.pdf
5. “Protocol on Amendments to the Constitutive Act of the African Union”, http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/Text/Protocol%20on%20Amendments%20to%20the%20Constitutive%20Act.pdf 2003
6. Tadadjeu, M. Report to the African Diaspora RE: AU 6th Region & ECOSOCC Elections. Repatriation News, http://www.rastaites.com/repatriationnews/28repatriation.htm
7. Tajudeen, A R. “Potential conflict of interest in Nobel Laureate's appointment to AU”. Pambazuka News, http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/panafrican/27619-tajudeen, April 2005
8. Dlamini-Zuma, N. “SA Moves To ‘Rekindle Flames Of African Solidarity”. Pambazuka News, AU Monitor.
http://www.pambazuka.org/aumonitor/index.php/AUMONITOR/comments/sa_moves_to_rekindle_flames_of_african_solidarity_says_dlamini_zuma/, May 2007
9. AU Executive Council. “The Development of the Diaspora Initiative within the Framework of the OAU/AU”. South Africa, May 2003
10. X, Malcolm. Portion of a speech at OAU summit in Cairo, Egypt 1964. http://www.oopau.org/2.html OAU speech 1964
No! to the united graves of Africa
Unity of the living and healthy – not a unity of the diseased, dying and dead
From the 1-3 July 2007, African leaders will meet in Accra, Ghana at the 9th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union. The major agenda item is the proposal and plans for the United States of Africa. Africa’s underdevelopment as manifested in its public health catastrophe is not on the AU summit agenda. This raises the crucial question of the kind of unity African leaders wish to achieve. Significantly the debate about the proposed union has revolved mainly around political issues without commensurate attention to the development issues which were no less important to the founders of the Pan African movement.
It is now six years since Heads of State of African Union member states pledged in Abuja in 2001 to commit at least 15 per cent of national budgets to health. To say it is tragic that in 2007 only two out of fifty three AU member countries (Botswana and Seychelles) have clearly met that pledge does not even begin to describe the situation. It is beyond tragedy.
In these past few weeks, all roads led to the G8 Summit in Germany. In what has become an annual ritual since the turn of the century, international campaigners Bono, Bob Geldof and an impressive assortment of Development and AIDS related organisations led the calls for more aid to Africa, and for Africa not to be forgotten in the clamour over climate change. As usual, selected African leaders turned up with begging bowls and for photo calls. Leading international campaigners have since described the aid pledged by the G8 this month as 'a farce' and 'grossly inadequate'.
We know that many of the more developed countries have played historical roles in under developing Africa. 400 years of industrial scale slavery, in addition to colonialism, ruthless exploitation of Africa’s resources, cynical ‘interventions’ and the debt burden have cost Africa dearly. The ‘foreign’ aid to Africa is a percentage of what has been taken out in human and natural resources, and is but a small step towards repairing the damage done to Africa.
But we also know that African leaders cannot seriously expect other countries to commit to, or meet pledges to ‘save’ Africa when they themselves appear indifferent to Africa’s future. To be going forward with plans for African unity without simultaneously meeting the most fundamental commitment to African development – that of health - is misguided to say the least.
It is comical for us to be calling on the G8 countries to meet the recent Gleneagles pledges when the vast majority of AU member states have not met their own Abuja 2001 pledge. This is not a pledge we can afford to pass unfulfilled. The Africa Public Health Rights Alliance (APHRA) and its '15% Now!' Campaign revealed on Human Rights Day (December 10) 2006 that by crossing continental, sub regional, country, health, disease specific and development information from a wide range of agencies and institutions we computed that an estimated 8,000,000 Africans are dying annually from preventable, treatable and manageable diseases and health conditions – mainly Malaria, TB, HIV, child and maternal mortality. This figure does not include organ related disease (heart, liver, kidney and lung diseases), an assortment of cancers, vaccine preventable diseases and so forth which could very easily add another million – or more. The consistency of these figures over the past six years alone means that Africa has suffered an estimated 48,000,000 preventable deaths since 2001.
By coincidence, the dream of the United States of Africa is planned to be actualised by 2015, the same year the Millennium Development Goals are to be met. If Africa’s health catastrophe continues unabated we could loose another 72,000,000 lives by then. This is the equivalent of whole nations dying out within a year or a decade. Many African countries (such as Botswana, Burundi, Eritrea, Gambia, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Namibia and Swaziland) have populations of between 1-8,00,000. Most of the island countries have populations of less than a million. Even Africa’s most populous countries (DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan - with the exception of Nigeria at 130,000,000) all have populations of between 30-80,000,000.
It would therefore not be an exaggeration to describe over 120 million preventable deaths between 2001 and 2015 as genocide – by inaction. In this case and for every life lost, government indifference to Public Health is the equivalent of an Interehamwe machete or Nazi gas chamber. If we were set up memorials to the preventable deaths from one year alone, we would need 100 stadiums in Africa with the capacity to each host 80,000 skulls – each a stadium of shameful silence, and a monument to government without responsibility.
Africa Must Unite! But for it to be a meaningful unity it must not be a unity of the dead. It must not be unity as a continental graveyard.
Meeting the 15 per cent pledge will be a significant indication that African leaders care for their countries and are prepared to live up to their primary responsibility of keeping their citizens alive and healthy. No meaningful and sustainable development of Africa can happen without sustainable financing for health care. Indeed the status of public health is the most significant indicator of social and economic development. This is why the Right to Health is the most crucial Right of all – we all have to be alive and well to exercise any other Rights. The dead have no Rights – except perhaps the ‘Right to a decent burial’.
To postpone the meeting of the 15 per cent pledge to the future is to accelerate the death of Africa. We call on the African Union to place the 2001 15 per cent pledge on the July 2007 summit agenda and at the very least to introduce it as urgent business [under item vii, AOB]. We further call on them to make it a major agenda item of the next summit or to call a special summit dedicated to meeting the 15% pledge. This should be preceded by a special summit of Finance and Economic Development Ministers
To further illustrate the full scale of Africa’s health disaster, it is not enough to demonstrate only the unprecedented scale of preventable death. It is also crucial to demonstrate the scale of Africa’s impotence and one example will suffice.
Without health workers, no amount of free medicines can be delivered to citizens, and all ‘foreign’ AID is meaningless. Yet many African governments have no clue how close to death their countries are due to shortage of health workers of all categories.
The DRC with a population of 57 million, roughly equivalent to the populations of UK, France and Italy has only 5,827 doctors compared to the France’s 203,000, Italy’s 241,000 and the UK’s 160,000. But it is not just a case of the most developed countries being able to train more health workers, or to poach from Africa to make up their shortfalls. Cuba with a population of about 11 million has roughly the same population as Malawi, Zambia or Zimbabwe. But Cuba has 66,567 Doctors compared with Malawi’s 266, Zambia’s 1,264 and Zimbabwe’s 2,086. Not surprisingly, Cuba has roughly the same life expectancy (77 years) as the G8 Countries, the Scandinavian and other developed countries while the average life expectancy for African countries compared to it here is 37 to 40 years. The success of Cuba in the areas of health care and education demonstrates it can be done. Despite issues with the Castro government, western countries have visited Cuba to study how they have achieved their health success. To come anywhere near meeting the World Health Organisation recommended health worker’s to patient ratio or meeting the health based MDG’s these African countries compared to Cuba will need to train and retain roughly 59,000 Doctors each in 8 years. The DRC will need to train and retain at least 150,000. The numbers for nurses, pharmacists and most categories of health workers are comparable across board. This should be Africa’s priority.
In other words, there is no alternative to long term in country sustainable financing to rebuild Africa’s Public Health systems including health workers and improved working conditions and remuneration for them, adequately equipped clinics and hospitals, improved sanitation and environmental health, clean drinking water and so forth. Without these Africa may achieve its dream of continental unity, but it will be a fools paradise.
We are for a United Africa. But it must be a unity of the living, and of a healthy African people – able to enjoy full civil, social, economic and political Rights - not a unity of the diseased, dead and dying. Successfully unity can only be based on successful development of which health is the corner stone.
The Africa Public Health Rights Alliance and its 15 per cent Now campaign calls on you to join the undersigned below in signing the petition calling on AU member countries to fulfil their 15 per cent Abuja pledge as the first genuine step towards a healthy United States of Africa.
* Rotimi Sankore is Coordinator, Africa Public Health Rights Alliance and its “15% Now!” Campaign.
You can read the full petition and see current signatories at the link shown below. You can sign by sending your name, position, organisation and country to email@example.com - Also stating if signing in a personal or organisational capacity.
*Signatories to the petition do not necessarily endorse the views expressed in this article.
Current signatories of the petition include:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Honorary Chair of the Africa Public Health Rights Alliance 15% Now! Campaign, South Africa
Professor Dennis Brutus, Centre for Civil Society, University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Professor Wangari Maathai Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Green Belt Movement, Kenya
And many others.
You may click here to see the petition text and full list of current signatories
Rolling petition to be submitted to the African Union Calling on member states to urgently fulfil their 2001 pledge to commit 15% of budgets to health. Next Summit July 1 – 3 2007.
To Heads of States and Governments
Of the African Union
African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243
Appeal to African Union member States to without further delay implement the 2001 Abuja Summit pledge to allocate 15% of national budgets to healthcare
We write to appeal to you to act without further delay on arguably the most crucial challenge African leaders will have to confront in modern times, that of taking immediate and concrete action to end the tragic loss of an estimated 8 million African lives annually to preventable, treatable or manageable diseases, illnesses and health conditions.
Africans and friends of Africa were reassured when African governments themselves recognised the scale of Africa’s health crisis at the 2001 Abuja African Union Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases (ORID), and committed to allocate at least 15% of national budgets to health care. However 5 years on, the great majority of the AU’s 53 member governments including those most hit by Africa’s worsening Public Health crisis have not even began the process of meeting this pledge.
Having convened numerous meetings on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria especially since the 2001 Abuja summit your Excellencies know that numerous lives have been lost and continue to be lost annually. Latest UNAIDS, World Health Organisation and other statistics for 2006 indicate that an estimated 24.7 million Africans are living with HIV, new infections are at a high of 2.8 million and annual death figures are 2.1 million. AIDS orphans are estimated at 12 million. For Tuberculosis, African deaths are running at 586,911 annually (35% of the world total), African’s living with TB are estimated to be 3,740,695 (26%). New and aggressive drug resistant strains could easily lead to a doubling of TB figures within a short period. For Malaria, annual African deaths are estimated at 1,136,000 (89.3% of the world total). As the relevant global and African agencies and institutions compile these retrospectively, the situation could well be much worse today.
Statistics from UNFPA, UNIFEM, WHO and other institutions indicate maternal mortality ratio estimates are highest in Africa at (830) per 100,000, followed by Asia (330), Oceania (240), Latin America and the Caribbean (190), and the more developed countries (20). Consequently an estimated 300,000 African women - over half the global total - die annually as a result of inadequate facilities and staffing for childbirth. Experts estimate that the spill over effect for this decade alone is an estimated death of 5 million women, and children from birth related complications if the trend continues. In addition there will be 49 million maternal disabilities.
Numerous UN and African institutions endorse the position that “since almost all maternal mortality is avoidable, the death of a woman during pregnancy or childbirth is a violation of her rights to life and health as well as being a social injustice”. Sadly, increasing numbers of maternal deaths are caused by indirect, non-obstetric conditions including infectious disease (HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and hepatitis), chronic diseases (of the heart, lung and liver), gender-based violence and multiple problems faced by pregnant women in emergency situations. These maternal mortality levels constitute a colossal negligence of the obligation of African governments to provide adequate reproductive health.
Most worryingly for the future of Africa, an estimated 4.8 million deaths of children under the age of 5 years occur annually. Just five diseases - pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and AIDS - account for half of these deaths. Again global and African institutions are in agreement that alongside providing proper nutrition “most of these lives could be saved by expanding low-cost prevention and treatment measures...including exclusive breastfeeding of infants, antibiotics for acute respiratory infections, oral rehydration for diarrhoea, immunization, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and appropriate drugs for malaria.”
Significantly, Africa tops virtually every other global mortality league table: from malnutrition; to water borne diseases like typhoid and cholera; to cervical, breast, prostrate and other cancers; heart, liver, kidney and lung disease etc. This is not counting river blindness, polio and others, which disable individuals and communities. These losses are untenable and unsustainable.
The implications for social and economic development are horrendous. Without a healthy and active population especially in the key age groups and social groups most affected, Africa has no future. Already UN and other experts estimate that the number of lives that will be lost to major diseases in the next 20 years alone is well over the 100 million mark. This is over double the estimated figures for all other worst hit parts of the world combined.
In such circumstances, your Excellencies and your immediate successors may well end up presiding over the extinction of your own people. We doubt that there will be little point in having governments if there is no one to govern.
We do not make this point lightly. The number of African lives lost annually to preventable, treatable and manageable health issues alone is equal to loosing annually, the entire populations of either Eritrea (4.4m people), Libya (5.8m people), Sierra Leone (5.5m people), or Togo (6.1 people). Or, any combination of 3 or 4 of the following countries: Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Gambia, Gabon, Mauritius, Mauritania and Namibia all with populations of 1.5 to 2 million annually. Consequently Africa’s fastest growing industry is the coffins and burial business. In 20 years the number of lives lost could be equivalent to the population of Nigeria - (at 130 million) - Africa’s most populous country.
We therefore urge your Excellencies to without delay ensure that the process for each country meeting the 15% Abuja pledge is started immediately and met by the next budget year.
We also urge you to ensure that a significant percentage of the 15% is dedicated to resolving Africa’s health worker shortages, which is indisputably the most crucial component of every health sector. Without them to diagnose, prescribe or otherwise prevent, treat and care, no amount of medicines will resolve Africa’s Public Health crisis. The World Health Organisation report for 2006 states that although there is a universal health worker shortage, it underlines that Africa is the only continent where the total number of health worker shortages (817,992) exceeds the existing number of health care workers (590,198). Lack of financial resources for the health sector and policies of some developed countries means that ‘Brain Drain’ has exacerbated this problem. Consequently, Africa has more health workers working outside Africa than any other continent.
A failure to reverse these health worker shortages within the next 4 to 6 years means that all of Africa’s 2010 Universal Access targets for prevention, treatment and care for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria will definitely not be met. Even worse the three 2015 health related Millenium Development Goals - based on scaling up reproductive health, children’s health, and tackling the HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other diseases may be an impossibility. Without doubt, the future of Africa hinges on whether or not its public health crisis, (its overall human resource crisis) and in particular its health worker shortage is resolved.
Excellencies, while we recognise that historical injustices and crimes against humanity such as: the slave trade and colonialism (in which Africa lost over a 100 million people over a longer 400 year period); and more recently the debt burden; and conditionalities imposed by the IMF and other IFI’s capping budget expenditures, resulting in ceilings on health and crucial sectors of the economy have blighted development of African countries - fulfilling your 15% pledge without further delay will go a long way towards demonstrating African governments political will, restoring African dignity and ensuring that Africa’s healthcare needs are met on a sustainable basis, (and not dependent on donor support) in order to uphold what is undoubtedly the most crucial Human Right of all, the Right to Health, and ultimately to Life itself.
We appeal to you to act urgently
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Honorary Chair of the Africa Public Health Rights Alliance 15% Now! Campaign, South Africa
Professor Dennis Brutus, Centre for Civil Society, University of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Professor Wangari Maathai Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Green Belt Movement, Kenya
Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/AIDS (AGHA), Nelson Musoba, Uganda
Actionaid, Ludfine Anyango, Kenya
Actionaid International, Ojobo Atuluku , Nigeria
Africa Health Research Organization, Dr. Abubakar Yaro , Ghana
Africa Internally Displaced Persons Voice (Africa IDP Voice), Mr. Joseph Chilengi / Brenda Mukutu, Zambia
African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), Gambia
African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), Ghana
African Network of Adolescents and Youth in Population and Development (AfriYAN), Edford G. Mutuma, Zambia
African Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (ANERELA+), Henrix Zama, South Africa
Alliance Rights, Nigeria Oludare Odumuye (Programme Director), Nigeria
Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL), Cllr. Abla Gadegbeku Williams (1st Vice President), Liberia
AWC, Alex Dianga
Budongo Forests Community Development Organization (BUCODO), Madira Davidson (Executive Director), Uganda
Bundesverend Freus Radios Sovegel, Germany
CEDPA USAID/ Health Policy Initiative, Laurette Cucuzza (Snr. Advocacy Advisor), USA
CERDH (Centre for Human Rights, Democracy and Transitional Justice Studies), Mr Joseph Yav Katshung, DRC
Centre for Research, Education and Development of Rights in Africa (CREDO-Africa), Dapo Awosokanre, Nigeria / Africa Diaspora-UK
Centre for Social Justice and Peace-Africa, Dr. Eusebio Wanyama, PhD (DIRECTOR), Kenya
Civil Resource Development & Documentation Centre, Oby Nwankwo, Nigera
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre ˆ CISLAC Auwal Musa, Nigeria
Coalition of African Parliamentarians Against HIV/AIDS (CAPAH), Hon Lediana Mafuru, Tanzania
Community Perception, Ernest Kirwa, Kenya
Community Working Group on Health, Tafadzwa Carlington Chigariro (Intern), Zimbabwe
Cross-of Ministries International Uganda (CGMI),Rev, Edima Richard, Uganda
Darfur Consortium, Achieng Akena, Uganda
Department of Nursing Sciences, School of Medicine, Moi University, Benson W. Milimo (Nurse), Kenya
Development Alternatives With Women for New Era (DAWN-Africa), Ms. Fatou Sow/ Dr. Afua Hesse, Nigeria
DKA Support Office, Danich Petrasora
DVV International Madagascar, Rahadisoa Lucu Agnes, Madagascar
European Green Party, Joan Behrend
European Green Party, Ulrike Lunacek, MP Austria/Spokesperson, Austria
Fahamu ˆ Networks for Social Justice, Firoze Manji (Director), Kenya
Foundation for Sustainable Development, George Agan, Kenya
Foundation for Sustainable Development, Amanda Schwartz, Kenya
Forom Syd, Johanne Lindberg
George Washington University, Fitzhugh Mullan, MD (Murdock Head Professor of Medicine & Health Policy), USA
Global Aids Alliance, Paul Zeitz, USA
Global Fund for Women, Judy Gordon, USA
Global Fund for Women, Sande Smith, Snr Communications Officer, USA
Grassroots People’s Movement, Charles Ngano (Actions Coordinator)
Green Belt Movement Charles Gitani / Judy Kimamo, Kenya
Human Rights Olwch, Ogallah Japhet, Kenya
Institute of Economic Affairs, Frederick Muthengi, Kenya
Inter-African Committee (IAC),Dr. Morissanda Kouayte (Director of Operations),
International Association of Political Science Students, Adhengo Boaz, Kenya
International Oil Working Group, Katherian Sheetz,
International Press Centre, Lanre Arogundade, Nigeria
International Refugee Rights Initiative, Dismas Nkunda, Uganda
International Young Catholic Students (IYCS), Mawog Matthew, France
International Young Catholic Students (IYCS), Andrianasoko Sylria, Kenya
Intersect Worldwide, Sally Fisher (President), South Africa
Institute for Democracy in South Africa ˆ Governance & Aids Prog (IDASA), Kondwani Chirambo/Josina Machel, South Africa
Kenya Treatment Access Movement (KETAM), James Kamau, Kenya
Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO), Allan Ragi (Executive Director), Kenya
Kenya Health Rights Advocacy Network (KHRAN), Miano Munene, Kenya
KIGEZI Healthcare Foundation, Dr. Anguyo Geoffrey, Uganda
LEADS Adejor Abel, Nigeria
Marakwet Youth Network, Kipehuniba Kafelulo
Network of Zimbabwe Positive Women (NZPW+), Martha Tholanah (Coordinator), Zimbabwe
NGODEP, Mwinyi Juma, Kenya
Nigeria Social Forum, Kenneth Okoineme, Nigeria
North Rift Human Rights Network, Kelitem C. Benjamin / Stephen Cheboi
Pan African Christian AIDS Network (PACANet), Rev. Edward Baralemwa (Executive Director), Uganda
Oeuvre de Charité et Développement de LEMBA (OCDL ongd/asbl) Cyprien Mananga, Congo
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), HIV Program, Sisonke Msimang / Delme Cupido, South Africa
Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Senegal
OSISA Policy and Advocacy Manager, Roshnees Narrandes
Physicians for Human Rights, Eric A. Friedman (Snr Global Health Policy Advisor), USA
POSITIVE-Generation fogué foguito, Cameroon
Positive Women’s Network, South Africa, Prudence Mabele, South Africa
Public Personalities Against Aids Trust, Tendayi Westerhof, Zimbabwe
Santayalla Support Society (Togo), Tete-koffi Wilson, Togo
Senator Josejuvan Sacramento, Mexico
Senator Teresa Ortno, Mexico
Society for Women and AIDS in Africa ˆ Southern Africa (SWAA Mozambique), Christiano Macuamule, Mozambique
Society for Women and AIDS in Africa, Connie Mureithi, Kenya
Southern Africa HIV & AIDS Dissemination Services (Safaids), Dominica Mudota, Zimbabwe
Southern Africa Regional Poverty Network, Caroline Sande, Political Dimensions Programme Manager, South Africa
Southern and East African Alliance of Parliamentary Committees on Health and HIV/AIDS (SEAPACOH), Hon Blessing Chebundo, Zimbabwe
Standard Newspapers, Edith Fortunate, Kenya
Stop TB and HIV/AIDS, Abdoulaye Cham, Gambia
Student-Worker Solidarity Society, Iddrisu Tanko, Ghana
Students acting for Gender Equality, University of Delaware, Amy Vernon Jones, USA
Tbaction Kenya,Lucy Chesire, Kenya
The Battle for Life, Mug-Jay Shino,
Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Regis Mtutu, South Africa
Tuberculosis National League Aurelia Nicole Nguejo, Cameroon
University of Nairobi Medical Students Association, Kevin Ongeti, Kenya
UK AIDS and Human Rights Project, Dr Delphine Valette (Director), UK
VDAYE, Susan Lister, USA
Volunteer for Africa, D. Njagi
VSO-UK Nina O‚Farrell (Policy Advisor HIV 7 AIDS), UK
WECADI, Samson Kasozi,
West African Social Forum, Ms Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi
Women Advocates and Research Documentation Centre (WARDC), Nigeria
Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF/FeDDAF), Togo
World Aids Campaign (WAC), Mr. Marcel van Soest, Netherlands
World Aids Campaign (WAC), Felicita Hikuam, South Africa
Youth Development Forum (YODEFO), Ibrahim Kasozi (Executive Director), Uganda
Zimbabwe Activists Against HIV and AIDS (ZAHA)
Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians, Dr. Jabulani Nyenwa, Zimababwe
Agatha Wangeri Kahara, Kenya
Alfred K. Nyale
Andre Jaime Makwarimba Calengo- Lawyer and Human Rights activist,Mozambique
Believe Dhliwaya, Canada
Brian MacGarry (Catholic Priest), Zimbabwe
Diana A. Kolek, Kenya
Dr. Wolfpang Boahin
Emily Helmeid, USA
Francis Hansen, USA
Giampaolo Cadalanu, Italy
Hajjat Fatmo Anyanzwe, Kenya
Hamakwa Mantina (MD), Zambia
Joyce Joan Wangui, freelance journalist
Laurah Harrison (Lawyer), Zambia
Dr. Panganai Dhliwayo (MD) Namibia
Silvia Norara, USA
Tjwangwa Dema, Poet, Botswana
Thomson Odoki (Social Worker), Uganda
Tonia Corwin, USA
Zachary Schater, USA
From Pan-Africanism to the union of Africa
Is it a realistic debate to be having at this time, when the continent is afflicted with so many other problems and challenges? To what extent are the majority of African people aware that this debate is going on? Before we can even begin to grapple with these questions, says Tim Murithi, we need to pose the question: how we have got to the point that we are discussion a Union of Africa Government or the so-called United States of Africa?
It is appropriate to reflect on the debate that has been raging on the prospects for further continental integration and the impending discussions on the Union Government Project. During the 8th Ordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 29 to 30 January 2007, the decision was taken to devote the next meeting of the Assembly to an elaborately titled 'Grand Debate on the Union Government'. From 8 to 9 May 2007, the Executive Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs met in Durban, South Africa to brainstorm on the state of the Union. The groundwork has therefore been laid for discussions to take place in Accra about the direction that the AU should take.
We could question whether it is indeed appropriate and realistic to be debating a Union Government at this time. Have AU member states mastered the art of rudimentary unification? Do they yet speak with a unified voice and act based on a common purpose? To add to this casserole of doubt the continent is still afflicted by so many other problems and challenges from conflict, to underdevelopment and inadequate public health services. Ultimately, by adding a pinch of scepticism about the genuine political will of AU member states to pool their sovereignty, it seems that the Grand Debate may be no more than a storm in a tea cup, much-ado-about-not-very-much. But perhaps this is a bit dismissive!
Is it indeed a realistic debate to be having at this time, when the continent is afflicted with so many other problems and challenges? To what extent are the majority of African people aware that this debate is going on? If they are not aware, who is having this conversation on their behalf? How can a Union Government Project succeed if it does not have the buy-in and the support of the people of Africa?
But before we can even begin to grapple with these questions we do need to pose the question: how we have got to the point that we are discussion a Union of Africa Government or the so-called United States of Africa? Only by tracing the trajectory of the evolution of the notion of Pan-Africanism can we begin to contextualize the impetus behind the impending 'Grand Debate on the Union Government'.
This paper will assess the origins of Pan-Africanism and discuss the norms that animated this movement. It will then assess how Pan-Africanism was institutionalized in the form of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the present day African Union (AU). It will argue that the Grand Debate on the Union Government is only the latest incarnation of an attempt to institutionalise Pan-Africanism. Understanding the reasons why Pan-Africanism gained currency as a movement and liberatory ideology will help us to understand this Grand Debate. The past in this sense is influencing the present and will ultimately inform the future. The paper will assess the role that civil society can play in contributing to the Union Government debate. The paper will also question whether the Union Government of Africa Project will be built on a solid enough foundation to realize the aspirations of Pan-Africanism. It will conclude by assessing the limits of continental integration.
What is Pan-Africanism?
It is often assumed that the process of continental integration begun with an Extra-ordinary Summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) convened in Sirte, Libya, in 1999. In fact, the process begun with the Pan-African movement and its demand for greater solidarity among the peoples of Africa. To understand the emergence of the African Union we need to understand the evolution of the Pan-African movement. A review of the objectives and aspirations of Pan-Africanism provides a foundation to critically assess the creation of the AU and its prospects for promoting the principles and norms of peace and development.
Historically Pan-Africanism, the perception by Africans in the diaspora and on the continent that they share common goals, has been expressed in different forms by various actors. There is no single definition of Pan-Africanism and in fact we can say that there are as many ideas about Pan-Africanism as there are thinkers of Pan-Africanism. Rather than being a unified school of thought, Pan-Africanism is more a movement which has as its common underlying theme the struggle for social and political equality and the freedom from economic exploitation and racial discrimination.
It is interesting to note that it is the global dispersal of peoples of African descent that is partly responsible for the emergence of the Pan-African movement. As Hakim Adi and Marika Sherwood, observe in their book Pan-African History: Political Figures from African and the Diaspora Since 1787, ‘Pan-Africanism has taken on different forms at different historical moments and geographical locations’. Adi and Sherwood note that, what underpins these different perspectives on Pan-Africanism is ‘the belief in some form of unity or of common purpose among the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora.’ One can also detect an emphasis on celebrating ‘Africaness’, resisting the exploitation and oppression of Africans and their kin in the Diaspora as well as a staunch opposition to the ideology of racial superiority in all its overt and covert guises.
Pan-Africanism is an invented notion. It is an invented notion with a purpose. We should therefore pose the question what is the purpose of Pan-Africanism? Essentially, Pan-Africanism is a recognition of the fragmented nature of the existence of African’s, their marginalization and alienation whether in their own continent or in the Diaspora. Pan-Africanism seeks to respond to Africa’s underdevelopment. Africa has been exploited and a culture of dependency on external assistance unfortunately still prevails on the continent. If people become too reliant on getting their support, their nourishment, their safety, from outside sources, then they do not strive find the power within themselves to rely on their own capacities. Pan-Africanism calls upon Africans to drawn from their own strength and capacities and become self-reliant.
Pan-Africanism is a recognition that Africans have been divided among themselves. They are constantly in competition among themselves, deprived of the true ownership of their own resources and inundated by paternalistic external actors with ideas about what it ‘good’. Modern day paternalism is more sophisticated and dresses itself up as a kind and gentle helping hand with benign and benevolent intentions. In reality it seeks to maintain a ‘master-servant’ relationship and does not really want to see the genuine empowerment and independence of thought in Africa.
The net effect of this is to dis-empower Africans from deciding for themselves the best way to deal with the problems and issues they are facing. Pan-Africanism is a recognition that the only way out of this existential, social, political crisis is by promoting greater solidarity amongst Africans. Genuine dialogue and debate in Africa will not always generate consensus, but at least it will be dialogue among Africans about how they might resolve their problems. If ideas are not designed by the African’s, then rarely can they be in the interests of Africans.
Institutionalisation of Pan-Africanism: The OAU
In the twentieth century, the idea of Pan-Africanism took an institutional form. Initially, there were the Pan-African Congress’ which convened in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, under the leadership of activists like the African-American writer and thinker WEB. du Bois; the Trinidadian Henry Sylvester Williams; and inspired often by the ideas of people like the Jamaican-American Marcus Garvey. These ideas were adopted and reformed by continental African leaders in the middle of the twentieth century. Kwame Nkrumah who later became the first president of Ghana, Sekou Toure of Guinea, Leopold Senghor of Senegal, Banar Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Ali Ben Bella of Algeria took the idea of Pan-Africanism to another level on 25 May 1963 when they co-created the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The principles of the OAU kept the spirit of Pan-Africanism alive. The primary objective of this principle was to continue the tradition of solidarity and cooperation among Africans.
During the era of the OAU the key challenge was colonialism. Since 1885, in what was then known as the 'Scramble for Africa' European colonial powers had colonized African peoples and communities across the entire continent. The Belgians were in the Congo, the British in East, South, West and North Africa. The French in West Africa, Somalia, Algeria and other parts of north Africa. The Italians in Somalia. The Germans, who later lost their colonies following their defeat in the Second World War, had to relinquish Namibia and modern day Tanzania. Africans had successfully fought on the side of the allies in the Second World War and after its conclusion they brought their struggle for independence back home to Africa.
The OAU embraced the principle of Pan-Africanism undertook the challenge of liberating all African countries from the grip of settler colonialism. The main principle that it was trying to promote was to end racial discrimination upon which colonialism with its doctrine of racial superiority was based. In addition, the OAU sought to assert the right of Africans to control their social, economic and political affairs and achieve the freedom necessary to consolidate peace and development. The OAU succeeded in its primary mission, with the help of international actors, in liberating the continent on 27 April 1994, when a new government based on a one-person-one-vote came into being in South Africa under the leadership of Nelson Mandela. The OAU however was not as effective in monitoring and policing the affairs of its own Member States when it came to the issues of violent conflict; political corruption; economic mismanagement; poor governance; lack of human rights; lack of gender equality; and poverty eradication.
The preamble of the OAU Charter of 1963 outlined a commitment by member states collectively establish, maintain and sustain the 'human conditions for peace and security'. However, in parallel, the same OAU Charter contained the provision to 'defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the member states'. This was later translated into the norm of non-intervention. The key organs of the OAU - the council of ministers and the Assembly of heads of state and government - could only intervene in a conflict situation if they were invited by the parties to a dispute. Many intra-state disputes were viewed, at the time, as internal matters and the exclusive preserve of governments is concerned.
The OAU created a Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in Cairo, in June 1993. This instrument was ineffective in resolving disputes on the continent. Tragically, the Rwandan genocide which was initiated in April 1994 happened while this mechanism was operational. It was also during this last decade of the twentieth-century that the conflict in Somalia led to the collapse of the state and the violence in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan led to the death of millions of Africans.
These devastating events illustrated the limitations of the OAU as an institution that could implement the norms and principles that it articulated. Despite the existence of the OAU’s mechanisms for conflict prevention and management, the Rwandan tragedy demonstrated the virtual impotence of the OAU in the face of violent conflict within its member states. The United Nations (UN) did not fare any better as all of its troops, except the Ghanaian contingent, pulled out of the country leaving its people to the fate. Subsequently, both the OAU and the UN issued reports acknowledging their failures. The impetus for the adoption of a new paradigm in the promotion of peace and security in the African continent emerged following the Rwandan tragedy.
Regrettably due to the doctrine of non-intervention, the OAU became a silent observer to the atrocities being committed by some of its member states. Eventually, a culture of impunity and indifference became entrenched in the international relations of African countries during the era of the 'proxy' wars of the Cold War. So in effect the OAU was a toothless talking shop. The OAU was perceived as a club of African Heads of States, most of whom were not legitimately elected representatives of their own citizens but self-appointed dictators and oligarchs. This negative perception informed people’s attitude towards the OAU. It was viewed as an Organization that existed without having a genuine impact on the daily lives of Africans.
The African Union
The African Union came into existence in July 2002, in Durban, South Africa. It was supposed to usher Africa into a new era of continental integration leading to a deeper unity and a resolution of its problems. The evolution of the AU from the Organisation of African Unity was visionary and timely. The OAU had failed to live up to all of its norms and principles. Africa at the time of the demise of the OAU was a continent that was virtually imploding from within due to the pressures of conflict, poverty and underdevelopment and public health crisis like malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The OAU effectively died of a cancer of inefficiency because it basically had not lived up to its original ideals of promoting peace, security and development in Africa. The African Union has emerged as a homegrown initiative to effectively take the destiny of the continent into the hands of the African people. However, there is a long way to go before the AU’s vision and mission is realised.
The AU is composed of 53 member states. It is run by the AU Commission based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Chairperson of the Commission is Alpha Oumar Konare. Its top decision making organ is the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government, its executive decision-making organ is the Executive Council of Ministers, who work closely with the Permanent Representatives Committee of Ambassadors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The AU has also established range of institutions which will be discussed below.
If we know the ‘purpose’ of Pan-Africanism then the steps to achieve its goals become clearer to understand. It is in this context that we can begin to understand the emergence of the African Union. It would be a mistake to view the African Union as an aberration that just emerged in the last few years. It would be more appropriate to view the AU as only the latest incarnation of the idea of Pan-Africanism. The first phase of the institutionalization of the Pan-Africanism was the Pan-African Congress’ that were held from the end of the nineteenth-century and into the beginning of the twentieth-century. The second phase of the institutionalization of Pan-Africanism was the inauguration of the Organization of African Unity. The third phase of the institutionalization of Pan-Africanism is in effect the creation of the African Union. It will not be the last phase. Subsequent phases and organizations will bring about ever closer political, economic, social and ties among African peoples. African unity is an idea that can be traced back to the nineteenth-century. The African Union is a twenty-first century expression of a nineteenth-century idea. As such it is an imperfect expression, but nevertheless the best expression of Pan-Africanism that can be brought forth at this time.
Towards a Union of Africa?
The agenda to establish a Union Government of Africa or the so-called United States of Africa is well underway. At the core of this debate is the desire to create several ministerial portfolios for the African Union. During the 4th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, from 30 to 31 January 2005, in Abuja, Nigeria, the AU agreed to the proposals made by the Libyan Government to establish ministerial portfolios for the organisation.
Specifically, in the 6th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of AU Ministers, Libya proposed the establishment of the posts of Minister of Transport and Communications to unify transportation in Member States to be under the competence of the AU which will include airports and main ports of African capital cities, highways, inter-State railways, State-owned airline companies which are to become the basis for a single African airline company. Ultimately, Libya proposed that this should lead to 'the creation of a post of Minister of Transportation and Communications'.
Similarly, Libya also proposed the creation of the post of Minister of Defence to oversee 'a joint policy on defence and security of the Union and provide for the reinforcement of peace, security and stability on the continent'. This Libyan proposal noted that the provisions of the AU Constitutive Act, of 2000, and the AU Protocol on Peace and Security, 0f 2002, have effectively established a 'Joint Defence Framework'. As a logical step in the implementation of the Protocols and establishment of the institutions of the AU the Libyan proposal emphasised the importance of establishing this post to oversee and 'defend the security of Member States against any foreign aggression and to achieve internal security and stability'. In addition,
Libya also proposed the establishment of the post of an African Union Minister of Foreign Affairs. Central to its argument is that AU countries undermine their own influence when its 53 Foreign Ministers, each individually representing their own governments speak simultaneously and occasionally in contradiction with each other. The Libyan proposal notes that this post is necessary in order to expedite 'the Continent’s political, economic and social integration and to reinforce and defend unified African positions on issues of mutual interest' in the international sphere.
In order to respond to these proposals the AU Assembly decided to 'set up a Committee of Heads of State and Government chaired by the President of the Republic of Uganda and composed of Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia' to liaise with the Chairperson of the AU Commission submit a report by the next summit in July 2005. In November 2005, the Committee convened a conference under the theme 'Desirability of a Union Government of Africa'. This meeting included members of the Committee, representatives of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), technical experts, academics, civil society and Diaspora representatives, as well as the media. The conference came up with three key conclusions including the recognition that the necessity of an AU Government is not in doubt; such a Union must be of the African people and not merely a Union of states and governments; its creation must come about through the principle of gradual incrementalism; and that the role of the RECs should be highlighted as building blocks for the continental framework.
Based on the findings of this conference the Assembly mandated the AU Commission to prepare a consolidated framework document defining the purpose of the Union government, its nature, scope, core values, steps and processes as well as an indicative roadmap for its achievement. The Assembly reaffirmed 'that the ultimate goal of the African Union is full political and economic integration leading to a United States of Africa'. The Assembly further established a Committee of Heads of State and Government to be chaired by President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairperson of the African Union, and composed of the Heads of State and Government of Algeria, Kenya, Senegal, Gabon, Lesotho and Uganda. More specifically, the Assembly requested the Committee to consider 'the steps that need to be taken for the realization of this objective, the structure, the process, the time frame required for its achievement as well as measures that should be undertaken, in the meantime, to strengthen the ability of the Commission to fulfill its mandate effectively'.
The Chairperson of the Committee of Seven, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, submitted a detailed report entitled: A Study on an African Union Government: Towards the United States of Africa, on July 2006, to the 7th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in Banjul, Gambia. Some of the key themes emerging from this report highlighted the fact that Africa is over-dependent on the external world particularly with regards to expatriate technicians and technology.
It also noted that Africa has not fully exploited its potential at national, regional and continental levels with reference to trade, education and health sectors. It notes that 'a United Africa would have the unique potential of producing most types of food and agricultural produce throughout the year'. The study also notes that in the context of globalization 'the challenges of overdependence and under-exploitation of its potentials have increased the marginalisation of the continent in world affairs'. The study further outlines the 16 strategic areas that an African Union Government should focus on including continental integration; education, training, skills development, science and technology; energy; environment; external relations; food, agriculture, and water resources; gender and youth; governance and human rights; health; industry and mineral resources; finance; peace and security; social affairs and solidarity; sport and culture; trade and customs union; infrastructure, Information technology and biotechnology.
The study notes that the 'design and functioning of a Union Government as a tool for integration would have far-reaching implications on the existing institutions and programmes of the African Union'. It further assesses the implications of a Union Government on the organs of the AU. The most notable impact would be the 'need to consider allowing a longer tenure (about 3 years for example) for the President of the Assembly' of the AU. The President of the Assembly would also be the unique spokesperson of the Union at world or other special summits. Therefore the study notes that, 'it would be desirable that the function of President be on a full time basis and could be assigned to a Former Head of State or any distinguished African with the necessary background and track record for the job'. Another notable innovation would be that 'under the Union Government, the AU Commission will be entrusted with the implementation of decisions, programmes and projects in the Strategic focus areas, which will constitute the Community Domain'. This notion of issues falling under the Community Domain would assign the Commission with 'the executive authority and responsibility to effectively implement' policies. The study also recognises that 'the logic of using the RECs as building blocks for the eventual deep, continental integration remains valid. The challenge is in aligning, synchronizing and harmonizing the integration efforts of member states, the RECs themselves, and the AU'.
There are also national implications of the establishment of a Union Government. The study notes that it is vital 'to build the necessary constitutency for advancing political integration'. In this regard, some countries have already set up Ministries in charge of integration and other countries should follow suit. The study notes that 'there is also a need to devise appropriate mechanisms for legislative implications at the national level' and 'the direct involvement of the people in promoting the Union Government could also be in the form of national associations or commissions for the United States of Africa'. In terms of financing the Union Government the study discusses the possibility of establishing indirect taxation schemes particularly with regards to an import levy and an insurance tax. A meeting of ECOSOCC in March 2005 proposed 'imposing a five US dollar tax on each air ticket bought for inter-state travels and 10 US Dollars on each ticket for travelers between Africa and other continents'. Ultimately, the study is positive about the prospects for a Union Government and outlines 3 phases for the transition to a Union Government, including:
1. The initial phase – commencing immediately after the decision of the Assembly at the AU summit in July 2007. It will include all the steps and processes that are necessary for the immediate operationalisation of the Union Government.
2. The second phase – will be devoted to making the Union Government fully operational in all its components and to laying the constitutional ground for the United States of Africa.
3. The third phase – will aim at the facilitation of all required structures of the United States of Africa at the levels of states, the regions and the continent.
The study recommends a 3-year period for each phase which will mean that the United States of Africa will be formed by the year 2015. Elections at continental, regional and national levels would be held, paving the way for the official constitution of the United States of Africa.
The study was considered by the Executive Council at its 9th Extraordinary Session held from 17 to 18 November 2006 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. According to the report of this meeting there was a view that
1) 'all Member States accept the United States of Africa as a common and desirable goal', but differences exist over the modalities and time frame for achieving this goal and the appropriate pace of integration; and
2) there is a common agreement on the need for an audit review of the state of the Union in order to know the areas in which significant improvements have to be made to accelerate the integration process.
The report of the Executive Council was submitted to the AU Assembly in January 2007 which decided to devote the July Summit to a Grand Debate.
The role of civil society in continental integration
It is important to include people and civil society in this Grand Debate. To what extent are the majority of African people aware that this debate is going on? If they are not aware, who is having this conversation on their behalf? How can a Union Government Project succeed if it does not have the by-in and the support of the people of Africa? Can there be an African Union Government without African Citizenship? Where are the African citizens in this debate? More questions than we care to answer. To be fair the AU will convene from 28 to 30 May an all-inclusive continental consultation on the Union Government Project, at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, as part of the preparations towards the Accra meeting.
So civil society will have the opportunity to contribute to this Grand Debate. There is also the issue of the extent to which the AU is consulting with the wider African public on the issue of the Grand Debate. The AU has established a website inviting public contributions on this Grand Debate. However, some civil society activists have argued that an African Union Government is a pipe dream without laying the foundations for genuine African citizenship.
The limits of top-down continental ontegration
Will the establishment of a United States of Africa generate accusations of lack of originality? Some key actors within the AU want to have a US of Africa so that they can rival the power of other global players. There is nothing wrong with such an objective in principle. However, there are limits to a US of Africa. Notably, the USA as it is currently framed is:
1. A top-down approach to continental integration;
2. Governed by the whimsical will of the leaders of African governments;
3. Has a tendency towards un-democratic practices, like lack of consultation;
4. Through its formulation, which largely excluded African civil society, effectively governed by the rule of Heads of State and not the continental rule of law.
The objective behind the US of Africa should not be primary one of increasing the level of global competitiveness of the continent. Rather a primary focus should be on improving the livelihood of African people as a whole. For this to happen further continental integration has to be motivated by the founding principles of Pan-Africanism, namely a commitment to democratic governance, human rights protection and the rule of law. Anti-democratic actors who herald and proclaim the importance of establishing a United States of Africa, should not be allowed to replicate the anti-democratic policies and practices at a continental level.
If Africa is striving for genuine continental integration based on progressive principles, we should perhaps seek to forge a Federal Union of Africa (FUA) rather than a United States of Africa. This will begin to delineate and demarcate and articulate the founding principles of a union of African countries and their societies. A Federal Union of Africa should ideally be at once federal in nature; based on the democratic will of its people; governed through the consent of African people; and governed by the rule of law and the protection of human rights for all African peoples.
In the final analysis, the Grand Debate on the Union Government is indeed welcome. The injunction that the great Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah left us with is still valid: 'Africa must Unite, or disintegrate individually'. Somehow the Grand Debate captures this spirit and could be viewed as only the latest incarnation of an attempt to institutionalise Pan-Africanism. Understanding the motivations between Pan-Africanism will help us to understand this Grand Debate. But it is also appropriate to question whether the Union Government of Africa Project will be built on a solid enough foundation to realise the aspirations of Pan-Africanism and improve the well-being of Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. The past in this sense is influencing the present, it remains to be seen whether it will ultimately inform the future.
* Dr. Tim Murithi, Senior Researcher, Direct Conflict Prevention Programme, Institute for Security Studies (ISS-Addis Ababa Office). This paper was presented on Africa Day, 25 May 2007, at the Department of Political Studies and International Relations, Addis Ababa University and an Oxfam-AfroFlag Vision Seminar, at Axum Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Dr. Tim Murithi, Senior Researcher, Direct Conflict Prevention Programme, Institute for Security Studies (ISS-Addis Ababa Office). This paper was presented on Africa Day, 25 May 2007, at the Department of Political Studies and International Relations, Addis Ababa University and an Oxfam-AfroFlag Vision Seminar, at Axum Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Round-up of CSO discussions on continental government
On July 2007 the ordinary Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union will meet to discuss the nature of the continent’s integration agenda and the progress that has been made. This is the next, and probably the most important step to date in what started off as a desire to create continent-wide ministerial portfolio and has now grown into a full-scale drive to establish a Union government for the continent. This intergovernmental forum will assess the state of the Union and attempt to map a way forward in terms of nature, scope and time frame of a continental arrangement. In the lead-up to the grand debate there has been substantial consultation among interested parties at country and regional level across aimed at soliciting and articulating the views of the African people on the proposal for a continental government.
It is within this context that civil society groups met in Midrand, South Africa to first and foremost reaffirm the need for broad based consultation and input of the peoples of Africa. The meeting underlined the importance of the Pan African Parliament in seeking out and representing the views of their constituencies in the matter. The meeting stressed the primacy of democracy and rights-based governance. The groups also emphasized the need for governments to facilitate the input of their citizens on the issue. Of equal importance was the free movement of citizens of the continent through the abolition of visa requirements as well as exploring mechanisms for economic sustainability.
Nigerian civil society groups echoed these views when they met in May. The meeting concluded that whereas the idea of a Union government was desirable, there were challenges that needed to be overcome before the vision became a reality, such as common political and cultural values, identity, citizenship integration and state power. Again the issue of democracy and human rights was highlighted as an area of grave concern, and although fora such as theirs were taking place there was a need for greater attention to maintaining the vital link between the leaders and the people they represent in as far as the latter’s views were expressed and taken into consideration. Needless to say, this is a major challenge given that there still is a dearth of true democratic representation on the continent.
In June civil society groups in Kenya met to discus the proposed union government. In addition to echoing calls for greater attention to democracy, governance, human rights and free movement and economic participation for citizens across the continent, the meeting called for public access to information about the process, principles of good governance within the AU and African peoples sovereignty over the continent’s natural resources.
Debate in Ghana focussed on the institutional implications of the Union Government, as well as the need for the people of Africa to participate fully in the process. Concern was raised about foreign interest in the process, as well as the risks inherent in modelling western constructs of integration. As one speaker put it, “if indeed Africa has to come together in a continental and economic bloc, we all have to go back to school and unlearn what we have learnt in order to connect top the peculiar circumstances of Africa”.
Two schools of thought seem to emerge in the discussion. One favours a rapid formation of a Union government as a clear sign of intent and determination that will drive the process on. In other words, the political will involved in forming the union will provide the necessary impetus to ensure success of the venture, and advance the goal of a United States of Africa from a nebulous dream cherished since the heady beginnings of Pan-Africanism to a concrete reality. The other seems to favour a more gradual process based on strengthening the existing framework of the AU to ensure before creating a full-fledged United States of Africa. This school of thought is cognisant of the shortcomings of the AU as it exists today, and the challenges faced even at the level of regional economic communities in trying to forge greater integration.
African scholar Demba Moussa Dembele point to the lack of political will as evidenced by numerous agreements on regional integration dating back as far as thirty years that still remain unimplemented. He attributes this to a lack of willingness of leaders to put the interests of the continent above the personal and national. It is however impossible to have this discussion without considering the legitimacy of Africa’s leaders and whether their authority stems from the their own people. Dembele mentions external and internal factors that challenge the process, and states that the external factors both take advantage of, and aggravate the internal ones. He emphasizes the need for a leadership that both listens to its citizens and stands up to foreign domination.
At the Kenyan consultation forum Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem stated “it is better to have imperfection with ownership than perfection without any ownership”, underlining the primacy of the African peoples in the process. Whereas not all governments provide a voice for their people, other equally important channels continue to open up, through various national and trans-national civil society groupings that are increasingly articulating the views of the people. These channels must be encouraged and given voice. Whereas there have been various consultations, clearly this is by no means sufficient or widespread enough as far as the continent is concerned. Suffice it to say that there is a commonality of views raised at these meetings in terms of the issues affecting the rest of the continent
The debate has begun already and the voices of the people clearly say that they must lead and the governments follow on the road to a United States of Africa.
Useful links and Further Reading:
1. Grand Debate on the Union Government
2. Pambazuka News AU Monitor
3. Communiqué from Kenyan Public Forum to popularise and inform the Government’s position on the AU proposal on Continental Government.
4. Editorial: Leader must finally Decide on a Government. By Joseph Kabiru
5. Involve the masses in the fight for African unity. Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
6. The Untied States of Africa: The Challenges. Demba Moussa Dembele
7. Development plan for United States of Africa unclear. Ayuure Kapini & Suleiman Mustapha
8. Africa needs to look at the past to forge ahead. Dr. Mammo Muchie
9. Submission from Civil Society Organisations to the Pan African
Parliament on the Proposal for Continental Government
10. Afrimap – Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project http://www.afrimap.org/research.php
* Joshua Ogada works with Fahamu and is Links and Resources editor of Pambazuka News
** Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Interviews with African activists on continental unity
Popularise the Union, its time has come
Interview with Bougouma Diagne, Cultural Association for Social and Educational Self-Promotion.
Without free trade and free movement, no need for Africans to unite
Interview with George Adhanja, The Kenya National Council of NGOs
Open the borders, let Africans challenge HIV/Aids together!
Interview with Wasai J. Nanjakululu, a Kenyan based in Nairobi, working on HIV/Aids policy at the Agency for Cooperation in Research and Development (ACORD)
No continental union without peace and security
Interview with Joseph Yav is a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
A Fine Idea, let’s prioritise peace, women’s rights and health!
Interview with Roselynn Musa, African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)
Give room for civil society participation before adoption
Interview with Sanusi Ibraheem, The Intellectual Group, Nigeria
Continental union is viable, but only with commitment and practice
Interview with Pastor Peter Omoragbon, Executive Director of Nurses Across The Borders
Democratic political leadership: pre-condition for continental union
African Union Monitor
Interview with Arnold Tsunga, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
Links to previous articles in Pambazuka News
The United States of Africa: The challenges
Demba Moussa Dembele
Demba Moussa Dembele examines the external and internal challenges faced by Africa in the face of globalization and the US led war on terror and asks if the current African leadership is up to building the United States of Africa in the present global environment.
The essential building blocks of the pan-African vision
Issa Shivji continues the debate on the creation of a 'United States of Africa'. Drawing on past experience and present initiatives of regional cooperation in East Africa, he suggests that the economic focus should be at the level of production – capital and labour, rather than on trade. Politically, it should be people-centred rather than state-oriented.
Pan African unity: Can Africa match the bid?
The idea of a United States of Africa is the visionary outcome of a Pan African Unity. Gichinga Ndirangu presents the case for a United States of Africa and points out some of the major stumbling blocks that need to be overcome before Nkrumah’s dream of a united Africa becomes a reality.
Plan d’action pour un Etat fédéral africain
Sanou Mbaye (2007-05-25)
Au lendemain de la seconde guerre mondiale, deux écoles de pensées dominaient les débats chez les militants des indépendances africaines. Il y avait, d’un côté, les «modérés», alliés des occidentaux, qui étaient partisans du maintien des frontières artificielles héritées du colonialisme, et de l’autre, les «progressistes» qui militaient pour des indépendances devant conduire à la mise sur pied d’un gouvernement continental devant présider aux destinées des Etats-Unis d’Afrique. Les premiers l’ayant remporté sur les seconds, l’Afrique s’est ipso facto dotée d’un environnement économique impropre au développement, comme cela s’est vérifié depuis les indépendances.
Inspired by Robtel, Wazir and Annwen
I shall start with Annwen's contribution (which, by the way could also go to Tutu's successor's comments on the G8).
Thank you for all of these contributions they have encouraged and inspired me to write a few things which, I hope, can to this sort of live parliament of the people. It could also be a Shir or a Mbongi or a baraza or a plaver. In a sense, as we keep trying to say affirm who we are, one of our difficulties is that, now and then we keep (often unconsciously) borrowing from the very definitions which have come about through the very processes we are denouncing and condemning. Africa's 'discovery'/'definitions/anthropologisation/' of Africa has created, over time, a multiple battle front.
For the sake of simplicity, let us keep it at two: one against the enemy from outside and the other against the enemy from within. The 'discoverers' have kept destroying from without and from within. Their logic is quite coherent: destruction is only destruction if it is carried out by the Africans. Discovery is only discovery is it is done by the inaugural 'discoverers'. And with this kind of mindset other things are pushed through, such as the Enlightenment which, in terms of Africa, should be refered to as the darkest period of humanity (see Louis Sala-Molins' Les misères des Lumières, among others).
Nothingness shall only become something through the charitable works of reconstruction (Here we should revisit the US historical period referred to as The Reconstruction and see what it meant for the black population following the so-called abolition in 1865, itself the launching pad for the Prison Industrial Complex - see Angela Davies' Are Prisons Obsolete?
Charity and solidarity Out of capitalist destruction/reconstruction/destruction/reconstruction huge profits have been made and continue to be made. Tax laws allow charitable giving which are tax deductible and so, the richest foundations can be found in the countries which have been pushing suicidal, genocidal capitalism to its current limits of globalized destruction/discovery.
In Africa one of the most revered values is solidarity. There is a huge difference between solidarity and charity. Thanks to exchanges with Prof. Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, here are some of them: charity means, by definition submission and silence, contrary to solidarity which means, by definition equality and togertheness. Charity as an outcome of massive accumulation of wealth cannot but reproduce poverty.
One of the reasons why the G8 and their associates can only talk about poverty and its elimination and not do anything about its elimination comes from this every contradiction: the system in place has made them collectively rich, and any attempt to 'fix' it to help the poor would/could spell disaster for their own future. That is how they see it, but just like the whites under apartheid could not help but think as whites and not as blacks, they used their own logic to block the end of a system which was emprisoning them as well.
The mindset which has been built around charity has been devastating for those who have always adhered to the principles of solidarity.
Solidarity history versus the laundering of African history. This brings me to the piece by Wazir which I liked very much, but then, Wazir, I have to ask (I am assuming you are sitting in front of me) why did you leave Haiti out, with regard to the process of healing toward togertheness of all of the Wretched of the Earth. Cuba (which you mention) did in the 20th century what the Africans in Saint Domingue did in the 19th century. For the accumulators of dictatorial wealth, such trespassing ( i.e. doing the improbable, the impossible, the forbidden) must always be punished severely, individually and collectively. I am sure you noticed the pomp which surrounded the 2007 bi-centenary of abolition of the slave trade in London in March. That kind of celebration was principally aimed at showing off the high moral ground of the accumulators after they have consolidated and laundered their gains into an unassailable financial and economic system.
By now they have consolidated the mindset of this anonymous financial and economic system where no one and everybody is responsible, so to speak. This unassaiblable system has spawned ancillory structures like a so-called justice system which is deemed superior to anything which could be the alternative.
Thank you Robtel for your piece. I would add this. It is true that Gachacha originated in the world where solidarity dominated, but the resort by a state structure to Gachacha contains dangers and problems which should not be minimize. I also agree that TRC's are fundamentally flawed and should be replaced by processes which borrow from the spirit of healing solidarity so well described in Ayi Kwei Armah's novel Healers.
Thank you for your patience.
Tribute to Sembene Ousmane
A Retrospective: Ousmane Sembène’s Xala and Moolade
Montré Aza Missouri
In October 2003, at the opening of the Africa at the Picture film festival in London, veteran Senegalese film director Ousmane Sembène screened Faat Kine, the first of what had hoped to be a trilogy on the African heroism and with each film, strong female characters.
In Faat Kine, Djip of the son of female protagonist Faat Kine - a feisty single, unwed mother of two young adults and a businesswoman - publicly questions the authority of elders, as he refuses to show the customary respect to his absentee father. In this scene between father and son, Sembène pays homage to Pan-Africanism, as mural images of fallen heroes such as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) feature within the background of the frame.
During an interview immediately following the screening, Sembène, commonly referred to as the 'father of African film', gave his take on the African brain drain, the exodus of Africa’s young people to the West, as he recognised the degree of individual freedom African youth experience in America and Europe as oppose to the restrictions traditionally placed on young people in Africa. Then, age 80, Sembène also identified the generational gap between himself and the young people of his native country of Senegal. He went on to acknowledge the work and struggles of a new brand of Senegalese filmmakers including Moussa Sene Absa, director of Madame Brouette.
Despite, his assertion of a generational gap, Sembène’s films continue to resonant with African audiences, both young and older, because they challenge the prevailing notions of traditional African society and give voice to the far too often unheard masses.
From the beginning of his journey as a filmmaker, Sembène’s focus has been on speaking to his people. In his own words, in a 2005 interview with The Independent, he states: 'I create to talk to my people, my country. The priority is that my people can understand me. Africa needs to see its own reflection. A society progresses by asking questions of itself, so I want to be an artist who questions his people.'
In one of his earliest work, Borom Sarret, Sembène does just that, as the short drama follows a day in the life of a horse-cart driver. In this film, Sembène questions both the practice of the traditional, as the horse-cart driver struggles to decide whether to pay a griot for praise-singing, and the repressive nature of neo-colonialism, as the driver goes through a trencherous misadventure while he takes a passenger to the white section of the Dakar. Through Borom Sarret, Sembène critically examines the social and economic challenges of the working poor in Dakar, through the horse-cart driver who comes home from work empty handed and is left with the baby while his wife goes out to find money, perhaps resorting to prostitution.
In 1975, Sembène directed a film adaptation of his 1973 novel, Xala, in which he again tackles the frustrations and disillusionment with a neo-colonialist Senegal. Xala is a satirical look at the state of post-independence Africa, drawing a creative parallel between Senegal’s struggle for self-governance and the sexual impotence of the film’s main character El Hadji, a member of the newly constituted Chamber of Commerce. El Hadji uses his new position to launder money in order to pay for his elaborated wedding to his third wife.
Like many of Sembène’s films, Xala features strong females and gives a voice of wisdom and progression to younger characters that question the judgement of their elders. In a subtle yet prolific scene, Rama, El Hadji’s eldest daughter challenges her father’s preoccupation with western consumerism and his use of the former colonizers’ language as she answers all of her father’s questions in Wolof despite El Hadji having posed his questions in French. The use of indigenous language in Sembène’s work is an important characteristic that differentiates him from other African directors, as he was the first to rely on indigenous languages for film dialogue, reminiscent of Ngugi’s arguments on the use of language in African literature.
Beyond the dependence on Western culture, Rama also challenges traditional customs that for her, appear to be outdated such as her father’s polygamous marriages. Out all of the female characters in Xala, Françoise Pfaff asserts that Rama symbolises Sembène’s Marxist ideology as African liberation is directly mirrored by African women’s social and political emancipation, as represented in his films. According to Pfaff, 'with the winged swiftness and freedom of a modern day Amazon…Rama is a positive and refreshing counterpart to her father who represents the corrupted bourgeoisie who robs the masses and perpetuates the French neocolonial presence in Africa'.
By the end of the film, Rama along with her mother Awa, El Hadji’s first wife, witness the ultimate humiliation of El Hadji, as he is stripped naked and spat upon by 'human trash', the disable and refuge of the society, as a means for breaking the 'curse' of his sexual impotence. Here again, Sembène gives agency to the seemingly disadvantaged thereby challenging conventional notions of power.
In his last film, Moolaadé, Sembène once again portrays strong women as he takes on the highly controversial subject of female circumcision in Africa. In a small village in Burkina Faso, Collé the second wife of one of the villagers relies on the tradition of moolaadé, 'magical protection', a sanctuary to protect several young girls from the practice of 'purification' or female circumcision. Sembène addresses the subject of female circumcision brilliantly in this film, as he examines various aspects of the debate, recognising the central role that women play in maintaining the tradition as well as the role of men, in ignoring the politics of the practice, relegating the matter to women’s business.
In Moolaadé, Sembène also takes on the even larger question of the intersection between the so-called traditional and modern, as the son of a village elder returns from Paris for an arranged marriage to an uncircumcised bride. In this aspect of the plot, Sembène identifies the position the young men in either perpetuating or deterring female circumcision since it is believed that an eligible man will not marry a woman who is deemed to be uncircumcised and therefore unclean. In a poignant scene exploring the intrusion of modern-day life, the men of the village, afraid that the radio programmes frequently listened to by the women, may be to blame for the recent protest against the tradition of circumcision, gather all the transmitter radios from every home and place them in a large pile in the centre of the village thereby cutting the woman off from the rest of the world.
By the end of the film, when one of the village women takes her daughter out of the protection of Collé, to be circumcised and subsequently the woman’s daughter dies from the procedure, the intense social and spiritual bond of African womanhood is cinematically represented as Collé presents the grieving mother is an infant girl to care for and raise as her own daughter.
Throughout his life through activism, writing and later in filmmaking, Sembène worked diligently to not only reflect but to challenge his people and his country. In so doing he infused his own political ideology, tackling both the dependency on Western neo-colonialism and blind adherence to so-called tradition. Both were fair game for critical interrogation in Sembène’s films as he represented power in those deemed as powerless.
In Sembène’s female characters, one sees the embodiment of self-determination and strength as evident in Rama and Collé - the types of Africa women who are frequently overlooked within Western feminist discourse on Africa. Further, Sembène remained hopefully as reflected in his work, on the state of young people in Africa, believing that African youth would be the ones to move forward and transform the continent.
According to Sembène, cinema is the 'night school' of his people and he sough to educate within this medium, elevating the style and language of film in order to serve the needs of African audiences. Sembène was drawn to filmmaking not simply for art sake - for self-indulgent exploits, like that of the Italian neo-realists or the French new wave, but to use cinema as a libratory practice, compelling his audience to do more - to do more than simply sit in a dark room, staring at a glowing screen. Rather, through his films, Sembène asked of his African audiences to challenge, to innovate, to progress.
* Montré Aza Missouri is a filmmaker and PhD Candidate in the Centre for Media and Film Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Poem: Mungai's Story
Poetess of the people
He’d never seen the inside of a police cell
Just finished primary school the year before
His family was poor, what we call dirt poor
All they had was their belief in family and God
This is Mungai’s story
The laughing stock of his friends in school
Was it a crime to live in the slum
Eking a living from his mother’s
Porridge, maize and beans kiosk
Poverty never had been a choice
He’d watched his age mates turn to crime
Always said he’d never turn
Living on hope and a prayer a day
Until the sounds of army boots broke the night
Doors were kicked open
Couples hid as they were caught naked
Heavy boots crushed children sleeping on the floor
The foul stench of dog breath was at the door
All young men were rounded up
The criminals had long since sniffed
The cops and fled
Mungai was huddled with a group
Of young and not so young men
They were taken to the corner
And quite suddenly shot dead
Kenyan Writers: Call for submissions
Kenyan Writers – Call for Submissions (deadline approaching)
Ishmael Reed Publishing Co. is looking for new (and preferably not published elsewhere) short stories by Kenyan authors to be published in January 2008. Translated work from any of the Kenyan languages into English is particularly welcome. If you haven't already, please send your short story, accompanied by a brief author biography, to the anthology editor, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, at email@example.com with the subject heading, Kenya - new short fiction. The submission deadline is July 15, 2007. The file should be attached, in MS Word and not more than 20 pages double-spaced.
Kenya: Kenyan Writers – Call for Submissions
Ishmael Reed Publishing Co. is looking for new (and preferably not published elsewhere) short stories by Kenyan authors to be published in January 2008. Translated work from any of the Kenyan languages into English is particularly welcome. The submission deadline is July 15, 2007.
Kenyan Writers – Call for Submissions
Ishmael Reed Publishing Co. is looking for new (and preferably not published elsewhere) short stories by Kenyan authors to be published in January, 2008.
Translated work from any of the Kenyan languages into English is particularly welcome. If you haven't already, please send your short story, accompanied by a brief author biography, to the anthology editor, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject heading, Kenya - new short fiction. The submission deadline is July 15th, 2007. The file should be attached, in MS Word and not more than 20 pages double spaced.
Launch of new African studies publications
New books from Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Tejumola Olanyiyan and Ato Quayson
Three new books, African Literature: An Anthology of Theory and Criticism, edited by Tejumola Olanyiyan and Ato Quayson (Blackwell Publishing 2007); and The Study of Africa. Vols 1 & 2 edited by Paul Tiyambe Zeleza (CODESRIA 2006/7) are being launched on Thursday 21 June at 7.30pm at Barabara's Bookstore, 1218 South Halsted Street (lower floor of Thomas Beckham Hall), University of Illinois at Chicago.
African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory represents 'a gathering of the best critical work on African literature and larger questions of literary history, the sociology of literature, criticism and theory', according to Simon Gikandi, professor of English at Princeton University. It brings together previously published essays from Alain Ricard, Bernth Lindfors, V. Y. Mundimbe, Abiola Irele, Chinua Achebe, Nadine Gordimer, Naguib Mafouz, Ngugi wa Thing'o, Breyten Bretenbach, Nawal El Saadawi and Zoe Wicomb. See www.blackwellpublishing.com/book.asp?ref=9781405112000 for details.
The Study of Africa is a two-volume work which takes stock of the study of Africa in the 21st century: its status, research agenda and approaches, and place. Volume one covers the academic disciplines, African studies and interdisciplinary studies. Volume two addresses globalisation, African studies and regional contexts. According to Bethwell Ogot, Chancellor of Moi University and Professor Emeritus of History, the publication 'provides the most comprehensive and critical analysis of African studies in the world today. Globally the book reveals a fundamental, though depressing, fact that the terms of global intellectual exchange are unequal. There is therefore a need to construct an African "library", a body of knowledge that can fully encompass, engage and examine African phenomena. And it is the responsibility of African scholars, both in the continent and in diaspora, to spearhead this struggle for intellectual decolonization and deconstruction'. For details, see http://www.codesria.org/Links/Publications/new_publications.htm.
The launch is being sponsored by the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For further details, please contact the department through www.uic.edu/las/afam/aasthome.html or Paul Zeleza, email email@example.com.
Review of African blogs
Black Kush An uplifting short piece from the Sudan. Kush reports on a huge animal migration (to rival that of Serengeti) in Southern Sudan:
'Many people have thought that twenty years of war may have devastated the vast animal resource in South Sudan. But lo, and behold: they have survived! See the pictures for yourself.'
Looks like elephants, ostriches, and possibly wilder beasts running free on the plains.
JohnAkecSouthSudan comments on a recent statement by the new Sudanese ambassador to the US whose response to US sanctions was to threaten to block the export of 'gum arabic' used in the production of coca-cola...
'...asserted that there is no genocide in Darfur, and called Darfur’s armed groups 'terrorists'. He then issued a thin veiled threat that his country could retaliate by blocking the exports of Gum Arabic to the US. Gum Arabic, the Ambassador declared, is indispensable ingredient of Coca-Cola. Washington Post’s Dana Milbank coined the term "Khartoum Karl" to describe the ambassador.'
The surprise is not that Sudan should respond in this way but that the ambassador who is from the South should so easily and willingly parrot the words of the Khartoum regime.
Voice of Somaliland Diaspora-Ottawa writes on the new Scramble for African oil and the strategic preparations of the US which will become increasingly dependent on African oil.
'The Pentagon is to reorganise its military command structure in response to growing fears that the United States is seriously ill-equipped to fight the war against terrorism in Africa. It is a dramatic move, and an admission that the US must reshape its whole military policy if it is to maintain control of Africa for the duration of what Donald Rumsfeld has called "the long war". Suddenly the world's most neglected continent is assuming an increasing global importance as the international oil industry begins to exploit more and more of the west coast of Africa's abundant reserves.'
No Longer at Ease reports on Ethiopian brutality in the Ogaden region of Western Somalia. Abdulrahman also provides a brief background to the conflict which is one of those that receives little coverage in the press.
'In recent years Ethiopian troops increased their brutality of jailing, torturing and killing young Ogaden men suspected of being ONLF members. Their families have also been punished as well but worst of all is the rape of the rape of women by Ethiopian soldiers...In village after village, people said they had been brutalized by government troops. They described a widespread and longstanding reign of terror, with Ethiopian soldiers gang-raping women, burning down huts and killing civilians at will. It is the same military that the American government helps train and equip — and provides with prized intelligence.'
Ethiopundit comments an article by Christopher Hitchens on the fall of ex-head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz.
'He begins a customary flurry of blows to the heads and necks of assorted pundits (sadly, not all are as committed to truth and justice as we are) whose "eagerness for prurience, the readiness for slander, and the utter want of fact-checking" would have us believe that Paul Wolfowitz and Shaha Riza were financing some sort of "shameless lasciviousness out of the public purse and the begging bowls of the wretched of the earth.'
Hitchens states that it is hardly Riza's fault (no relation to THE RZA mind you) that she was working at a senior position at the World Bank when Wolfowitz, with whom she had a private adult consenting relationship, was appointed to head up the whole thing ALL THE WAY BACK in 2005. He told the Bank up front and the 'ethics committee' at the Bank decided she had to leave. The committtee suggested that any disruption to her career could be made up with a salary increase at her new job.
Filwehapundit on ceremonial coffee drinking in the Semein Mountains in Ethiopia (a World Heritage site and National Park) which apparently is being discouraged in some local area by priests.
'Sometimes this country is as much amazing to me as it is to a foreigner. The Church banning coffee is unheard of- so far as I know. I do not really know how it works in remote rural places. As far as I know and as it is written elsewhere in the report, coffee-drinking is a ceremonial culture of the society. I guess this should be a local thing.'
Black Looks Rethabile asks 'What race was Jesus? And Do we care?' He concludes no we shouldn’t – that is ALL of us shouldn’t care!
'Science and computer programs say Jesus probably looked more like the image at the top of this post, than a blue-eyed, blond-haired man. So why is the world flooded with images of the latter and very few of the former? You tell me...But I digress. I wanted to say that the deal for me is the fact that many use this ubiquitous image to fortify their personal beliefs about race: If even the Son of God is Caucasian… (please add the rest). As more and more “evidence” piles up about the probable appearance of Jesus, perhaps more than a few racists may look at other races differently, and perhaps with a little more respect…We shouldn’t really care what Jesus looked like; but now, all of us shouldn’t care. And nobody should use whatever physical image of Jesus is floating around in art galleries to further their beliefs about mankind.'
Charles Taylor trial
Charles TaylorStephen Rapp, chief prosecutor at the trial of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, speaks to Robtel Pailey from Pambazuka News after giving his opening statement in the Netherlands on 4 June 2007.
Taylor has been indicted on 11 counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged participation in the Sierra Leone civil war, which lasted from 1991 to 2002. However Taylor was absent from the courtroom causing a huge uproar.
Robtel Pailey reports from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, exploring the complexities of the case with Stephen Rapp. Also read Pailey's feature editorial ‘Even Former Warlords Deserve a Fair Trial’ in last week's issue of Pambazuka News.
Edited by Daniel Walter from CMFD in South Africa.
Music in this podcast is brought to you by Busi Ncube from Zimbabwe and kindly provided by Thulani Promotions.
Guinea Bissau: China helps pay public worker salaries
China has granted Guinea Bissau a donation of US$4 million, as part of a protocol for financial support signed Thursday in Bissau between the two countries. The funding is to help the Guinean government to overcome its budgetary difficulties, which have made it impossible to pay the salaries of public workers, with the protocol having been by the Guinean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maria da Conceição Nobre Cabral, and by China’s ambassador in Bissau, Yan Ban Ghua.
South Africa: Interview of Dr. Martyn Davies
Interview of Dr. Martyn Davies, director of the Centre for Chinese Studies, at the World Mining Investment Congress on the subject of China's increasing attempts to cut out the middleman and source metals directly from Africa.
China may try to bypass exchanges and source materials directly By Tom Stundza Purchasing June 14, 2007 China is roaming the world to source metals directly from Africa and elsewhere in order to cut out such middleman as the London Metal Exchange (LME), says Martyn Davies, director at the Centre of Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. China is trying to avoid key commodity markets while it creates markets for Chinese exports.
“The policy makers and powers in Beijing have an extreme dislike for the London Metal Exchange,” Davies tells the World Mining Investment Congress in London. “Why? It is a middleman and a consequence of the colonial economic construct and that is why the metal exchange sits here in London and not in Johannesburg,” according to Davies, who is also the CEO for the strategy consulting firm Emerging Market Focus. He says the Chinese prefer to acquire the asset source and negotiate long-term off-take agreements for 20 to 25 years with the governments of commodityproducing countries.
Davies says China would attempt to set up parallel markets and exchanges during the course of the next two to three decades. “Of course we will have the traditional markets with the mining majors and the like selling on this traditional market (the LME) but China will seek to change the rules of the game,” he tells the Reuters News Service.
This approach isn’t new. Last year, China attempted to become the keystone player in world iron ore pricing negotiations with Brazilian and Australian miners. The move flopped, however, because of longstanding use of steel mills in Europe as the pricing trendsetter for the Brazilians and the steel mills in Japan for the Australians.
When buying commodities—ranging from ores to scrap to semifinished mill products—“China’s problem is not a lack of capital, it is its inability to spend it productively,” says Davies. That’s because mainland China doesn’t yet have as refined an investment climate as North America and Western Europe.
2007-06-15 © 2007, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved
Sudan: China may send peacekeepers to Darfur
China's special envoy on Darfur said Thursday his country will seriously consider sending troops for a peacekeeping mission in the war-torn Sudanese region and insisted Beijing is doing its best to help solve the conflict. Liu Guijin lashed out at critics who accuse China of backing Sudan's government because of Chinese oil interests there.
Zambia: Chinese, Zambian defense ministers agree on military cooperation
Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan and his Zambian counterpart George Mpombo agreed Wednesday to further expand cooperation between the two countries' armed forces. In his talks with Mpombo, Cao said the people of China and Zambia enjoy a traditional friendship and support each other. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries have conducted fruitful cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other fields.
Africa: Yar'Adua pushed o support AUG/USA
President Umaru Yar'Adua and other African leaders have been called upon to devise strategic ways of establishing effective, meaningful and people-oriented African Union (AU) Government. Foreign policy experts made this call yesterday at a roundtabble discussion on AU Government organised by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), to review the socio-economic and political prospects of African integration in the face of deepening crisis of under-development.
President Umaru Yar'Adua and other African leaders have been called upon to devise strategic ways of establishing effective, meaningful and people-oriented African Union (AU) Government.
Foreign policy experts made this call yesterday at a roundtabble discussion on AU Government organised by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), to review the socio-economic and political prospects of African integration in the face of deepening crisis of under-development.
Present at the rountable were NIIA Director General, Professor Osita Chukwuemeka Eze, Head, Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, University of Lagos, Professor Akin Oyebode, Director of African Affairs, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mr Emmanuel Ogunnaike, President, Nigerian Political Science Association (NPSA), Professor Jinadu Adele and renowned peace expert, Professor Amadu Sessay among others. Eze, who also chaired the roundtable, said the constitution of continental government founded on the principles of fairness and justice, "will assist African countries to confront the challenges of globalisation."
He said African leaders should leave sentiment and racism behind them, accept continental authority external to their countries and agree on the focus areas expected to be addressed by the union government. "There is hardly any area that does not deserve serious attention. This issue is thus that of setting priorities and taking into account focus areas that provide pillars and have the potency to produce multiplier effects. Of the areas listed in the Constitutive Act of African Union, we consider governance and human rights, food, agriculture and water resources, peace and security, education, training, staff development, science and technology, health, environment, energy, infrastructure, trade and external relations as strategic and pivotal.
"There is a common interest in uniting to fight and protect from a hostile global environment and enhance the capacity of Africa to explore and exploit its human and natural resources in the 21st Century," Eze said.
According to him, the idea of a United States of Africa "is coming a bit late, " but it is better late than never.
Even then, there is need for the project to be executed with passion always, bearing in mind that whatever reforms of rules and institutions are carried out.
Africa: The economics of African federation
A report "Reflections on Africa's historic and current initiatives for political and economic unity" by the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER) in Ibadan attempted to analyse objectively the economic and socio political impact of African regional integration.
According to NISER: “The hopes for a New International Economic Order (NIEO) arising from various international socio-economic and political negotiations, particularly after world war II (1939-1945), became largely misplaced in the 1950s through the 1960s, inter alia, due to the lopsided socio-economic development pattern which accompanied such negotiations.
For example, the terms of trade worsened for the world’s primary products producers (mostly African countries), while it improved for the producers of manufactured goods (industrialised countries such as the United States of America and the European countries).
Against this background, the progress of such African primary producers, who incidentally adopted the ‘isolationist’ development approach to their respective national development programmes, as a whole, was (and is still) nowhere comparable to the progress made in the rest of the world; particularly in the industrial European countries - producers of manufactured goods.
The emerging undesirable trends of socio-economic and political developments at both the pre-and post-colonial periods in the countries of these African primary producers made it clear, especially within the first decade of these African countries independence that, the development gap between them and the industrialised countries would continuously widen over time in the absence of any determined effort, on their part, to reverse the dangerous development trend. In recognition of the weaknesses in the isolationist development approach to salvage these African countries from their deplorable development position, about the only realistic option open for adoption was to take appropriate concerted measures capable of strengthening these African countries individually and collectively in order to compete more effectively in the global economy (OAU, 1963).
This initiative came simultaneously with the emergence of well-integrated nations of regional sizes, notably, the United States of America (USA), the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and China.
Probably, the consequential disparity observed between the respective eco-political powers of these large nations and regional groupings and those of the un-integrated ones combined, reinforced the African inspiration into initiating the practical move towards regional and sub-regional economic integration.
Coincidentally, there were instant experiments of this new vogue (economic integration) in Europe and Latin America, prompted largely by the great concern over economic subordination and the consequent socio-political insecurity of their respective regions when faced with the realities of the world giants at their door steps, especially in the 1940s through the 1950s.
Given the positive impacts of regional/sub-regional groupings on the Latin American and European economies, ‘economic integration’ constitutes a vogue as a concrete economic target
for facilitating the attainment of the objectives of “collective self-reliance and self-sustenance” under an economic regional framework. Thus, in Africa, the lessons of experience from these experimentations could hardly have escaped the socio-economic and political elites at independence.
Against this background, regional and sub-regional groupings couched under cooperative approach to economic development, focussed on collective self-reliance, started springing up in Africa as well as the developing continents of the world.
In spite of the numerous regional/sub-regional groupings which sprang up amidst abundant development potentials (human and material resources), the pace and pattern of socio-economic and political development in the African region, particularly since the early 1980s, became susceptible to the conclusion that the direction of economic development cannot possibly guarantee rapid, effective and desirable economic transformation (Edozien and Osagie, 1982: 97-118).
This has culminated in what many analysts on African economic development define as: African countries declining GDP, high stagflation pressures, food crisis and heavy burden of external debts (Phillips, 1989).
In recognition of the foregoing development problems in Africa, the existing regional/subregional groupings have for about two decades of policy reforms in the region, initiated the move to redress the indicators of economic decline. This has therefore created an inspiration for renewed interest in regional integration as a strategy for dealing with the deep-rooted structural problems in the African region.
Based on the “Washington Consensus” of trade liberalisation, stable macroeconomic policy, getting prices right, and minimal government interference within the globalising world, more emphasis tend to be place on the opening up of African economies to international competition to return African countries to a path of sustainable growth.
Incidentally, economic growth mostly in the 1990s weakened due to such exogenous developments as drought and floods in various parts of the continent, declining aid and weakening commodity prices. In this regard, current growth rates in African countries are not enough to arrest Africa’s long-standing economic decline or have much effect on widespread poverty (UNCTAD, 1998).
With marginal results of integrative arrangements in Africa, thus far, the “Washington Consensus” acknowledges that:
(1) policy must reflect the fact that with economic liberalisation, markets may not emerge on their own, and may be sub-optimal if they do;
(2) policy must recognise and address directly structural constraints and institutional limitations if incentives are to be translated into a vigorous supply response through new investment for the expansion and rationalisation of production;
(3) in addition to the traditional challenges, governments now must cope with unprecedented acceleration of technological change and the consequences of globalisation as the new global economy does not benefit all countries equally.
On the basis of the foregoing acknowledgment has been the renewed interest in regional economic integration in Africa as a means of overcoming the constraints in individual countries related to their small size, market limitations and other structural problems.
The NISER report recognizes the changing political and social landscape in Africa. In the 1990s many African countries successfully pursued political and social reforms that resulted in a much transformed political and social landscape. Entrenched democratic and personal freedoms and a socially conscious pursuit of transparency. Most of these initiatives were homegrown mass movements. A new wave of liberation.
NISER reports that: In actual fact, the notion of good governance has assumed a central position in the discussions of Africa’s democratisation process.
Although, corruption and nepotism have played a destructive role in many of the African societies in the past, these issues are currently being attended to by many of the African Governments.
Moreover, policy stability and harmonisation that can lead to rapid development are now being taken into consideration.
In short many African societies have now realised that apart from economic gains from democratisation alongside liberalisation and globalisation, there are increasing political gains that can be achieved toward regional integration in terms of political stability of member states.
Also, regional integration has been seen by many Independent African States as impetus to possible solution to the continent’s deep and prolonged economic and social crisis.
Anaysis of preconditions
The NISER report analyses the prevailing conditions in Africa which may be beneficial to the integration efforst that African countries are currently pursuing.
Major among such preconditions are that:
1. The union must be made up of countries of equal socio-economic importance/status to avoid the fear of possible dominance - in religion, wealth, endowment, size, population etc.
2. The size of each of the members of the union must not be so large as to permit any one of them independently to contemplate an essentially national policy of industrialization as an alternative to regional coordination.
A critical examination of these preconditions shows that they are indeed appropriate and desirable for the African region often defined as a region aspiring for collective socio-economic development in diversity-social, cultural, physical and religious matters.
Recently, regional unity is seen in Africa as a possible solution to the continent’s deep and prolonged economic and social crisis. Also, it is seen as a means of breaking the confines of the nation-state as well as removing the multiple socio-economic barriers and thus, opening the African economies to external competition through trade and exchange competition.
A new Africa is beginning to take shape. Many of the Independent African States have been democratised. Also, a number of them have liberalised their economies. In addition, regional integration as well as globalisation are becoming fast recognised and accepted in many African countries. In actual fact, African societies are becoming more open due to the positive effects of democratisation, economic reforms and globalisation.
Given the fact that the long run prospects for rapid development of African nations lie in their success in achieving political and economic unity among and between themselves, the important question is how African countries can successfully achieve regional unity?
That is, what are the challenges facing the African societies in their attempt at regional integration?
The first assignment for the African nations is to sustain the current impacts of democracy. That is, democratisation - cum- liberalisation on the internal front in terms of continued struggle for individual democratic freedoms and rights should be vigorously pursued.
In addition to this, African nations should form themselves into a single regional trade and exchange co-operation to deal with other multilateral trading blocks such as EU, WTO, etc., rather than the current polarised regional organisations.
In actual fact, forming themselves into a single trading block will enable them not only to speak with one voice but also make them to negotiate with other multilateral trading blocks with unified terms of reference.
Moreover, problems of financing several (polarised) regional trade and economic cooperative groupings such as SADC, COMESA, SACU, EAC, IOC, ECOWAS, WAEMU, UEMOA, IGAD CEAO, etc., will be solved through the formation of a single regional trade and economic cooperation.
Further, forming themselves into one regional block will further reduce armed conflicts in several African countries.
In conclusion, regional integration will be the focus of the world economy for a long time to come. Against this background, Africa’s future initiatives should be developed to further consolidate the gains that have been achieved.
* Kisira Kokelo is a Pan-Africanist blogger from Kenya who is currently residing in the British Virgin Islands. His blog, African Federation Now, http://africanfederationnow.blogspot.com features postings on Pan-Africanism and Continental Unity.
Social integration as a means
Eyob Balch writes as a young and concerned African who aspires to see the realisation of the dreams of our forefathers. This can also be considered as one of the many suggestions and recommendations that will be forwarded to the AU Commission on its timely engagement of establishing the African Union government.
I am writing this article only as a young and concerned African who aspires to see the realisation of the dreams of our forefathers. This can also be considered as one of the many suggestions and recommendations that will, certainly be forwarded for the AU Commission on its timely engagement of establishing the African Union government.
For the last four and more years, I have been engaged with different activities that have increased my understanding about the current situation of our continent, and the paths that it is embarking on towards its future. I’ve read different books and articles, discussed with different people around me and attended various panels, lectures, conferences and forums both at home and abroad as well as with high level dignitaries/diplomats and with other ordinary African citizens. All the times, I was eager to know the ideas and feelings of these people about the issues of Pan-Africanism and the unity of our continent.
Truly speaking, I myself have gone through different levels of understanding about this particular issue and what I am thinking of at this very moment is very much different from what it has been a couple or more years before. Needless to say, peoples’ perception is also on process of change either to the pessimistic or to the optimistic corner, even to no where. But their might be some basic grounds where we should have, or better to have, common consensus about the process of building the United States of Africa (USA).
I am a youth activist and a sociologist by profession and above all a Pan-Africanist by spirit. And all what I’ll be talking about will be the results of these and other multiple identities that I acquire. I’ve personally and organizationally involved in organizing a public debate on May 25, 2007; marking the African Liberation Day in Addis Ababa. I’ve come across different views and ideas of many Africans on due process with their hopes, fears, concerns and even jokes. But my basic concern is beyond all these. Through the related readings with regard to the topic, I’ve come to know that there are two basic arguments on the establishment of the African Union Government or the USA.
The first bloc, alternative A, insists on the immediate union of African states with one government citizenship, a common foreign minister, a common defense force and a leader or a president of the would be government. And the other, alternative B, is a proposition based on gradual and time proven process of integration through the regional economic communities (RECs) like the COMESA, ECOWAS and SADEC towards the higher level of the union. Moreover, another alternative, more likely alternative C, is cognisant of the fact that gradual transformation is more acceptable but argues that the establishment of the union should be through the existing system of the AU because it has ‘enough’ Acts and procedures to do so.
According to Dr. Tajudeen Abdul- Raheem, General Secretary of the Global Pan African Movement, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is leading the first bloc through his project of the USA since 1999. Whereas the second bloc has no recognized leaders but government officials (ministers and ambassadors) of different nations are working on it. Our PM, Meles Zenawi and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa are proponents of the third alternative. In spite of all the fact that I’ve read and heard about this issue, I haven’t had any information about the ideas of ordinary African on this issue. I remember that, when the then OAU was transforming into the AU, the leaders were telling us that from that very moment the level of interaction and engagement which was restricted at heads of states and government officials’ level will be trickled down to people-to-people level. But what I am witnessing at this very moment is that, it is still our political leaders who are deciding on our lives without going through the rational process. As far as I’m concerned, our leaders are once again too busy of establishing another bureaucratic and cumbersome political system which wouldn’t belong to the real African people. They are still doing their best to take forward their corrupted and mismanaged economic system which is full of imperfect markets and inter-competition; and their political system whose basic character is understood in terms of lack of good governance and democracy, breach of human rights and being considered as ‘indigenous colonizer’. What would we come up with finally when these incompetent and imperfect states become united, ‘United Weak States of Africa (UWSA)’!? May be the UWSA will help us to differentiate the other USA from ours.
Finally I want to make two basic suggestions on the entire process. The basic thing is a rights issue. We African citizens have the right to be involved, consulted and be aware of each and every decision to be made on our fate. What would a Cameroonian, a Zambian or an Ethiopian, for that matter, would feel when s/he is told on one blessed morning that he/she is no more a citizen of Cameroon, Zambia or Ethiopia but Africa? We, African people, have the right to get meaningfully involved on every process that concerns us and we should claim our right in every appropriate manner and through all the legitimate channels.
Besides this, I personally argue that neither political nor economic integration is the sole means for the realisation of the union government. I would say, social integration is the most appropriate tool in our context. One may argue that both political and economic integrations are part of the social integration.
But I would once again argue that I’m afraid that they are considered in such a way since there are many non-political (I mean non-state politics) and non-economic activities that have created a greater bond among African people beyond any other means. Like for example, the civic and non-governmental associations and organizations, the trade unions, youth associations, women’s’ associations, the academic institutions (think tanks), traditional and religious institutions and the like should be given a much more emphasis and meaningful role to play in the process. It is in these groups and institutions that we can find real Africans at the grass root level. Just to mention, according to the African Youth Charter, young people are defined with in the age limit of 15 to 35, which is believed to constitute nearly half of the entire population of the continent. And it is this segment of the society on which all the social, economic, political and whatsoever kinds of positive and negative realities of the continent are manifested.
Therefore, on what kind of rational ground that we would accept the decisions of our political leaders to establish the continental government; without incorporating these peoples’ idea. We should first enjoy the real brotherhood and sisterhood in our respective areas, through our cultures, arts and societal values among ourselves in the spirit of being African, which will be a cornerstone for the realization of our dream. It is people-to-people interaction and integration that should be given the greater value in this process, more than the periodic conferencing of the political leaders.
Let me be, humbly, sure that the process of establishing the union government is for the mere benefit of each and every citizen of the continent. Then, why do our leaders fail to materialise the basic feature of ‘democratic governance’, i.e. participation. The AU will be having its heads of states meeting coming July in Accra, Ghana where they will be discussing about one and only one agenda – the African Union Government/ the United States of Africa. But the significant part of this continent’s citizen are not aware of the process let alone forwarding ideas and failed to be heard.
Finally this is the concern of one young African that, our leaders should have a moment to set-back and to revisit their steps and we Africans should demand our rights to decide on our fate by ourselves, of course legitimately, for the realisation of our dream.
* Eyob Balcha, a youth activist in Ethiopia, is currently a graduate student of sociology at the Addis Ababa University. His is also the founding member of Afroflag Youth Vision (AYV), a local civic youth organisation and the programme manager of the organisation.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Morocco: Women's rights wear royal robes
The word on the streets of Casablanca, the bustling, commercial capital of Morocco, is out: The emperor has new clothes. He also has a new baby girl, and the Moroccan press made a splash about it. Weeks after the birth of King Mohammed VI's daughter, Princess Khadija, on Feb. 28, Morocco's two leading women's magazines offered an "exclusive" visual paean to her little, royal highness.
Sierra Leone: Gender violence outlawed
Sierra Leonean women can now rest, and enjoy the fruits of their long walk to freedom. The country's parliament took the bull by the horns to enact a law that outlaws domestic violence in all its forms as well as guarantees the rights of women to inheritance and registration of customary marriages.
Malawi: Judges and lawyers bring relief to condemned
Malawi's death row prisoners are breathing more easily after three High Court judges unanimously agreed in a test case that the courts are not bound to sentence anyone to death for murder, as this would be a violation of that person's human rights. "The mandatory death penalty violates an individual's right that protects one from inhuman treatment or punishment and denies them the right to fair trial and have the sentence reviewed by a higher tribunal," said Justice Elton Singini, reading out the joint judgment on Apr. 27.
Sierra Leone: Guilty verdicts in the trial of the AFRC accused
Three former leaders of Sierra Leone’s former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) have each been found guilty on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The judgments were read out in court by Justice Julia Sebutinde, the Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II, in proceedings which lasted just over two hours.
Three former leaders of Sierra Leone’s former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) have each been found guilty on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Today’s judgments were read out in court by Justice Julia Sebutinde, the Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber II, in proceedings which lasted just over two hours.
Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu were each found guilty on Count 1 (acts of terrorism), Count 2 (collective punishments), Count 3 (extermination), Count 4 (murder, a crime against humanity), Count 5 (murder, a war crime), Count 6 (rape), Count 9 (outrages upon personal dignity), Count 10 (physical violence, a war crimes), Count 12 (conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities), Count 13 (enslavement), and Count 14 (pillage).
Not guilty judgements were entered on Count 11 (other inhumane acts – a crime against humanity), Count 7 (sexual slavery and any other form of sexual violence) and Count 8 (other inhumane act – forced marriage).
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for July 16.
Today’s judgment is the first to be handed down at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. A judgment in the case of two accused former members of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) are pending before Trial Chamber I.
This trial marks the first time that an international tribunal has ruled on the charge of recruitment of child soldiers into an armed force, and on the crime of forced marriage in an armed conflict.
Trial Chamber II, consisting of Justice Julia Sebutinde, Justice Teresa Doherty and Justice Richard Lussick, is also hearing evidence in the Special Court’s trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor at The Hague.
Sierra Leone: Military commanders convicted
Sierra Leone's special war tribunal, which is backed by the United Nations, has found three former military leaders guilty on 11 counts of war crimes during the 1991-2002 civil war. The verdicts on Wednesday were the first delivered by the Sierra Leone court in prosecutions arising from the conflict.
Togo: Anti-trafficking law enforced
Civil society organisations in Togo have welcomed the sentences handed down to five child traffickers last week. The trials marked the first application of a law adopted in August 2005 against the trafficking of children.
Chad: Toys donated to refugee children
The French Defence Ministry is helping UNHCR and a new museum of primitive art in Paris to deliver hundreds of toys to young Sudanese and Central African Republic refugees in Chad. A small party of officers and men from the army and air force arrived at Quai Branly Museum near the Eiffel Tower on Thursday and helped staff of the UN refugee agency and the museum to load 35 boxloads of toys onto two trucks for transportation to a military airport in Orleans.
Global: World Refugee Day
June 20 is World Refugee Day, a day when the UN refugee agency tries to focus worldwide attention on the plight of millions of refugees and displaced people around the world. To mark the day, High Commissioner António Guterres is visiting South Sudan to witness the rapid changes in the nature of the refugee challenge in Africa.
Mauritania: Refugees allowed to return home
The UN refugee agency on Friday welcomed the Mauritanian government's decision to allow some 20,000 refugees to return home from neighbouring Mali and Senegal, where some of them have spent almost two decades in exile. The Mauritanian decision coincided with this year's World Refugee Day, which fell on Wednesday this week.
Senegal: Spain, Senegal say winning war on illegal migrants
Spain and Senegal said on Friday they were winning the fight against illegal migration as the European nation promised to invest in the West African state and create more legal job opportunities for Senegalese workers. The Spanish interior and labour ministers, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and Jesus Caldera, announced during a visit to Dakar that several hundred legal jobs in Spain would be opened up this year for workers from Senegal, to encourage lawful migration.
Tanzania: Government vows to send all Burundian refugees home
With the return of peace and stability in Burundi, the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, sees no reason why thousands of Burundian refugees should remain in his country. President Kikwete, who flew to the Burundian capital Bujumbura, disclosed that all Burundian refugee camps will be closed by December 2007.
Nigeria: Nigerian workers on the march again: General strike commences
In less than a month since the massively fraudulent election that ushered in the present administration, the Nigerian working class is in a determined mood and on the offensive against it. This comes as somewhat of a surprise to some on the left and seems almost miraculous to those sectarians who had earlier condemned the Nigerian workers as reactionary, simply because the Labour leadership refused to mobilize the rank and file behind one wing of the ruling class in opposition to the fraudulent election.
Nigeria: Strike bites in cities
Nigeria's main cities are reported to be very quiet on the first day of a general strike called by trade unions. Office blocks are empty in central Lagos, with long queues at petrol stations. Schools and offices are shut in the northern city of Kano.
Nigeria: Strike: No deal between N-Delta, Labour
Prince Collins Eselemo, the national president of the Warri National Congress (WNC), a non-governmental organization and grand patron of the Ijaw Youths Congress (IYC) in the Niger Delta, is not new to controversy. Some two years ago, he led a protest against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over a strike action by the then leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on the grounds that it was of no benefit to the people of the Niger-Delta.
Prince Collins Eselemo, the national president of the Warri National Congress (WNC), a non-governmental organization and grand patron of the Ijaw Youths Congress (IYC) in the Niger Delta, is not new to controversy. Some two years ago, he led a protest against the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over a strike action by the then leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on the grounds that it was of no benefit to the people of the Niger-Delta. Today, he is up in arms again against the NLC, now led by Comrade Omar, insisting again that the planned strike action over the increase in the price of petrol and Value Added Tax, VAT, would not benefit the Niger-Delta people. Excerpts:
HOW would you react to the intended strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)
to force government to reverse the increase in VAT from five per cent to 10 per cent, increase salary of workers by 15% and reverse the sale of refineries and other national assets?
It has been conventional for the NLC to embark on strike for their selfish benefit. As the president of Warri National Congress (WNC), we consider the NLC as a deceitful entity. The NLC is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that is seriously begging for recognition. This is not the first time the WNC has gone against their strike for the fundamental reason that the undertaking of the Niger-Delta people was and is not a reason for their strike action, so there can be no deal between the Niger-Delta and the NLC. We have discovered that they don’t fly straight.
The issues of the VAT and the sale of refineries are beyond their concern. The members of the NLC are predominantly stakeholders in the oil industry. But the oil is found in our soil in the Niger Delta. So, I can’t see how others should cry more than we the bereaved. In essence, if they don’t take our problems, our ecological life that has been killed by their nefarious activities, into consideration for strike in this country, we are not going to support them.
In fact, we are going to lead protest against their protest. We are waiting for them to act as they said on the 18th of June. Before then we would be ready to make a counter-move to tell the whole world that the Niger Delta problem is fundamental and should be a priority and basis for strike. If the NLC or any other body for that matter is not ready to join the government to make sure that the Niger Delta area is developed, to redress the problem of neglect for the past 40 years, we are not ready to be part of that strike. Niger Delta should not be a political bait for any NGO to take advantage of for strike action that would cripple the economy of this nation.
The mind set of the Yar’Adua /Jonathan government is to give attention to the Niger Delta problem. The increase in VAT is not a Niger Delta problem, the increase in fuel price is not a Niger Delta problem. The Niger Delta problem is known and we have attracted the sympathy of the international community and we expect the NLC to direct their wisdom, strength, force and cohesiveness to support the Federal Government (FG) to find a solution to the development of this region. Luckily, there is already a master plan to be executed to take care of the security problem in the Niger Delta. The issue of fuel price increase is no news.
Are you suggesting that it is only when the fundamental issues agitating the Niger Delta form the basis that you would support NLC strike?
The NLC strike is not fundamental and legitimate. They can derive some legitimacy only when they consider the problems of the Niger Delta and work in partnership with the Federal Government to see that the development and security problem of the region is solved. The NLC strike is not a fundamental reason or issue or solution to equal distribution of wealth in this country.
We don’t need it! I’ve said that they should direct the strength, with which they intend to cripple the economy, in helping the Federal Government, which appears determined to develop the Niger Delta. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they must go on strike. In other words, they can say, “we’re going to embark on strike if the Federal Government does not develop the Niger Delta”.
I’m afraid you are missing the point. The NLC is said to be protesting a scenario that has increased the poverty of the Nigerian people. What is wrong about the NLC championing a cause that will reduce the burden the VAT and fuel price hike has brought on the poor?
That is the perception and impression that the NLC is trying to create and it is deceitful. The NLC is not a legal entity to agitate for us. We know we are poor but we don’t need the NLC to champion our cause. What is poverty and what is development? Infrastructural development will alleviate poverty in the Niger Delta region and the struggle towards that is not the exclusive preserve of the NLC. It is the combined effort of the international community in support of the Federal Government to make sure there is infrastructural development in the region.
This has nothing to do with the NLC. The NLC did not solicit for the 13% derivation fund, the NLC did not agitate that the minimum of 13% derivation now be entrenched in the constitution; it was as a result of the agitation of the Niger Delta people.
South Africa: Civil Society organisations influence the state
How has South Africa’s Civil Society fared? This paper by the Cetnre for Policy Studies examines how specific civil society organisations (CSOs) have influenced state, and what lies behind the success or failure of these actions. It focuses on CSOs engaged in influencing post-apartheid policies.
South Africa: Sackings fuel national strike, protests
Up to 2 million workers have hit back at the African National Congress(ANC) government's sacking of striking health workers, its deployment of army strikebreakers and increasing police violence against strikers. On June 13 the more than 700,000 teachers, nurses, health workers and other government workers on strike for higher pay were joined by hundreds of thousands of other unionists and supporters in a nationwide solidarity strike. Hundreds of thousands of people marched across the country.
Up to 2 million workers have hit back at the African National Congress (ANC) government's sacking of striking health workers, its deployment of army strikebreakers and increasing police violence against strikers. On June 13 the more than 700,000 teachers, nurses, health workers and other government workers on strike for higher pay were joined by hundreds of thousands of other unionists and supporters in a nationwide solidarity strike. Hundreds of thousands of people marched across the country.
The public-sector affiliates of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), together with members of other union federations, walked out on June 1 for a pay increase of 12%, better housing and medical allowances, and an increase of the minimum annual pay of a public servant from R36,000 to R46,200 (A$5960 to $7650). Public servants' pay, especially the lowest paid, has fallen behind increases in food prices and housing costs for a decade. However, the government insists that any pay increase must be linked to its conservative inflation index (which excludes housing mortgage payments and downplays food prices).
On the eve of the June 13 sympathy strike, public service and administration minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi relented slightly and raised the government's pay offer from a below-inflation 6.5% to 7.25%.
The offer was immediately rejected by the unions. On June 8 the unions decided to revise their pay demand downwards to 10%.
The solidarity strike brought defiant workers into the streets of at least 43 major cities and towns. More than 25,000 marched through Johannesburg and 20,000 marched in Pretoria. In KwaZulu-Natal province, Durban and Pietermaritzburg were brought to a standstill by large demonstrations. In Cape Town, as more than 25,000 workers gathered, the right-wing Democratic Alliance-controlled city council's police attempted to prevent a march from taking place.
Across the country, the militant South African Municipal Workers Union and other unions took strike action and joined the marches. Bus and train workers joined the strike in most centres, as did kombi-bus taxi drivers. Due to laws that severely restrict "secondary strikes", the powerful mineworkers' and the metalworkers' unions did not join the strike but did participate in the marches.
Workers' anger has been stoked by mounting state repression. Picketers have come under repeated attack by police using water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and batons. The ANC national government provocatively mobilised large numbers of armed soldiers on June 13. In a revealing statement, spokesperson Colonel Sydney Zeeman told the June 13 Cape Town Argus that the army had "deployed units nationwide in our traditional role of providing support for the police. It is a very big deployment." Zeeman could only be referring the "tradition" established under the hated Apartheid regime!
The government secured court orders to widen the legal definition of "essential workers" so as to deny around 300,000 of the country's more than 1 million public servants the right to strike. Many nurses, doctors and health workers have defied the orders.
On June 9, Fraser-Moleketi and health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang sacked 638 health workers who had not returned to work. Fraser-Moleketi claimed that the sackings are "in the interests of the patients and the country".
COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi in response vowed, "We will not settle the strike until all threats have been withdrawn and every person who went on strike goes back to a workplace". Thulas Nxesi, general secretary of the 220,000-strong South African Democratic Teachers Union, told workers at the June 13 Johannesburg rally, "Any injury to one is an injury to all. Dismiss one, dismiss all!"
The government has mobilised army medics as strikebreakers in hospitals.
Soldiers are also doing the work of non-medical hospital staff, including porters, cleaners and cooks. Thousands more, decked out in bullet-proof vests and armed with automatic weapons, are stationed at pickets lines outside hospitals and schools.
On June 13, the South African Communist Party (SACP) publicly condemned "state-led violence directed at workers" who have demonstrated peacefully during the strike. "These actions are provocative in the extreme and are aimed at demoralising workers through intimidation . We also call upon all senior government leaders to condemn all acts of violence and intimidation from whichever quarter it emerges, including the police. We must desist from one-sided, anti-worker and selective condemnation of violence, whilst turning a blind eye to state-initiated violence against striking workers .
"The actions of government have thus far showed little commitment on its part, and instead have resorted to tactics that are tantamount to union and worker bashing, and sowing divisions within the ranks of the workers through termination of employment and appropriation of the media to smash and bash unions . Whilst we all do not like to see the disruption of public services, the SACP will always be on the side of the workers on their demand for decent living wage."
COSATU president Willie Madisha, also an SACP central committee member, told the Pretoria rally that government ministers had forgotten where they had come from and should resign. Zwelinzima Vavi, also an SACP leader, has made similar calls.
These sharp rebukes highlight not only the growing political tensions that exist between the neoliberal, pro-rich ANC regime and its "allies", the 1.8-million member COSATU and the 50,000-strong SACP, but also within the SACP leadership. Several prominent SACP members are also cabinet ministers in the ANC government and are leading the attacks on striking workers.
The minister for safety and security, responsible for directing the actions of the police, is Charles Nqakula, the SACP's national chairperson. Nqakula shamelessly declared on June 12 that he was "going to continue to deploy members of the South African Police Service, who will be assisted by units of the South African National Defence Force .
to deal with protection of all workers who want to go to work".
Nqakula sits on the government committee, with Fraser-Moleketi, that is overseeing the "negotiations" with the striking unions. On June 8, Nqakula, Fraser-Moleketi, defence minister Mosiuoa "Terror" Lekota and national police commissioner Jackie Selebi were jeered by striking workers as they visited the Kalafong hospital near Pretoria, escorted by armed police and soldiers. The ministers were there to visit army scabs inside the hospital.
Ronnie Kasrils, another SACP central committee member, is in charge of the country's spy agency, which is unlikely to be sitting on its hands during the dispute. Transport minister Jeff Radebe and local government minister Sydney Mufamadi are maintaining cabinet solidarity despite their SACP membership.
There is also a widespread perception that Fraser-Moleketi remains a member of the SACP. This has been reported by some sections of the South African press, and many SACP and COSATU members believe she is a member or are unsure. Socialist newspapers around the world have also repeated the assertion that she remains in the SACP. SACP spokesperson Masela Maleka told Green Left Weekly this was not the case. Fraser-Moleketi left the party sometime after 2002, when she was not re-elected as the party's national deputy chairperson, he said. Oddly, however, the SACP seems reluctant to publicly clarify Fraser-Moleketi's membership status.
The antics of the SACP's "comrade ministers" will make it harder for those in the SACP leadership who are resisting demands for a reassessment of the Tripartite Alliance between the ANC, COSATU and the SACP. In May, the SACP's influential Gauteng provincial congress overwhelmingly voted for the party to run its own candidates in elections from 2009, and that SACP members who are ANC ministers abide by the policies of the SACP or resign from their positions. The resolution will be discussed by the SACP's 12th national congress in July.
Meanwhile, the public sector strike is likely to escalate further.
Unionised police and soldiers, members of the COSATU-affiliated Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union and the South African Security Forces Union, have threatened to join the strike, despite being legally defined as "essential workers" and outlawed from striking. Wage disputes in the mining and manufacturing industries, and among local government workers, are also on the horizon.
Burundi: Grappling with a looming political crisis
Burundi’s future appeared rosy as international donors pledged US$665.6 million in May for a three-year poverty reduction plan, but a brewing political crisis could upset everything, say observers. The crisis, both within the ruling party and outside it, began early in 2007 when Hussein Radjabu, chairman of the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party, was sidelined.
Congo: Ruling party expected to win legislative elections
President Denis Sassou Nguesso's ruling party is expected to be the big winner of legislative elections on Sunday in the African republic of Congo, where opposition complaints have had little impact. Sassou Nguesso, a former Marxist army officer, has been back in controversy this week after French prosecutors started investigating allegations that he used embezzled state funds to buy luxury Paris apartments.
Côte d’Ivoire: UN to stay and support elections
Concerns that Ivorian leaders might block the UN from helping to organise and supervise long-delayed elections were allayed on 19 June following a meeting between with a UN Security Council delegation and the country’s president and former rebel leader-turned-prime minister
Somalia: Government grants amnesty to rebels
In its bid to bring peace in the country, Somalia’s transitional government deemed it fitting to grant amnesty to its opposition fighters, the government announced.
For several months, the Somali government has been involved in sporadic gun battles with opposition fighters, resulting to several deaths. The core of the opposition fighters hailed from the Hawiye clan.
Africa: Presidents Bongo, Nguesso face Paris investigations
Following complaints lodged by right groups, French authorities have instituted a preliminary inquiry against Presidents of Gabon and Congo Brazzavile who are accused of embezzling their public funds to acquire properties in France. Presidents Omar Bongo and Denis Sassou Nguesso have been scolded by rights group for illegally siphoning millions of the tax payers’ money to buy magnificent edifice in France.
Kenya: Massive theft at police airwing
Something is brewing at the Kenya Police Airwing and it ’s not smelling too good. Documents have come to light regarding the award of a US$12.8 million (Ksh 840 million) contract to overhaul 4 Russian built helicopters operated by the Kenya Police Airwing.
Liberia: UN to investigate Taylor’s “hidden wealth”
The United Nations Security Council has agreed to set up a three-member panel of experts to probe into the “hidden wealth” of the former rebel-turned President of Liberia, Charles Taylor. Experts will try to uncover Mr Taylor’s wealth he had acquired from illegal blood diamond and timber trade in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Africa: Africa must create its own biotechnology agenda
Building public support for genetically modified crops in sub-Saharan Africa means developing a homegrown solution to the region's own needs. Last week representatives from African countries gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, for Agricultural Science Week.
Africa: Libya to supply Kenya with cheaper oil
Kenya is set to receive oil from Libya at preferential rates according to a bilateral agreement signed earlier this month between the leaders of the two countries. Insiders in the oil industry say this makes it likely that Kenya will award the contract for the establishment of a petroleum facility of 45 million US dollars and a truck and rail loading project worth 22 million US dollars to a Libyan-connected investor.
Africa: Undermining poverty reduction and growth in Africa
Africa is vulnerable to numerous risks and shocks, including drought, natural disasters, conflict and political instability, and high levels of child and adult mortality and morbidity. This paper by ESRC Global Poverty Research Group reviews micro-level evidence on risk and its implications for growth and poverty in Africa.
Global: International Funding: how can we do better?
The world is facing urgent and complex problems which are global in their nature and thus beyond the capability of national governments to solve alone. How can foundations contribute to solving these problems? This article by Peter Laugharn, appearing in the June issue of Alliance magazine looks at the current state of international funding and makes a number of proposals aimed at helping foundations make a more significant contribution.
Africa: Africa health strategy 2007-2015
This Africa Union strategy paper sets out the objectives and strategic approaches of the African Union ministers of health in order to improve the health of its people and ensure access to essential health care for all Africans, especially the poorest and most marginalised by 2015. It provides an overarching framework to enable coherence within and between countries, civil society and the international community.
Global: WHO to monitor ARV side-effects worldwide
World Health Organization (WHO) is establishing an HIV pharmacovigilance programme in order to map more accurately the incidence of side effects caused by antiretroviral drugs, and to determine whether there are differences in the incidence of particular side effects between countries, Professor Charles Gilks of WHO said on Saturday at the 2007 HIV Implementers’ meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
Kenya: ARV therapy results bringing dilemmas for private sector
Productivity among workers in the private sector who receive antiretroviral therapy through employee health schemes may not always return to pre-illness levels, according to findings from Kenya. Jonathan Simon of Boston University told the HIV Implementers’ Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, that companies may have to look at earlier initiation of treatment if they want to see workers return to full productivity.
South Africa: Million more AIDS deaths forecast by 2010
Even the fastest rate of treatment scale up in South Africa will be unable to prevent around one million AIDS deaths between now and 2010, according to projections from Massachusetts General Hospital presented on Saturday at the HIV Implenters’ Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
Uganda: Gay organisation breaks the ice on homosexuality
While Ugandan religious leaders and government are up in arms in the fight against homosexuality in the country, more gay organisations are emerging who aim to “protect and promote homosexuality”. Established in 2004, Ice Breakers Uganda has recently surfaced with an undertaking to raise awareness about all gay people and their rights in the country, to stand up in defense of those rights and to create massive health awareness to gay people in risky sexual behaviors.
Zimbabwe: Galz opens new centre in bulawayo
Despite Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s incessant homophobic public comments, Gays and lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) is spreading its wings. The organisation which pushes for social tolerance of sexual minorities and the repeal of homophobic legislation in Zimbabwe, has recently established a new centre for its Bulawayo members.
Côte d’Ivoire: Payout for waste victims
In a report carried by Al Jazeera, Ivory Coast is to distribute millions of dollars in compensation to thousands of people exposed to toxic waste dumped in its economic capital, Abidjan, last year, the presidency says. The handouts scheduled for next week and announced on Friday, come months after the government received the compensation funds
Ethiopia: Desert Voices
Through personal stories, songs and their memories, these Ethiopian narrators talk about the sharp contrast between the past and present. Their key concerns are conflict, deforestation, the decline of pastoralism, and the impact of agriculture.
Sudan: Desert Voices
These Panos testimonies from Sudan leave you in no doubt of the devastation brought by desertification. The loss of their animals and dramatic decline in crops has left whole villages dependant on migrant labour.
Sudan: Peace tied to environment
A UN report says Sudan is unlikely to achieve lasting peace unless it addresses the problem of growing damage to its environment. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report said on Friday that Sudan's main cause of unrest has been the scarcity of resources and other phenomena such as desertification and deforestation that are likely to worsen.
Togo: Trees disappear
In the southern Togolese village of Yoto Kopé, Akoua Amouzouvi and several other women emerge from the bush with bowls of charcoal balanced on their heads -- hands and faces smeared with black dust. They have been burning trees to make charcoal for sale. "It's our daily activity," says Amouzouvi.
Egypt: Court refuses judge's request to block websites
There have been promising developments in the case against judge Abdel Fatah Murad, who has filed multiple fabricated charges against the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and HRinfo, as well as bloggers and human rights and news websites, report the law center and HRinfo.
Liberia: Two journalists beaten by police and UN peacekeepers
Reporters Without Borders condemns the use of violence by members of the national police and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) against several journalists, including Daylue Goah of the privately-owned daily "New Democrat" and Evans Ballah of "Public Agenda", during a student demonstration on 19 June 2007. Goah was seriously injured.
Mali: Journalists detained for article on fictional presidential sex scandal
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the court in Mali's capital city of Bamako to immediately release from jail and drop charges against four editors, a journalist and a teacher for "offence against the head of state" after the publication of an article about a school assignment on a sex scandal involving a fictional president.
Mali: WAJA chief assaulted
Malian security demonstrated their true unfriendly media colours when they pounced on a group of journalists protesting against the imprisonment of their colleagues in the capital Bamako. The riot police mercilessly assaulted the President of the Malian and West African Journalists’ Associations, Ibrahim Famakan Coulibaly.
West Africa: MFWA sues government at ECOWAS Court over "disappeared" journalist
The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria has issued a hearing notice for a suit filed against the Republic of Gambia by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on behalf of a "disappeared" Gambian journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, reporter of pro-government Banjul-based "Daily Observer" newspaper.
Zimbabwe: Battle continues for media independence
Zimbabwean media practitioners have launched a self-regulatory media body for journalists despite government threats of unspecified action against them. The non-governmental Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) launched the Media Council of Zimbabwe (MCZ) earlier this month. If MCZ members have their way, the ruling Zanu-PF will cease its stranglehold on the operations of the country's media and task this autonomous body to regulate and monitor the media independently in Zimbabwe.
Global: Influx of Africans finds mixed fortunes in US
They range from surgeons and scholars to illiterate refugees from some of the world's worst hellholes -- a dizzyingly varied stream of African immigrants to the United States. More than one million strong and growing, they are enlivening American cities and altering how the nation confronts its racial identity.
Chad: Government, rebels hold Tripoli peace talks
Chad's government and rebel leaders gathered in Tripoli on Friday for Libyan-brokered peace talks aimed at ending an insurgency against President Idriss Deby's rule, rebel chiefs and Libyan officials said. A coalition of Chadian rebels have been fighting a hit-and-run guerrilla war for well over a year against Deby's forces in eastern Chad, which is also hit by a spillover of refugees and Arab Janjaweed raiders from Sudan's Darfur region.
DRC: Violence hampering aid efforts in the east
Attacks on civilians and clashes between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwandan rebels have hindered efforts to reach affected populations in the east, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. The attacks were mainly perpetrated by the Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebels, who fled their country after the 1994 genocide and have continued to resist the Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC).
Sudan: AU extends mandate of Darfur mission
The African Union extended the mandate for its Darfur peacekeeping mission until the end of the year on Friday and said it hoped efforts to deploy a hybrid AU/United Nations force would be speeded up. The AU's Peace and Security Council also called for financial and logistical support for its AMIS operation in the troubled Sudanese region, where its African troops have not been paid for three months at a time.
Sudan: Chinese envoy arrives for Darfur talks
China will send more than 200 troops to Sudan's Darfur region to help a joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force, its special envoy said in Khartoum on Friday. "The government is planning to send 275 multipurpose, multifunction engineering troops to support the second phase of the Annan plan, the heavy support package," Liu Guijin told reporters in Khartoum, where he will meet President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Karti on Saturday.
Western Sahara: The Sahara's frozen conflict
Efforts to end the near-forgotten conflict in Western Sahara seem to have picked up momentum, after 16 years of bloody war and another 16 of failed peacemaking. The conflict began when 350,000 Moroccans marched into the formerly Spanish-controlled region in 1975, generating armed resistance by the Polisario Front movement of the local Sahrawi people, who wanted independence, not a new overlord. After apparent concessions from both Morocco and the Polisario, U.N.-sponsored talks involving the local and regional parties began this week.
Africa: A decade of providing computers
When Tony Roberts and two colleagues came up with the idea of assisting communities in less developed countries with computers, the idea was termed as 'crazy'. Roberts and his colleagues never gave up! They started Computer Aid, a UK based charity that refurbishes computers and ships them to various communities in the world. This year, the charity celebrates a decade with an aim of surpassing the 100,000 computers' mark. To date, Computer Aid has provided about 90,000 computers to various organizations, 75 per cent of them in Africa, and the numbers are rising by the day.
Highway Africa News Agency
When Tony Roberts and two colleagues came up with the idea of assisting communities in less developed countries with computers, the idea was termed as 'crazy'.
Roberts and his colleagues never gave up! They started Computer Aid, a UK based charity that refurbishes computers and ships them to various communities in the world.
This year, the charity celebrates a decade with an aim of surpassing the 100,000 computers' mark. To date, Computer Aid has provided about 90,000 computers to various organizations, 75 per cent of them in Africa, and the numbers are rising by the day.
'It's a good way to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Back then, the idea was termed as crazy but today, that question is not open for discussion,' said Roberts.
At first, Computer Aid worked with major international organizations such as Action Aid and Oxfam where they identified community organizations in need of computers and worked together to make it happen.
To make it easier, Roberts says the charity posted an application form on their website where the non governmental organizations were expected to fill and update on the number of computers needed.
'We not only received feedback from our partner organizations but other people surfing stumbled on our site and expressed interest. We received applications from organizations working in sanitation, education, health, among many other fields,' says Roberts.
According to Roberts, the various organizations wanted to introduce computers but lacked the money to buy new computers and even where they had the money to buy, they felt a need to make savings.
Because Computer Aid could not meet the overwhelming demand, Roberts says communities were urged to meet the costs of refurbishing and shipping, which still ends up being cheap.
From humble beginnings, Computer Aid has now provided 75 per cent of the 90,000 computers to African schools, colleges, hospitals, among other community based projects.
Asked about community response, Roberts says communities have mobilized resources and applied for computers, as well as government institutions.
Rwanda government has been at the forefront of embracing computers. Indeed, the Ministry of Health in the central African nation has deployed 500 computers in the national referral hospital, and is pushing digitization to the districts hospitals and local level.
However, in some cases the policy framework in some African countries has also been problematic but more countries now are formulating policies to guide the rolling out and implementation of ICT projects. In Kenya, the government has published the Kenya Communications (amendment) bills and is expected to be debated in parliament soon.
'I could see in my own country (UK) computers benefit schools, hospitals, and in economic and trade. The EU has successfully built its economy on ICT for 15 years and I wanted that to happen in other parts of the world,' says Roberts, with a look of satisfaction on his face.
But for Roberts, the real satisfaction is in hearing the story of James Muthoka, a farmer in Machakos who has used computer generated metrological analysis to determine what crop to plant and make a bumper harvest or the ministry of health official who is able to map the patterns of the malaria carrying mosquitoes and advise residents accordingly.
His satisfaction is also reflected in the faces of students and teachers who are able to access computers in their schools.
Africa: OPLC starting pilots in South Africa and Nigeria
Although the roll-out date for One Laptop Per Child’s (OLPC) low-cost machine has been put back until October 2007, OLPC is using a limited number of trial machines to run pilots to gain experience of how it will work in the local context. The machine is made of tough white and green plastic, has a four-hour battery, a color screen and built-in Wi-Fi. Russell Southwood caught up last week with Antoine Van Gelder who is part of OLPC’s South African developer programme.
Africa: Save Africa from e-waste
The recent push for computerization in Africa has come with new challenges of 'dumping' that is posing environmental hazards in many African countries. Pictures of computer dumpsites in Nigeria have arrayed fears that western countries are using Africa as a dumping ground for obsolete computers in the name of computer donations.
Highway Africa News Agency
The recent push for computerization in Africa has come with new challenges of 'dumping' that is posing environmental hazards in many African countries.
Pictures of computer dumpsites in Nigeria have arrayed fears that western countries are using Africa as a dumping ground for obsolete computers in the name of computer donations.
At the just concluded e-learning Africa conference, the theme of collaboration was underscored and computer donations were at the heart of it.
Tony Roberts, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Computer Aid, sees the question of e-waste from a more generalized view.
"People need to be asked and challenged about electronic waste, its not only computers, the mobile phone we use will one day need to be disposed, the hi fi system, the TV at home, will have to be disposed at one point," says Roberts. According to Roberts, the world has now consumed more than a billion PCs, a billion mobiles and a billion TVs, which need to be disposed in an environmentally friendly way.
Without underrating the environmental concerns, Roberts says the images from Nigeria and china is all about greed. Some companies in the west are said to promote such kind of dumping to avoid costs of recycling and purchase of computer components. The major metals used in computer manufacture are gold, silver, platinum, and copper, and their costs are up the roof, making recovery of such metals a booming business in most developing countries.
Instead of breaking the components and recycling as required, Roberts says most companies engaging in such dumping do not care about recycling or environmental concerns posed by such activities.
Though the costs are high, most countries in the European Union especially the Scandinavian countries have invested in recycling plants that are environmental friendly.
But some countries like Britain are yet to invest in such measures.
So, for the computers that are donated but do not meet the minimum required standard set by Computer Aid; they are shipped to Germany and Holland for recycling. The charity meets the costs of recycling.
"We ensure that all the computers we get are in proper conditions, for anyone to use. We donate P3 and P4s which are professionally evaluated before shipping," says Roberts.
Gladys Muhunyo, the Africa programme manager at Computer Aid says the charity is concerned with improving people's livelihood and not harming them.
Locally, Muhunyo says there is a recycling project at 'Computer for Schools Kenya', one of the major computer recipients from the charity.
"Computers are improving lives of people and businesses. That's an advantage and the challenge is designing ways to recycle them at an affordable and environmental friendly way,? says Muhunyo.
However, Muhunyo insisted that the issue of e-waste does not relate to refurbished computers only but also new computers which at one point will need to be disposed in an environmental friendly way.
She calls for concerted efforts between communities, governments and organizations in designing innovative and cost effective ways to recycle electronic products.
Rwanda: Village phone bridging communication gap
The penetration of Telecommunication services in sub-Saharan Africa remains minimal on average. For some nations like Rwanda, penetration is as low as 4 percent when compared to the country's total population figures. Some times limited telecom penetration in sub-Saharan Africa can be as a result of lacking basic telecom infrastructure in place but also simply failure, on the part of those countries with the right infrastructure, to design ample and affordable telecom products for the rural poor.
Highway Africa News Agency
The penetration of Telecommunication services in sub-Saharan Africa remains minimal on average. To some nations like Rwanda, penetration is as low as 4 percent when compared to the country's total population figures.
Some times limited telecom penetration in sub-Saharan Africa can be as a result of lacking basic telecom infrastructure in place but also simply failure, on the part of those countries with the right infrastructure, to design ample and affordable telecom products for the rural poor.
MTN Rwanda's Tel'imbere product is an answer to the latter. Tel'imbere, Village Phone Rwanda has been singled out as a "special tool" that provides affordable telephone access to places where there could be no access to public communications and where power supplies are either unreliable or nonexistent.
Tel'imbere has been perfectly designed for the rural poor and comes to solve the rural telecommunication blackout but also enhance the economic welfare of those living in the rural setting.
As MTN Rwanda counts down nearly a year after introducing Tel'imbere, statistics show that the Village Phone has been embraced with open arms. "The reception amongst the rural folks has been incredible," says Albert Kinuma, Managing Director of the Tel'imbere.
"It has changed the lives of people not only in terms of bringing affordable communications to their door steps but also to some it is an income generating venture" Tel'imbere was launched in June by MTN Rwanda and Grameen Foundation, a global non-profit organization that combines microfinance with new technologies. The village phone concept was first introduced in Bangladesh A Village Phone set consists of a mobile handset, an external long-lasting battery that can last a month without the recharging it, and boasts of an extended antenna that can capture even MTN's weakest communication signals.
Village Phone Rwanda is partnering with local microfinance institutions to help rural individuals have access to soft loans needed to purchase the village phone equipment. Some 50 Rwandans took part in a one-year pilot program which ended in April 2006 but the figure has now risen to 400 subscribers. MTN Rwanda will target 3 000 customers over the next 2 years. Today each operator serves close to 200 people within one community.
"Under this initiative, we extend the benefits of affordable telecommunications solution in a sustainable, profitable and empowering way," says Albert Kinuma.
"This relatively inexpensive technology can solve many of the problems the poor in rural villages have faced for decades."
The village Phone solution is a win-win concept for all stakeholders. The phone operators have strong, thriving and profitable businesses, rural microfinance institutions earn considerable revenues on accrued interest on loans as well as commissions from the sale of prepaid airtime cards and of course the ordinary rural lives have changed as a result of affordable phone services linking them to their friends, family, business contacts and the world at large.
"As you know market penetration is around 4 percent. This means that 96 percent of the population does not own mobile phones. Therefore, these are the people that Tel'imbere is targeting. This initiative perfectly suits MTN's vision and mission of extending telecom services to each and every individual in this country," says Albert.
Seychelles: E-government projects see the light
Government services in Seychelles are undergoing a major transformation as various departments are making information and resources available online to the public. Seychelles e-government goal is to make information and communication technologies (ICT) integral to the delivery of government information, services and processes. The implementations have encountered delays since Vice President Joseph Belmont first announced it in January 2006.
Highway Africa News Agency
Government services in Seychelles are undergoing a major transformation as various departments are making information and resources available online to the public.
Seychelles e-government goal is to make information and communication technologies (ICT) integral to the delivery of government information, services and processes.
The implementations have encountered delays since Vice President Joseph Belmont first announced it in January 2006.
He explained that the most important anticipated benefits of the project will include improved efficiency, convenience, and better accessibility of public services. However, the opposition has raised concerns about the project namely access, education standards and ICT literacy.
"Governments may need to consider how the impact of age, language skills or the public?s interest will guarantee the project?s success," according to the administrator of a local ISP. To date the departments of education, employment and social affairs, are using information technologies to exchange authoritative government information and services with the public, businesses, and other branches of government.
"e-Government should be applied by all government departments in order to improve internal efficiency, the delivery of public services, or processes of democratic governance," say Evans Delcy a government's department System Support Manager.
Other online materials are also available "in confidence," meaning to view their content you need to be an employee of a government department, in which case a login and password would be required before you can access the confidential material.
Such resources are available within the departments of health, land use and habitat and immigration services.
In a recently published document entitled "Seychelles Strategy 2017" the government stated that by then, all government agencies and their partners will use technology to provide user-centred information to achieve joint outcomes.
The people's transactions with the government are also expecting transformation, with increasing and innovative use of network technologies that provide more opportunities.
Uganda: Eighty schools to connect to the Internet
Uganda's Communications Commission (UCC) is to spend a total of one million dollars (USD$1 million) to connect eighty secondary schools to the Internet. "We have worked with the ministry of education and sports and have selected eighty schools that would be connected in the next financial year," said the commission?s executive director Eng. Patrick Masambu. "This is one of the key targets to be achieved by the year 2010 according to the proposed telecommunications policy," he told HANA in an interview in Kampala.
Highway Africa News Agency
Uganda's Communications Commission (UCC) is to spend a total of one million dollars (USD$1 million) to connect eighty secondary schools to the Internet.
"We have worked with the ministry of education and sports and have selected eighty schools that would be connected in the next financial year," said the commission?s executive director Eng. Patrick Masambu.
"This is one of the key targets to be achieved by the year 2010 according to the proposed telecommunications policy," he told HANA in an interview in Kampala.
Other targets the commission wants to achieve include institutional data access points of not less than 256 kilobytes per second (kbps), Universal Primary Education (UPE) schools and post primary institutions, government health units and local council (LC3), and population centres exceeding 1 200 people and establishmenst of public data access points of not less than 256 kbps to each sub-county.
"We have also planned to establish public voice access points within each parish at LC11 level, high capacity backbone linking all district headquarters and major towns," he said.
"We are also targeting increased penetration of voice services to 20 percent from the current 4.2 percent and increased Internet penetration from the present one percent to 10 percent,".
Since the establishment of the rural communication development fund (RCDF) in 2003, 52 internet points of presence, 13 multi purpose tele-centres, 55 internet cafes, 55 ICT training centres, 54 district web portals, 1 835 pay phones, three rural research projects and rural post franchise support to 25 post offices have all been established. The government has also started laying a 2 000sq. km national transmission backbone cable that will be ready for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to be held in November.
"In the first we are putting up 2 000sq km of the cable that is intended to ensure high quality and low cost services and will reach all the major towns of Uganda by November this year," said the ministry's acting permanent secretary Godfrey Kubuuka. This project would introduce office automation, video conferencing, electronic mail and reduce the cost of doing business." He also said that the present Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) infrastructure coverage has reached 745 sub-counties out of the 926.
ICT Minister Dr. Ham Mulira said the youth in particular will benefit from the backbone by having access to affordable voice and data services like E-learning, telemedicine, E-commerce, and out-sourcing. The rapid growth of the sector has brought many opportunities for the youths by creating jobs and new innovations.
"Today many ICT companies employ mainly the youths because of their easy adaptability to ICT's."
"The project however is to complement the private sector but not to compete with it and the private sector should concentrate their efforts and investments on using the infrastructure to provide several varieties of services to the public," he said.
Mulira also pointed out that the government was also developing district information centres after the establishment of the national backbone infrastructure.
"The centres will act as information sharing and distributing points in the districts, these developments however require Ugandans to have the necessary skills to benefit fully from the ICTs." he concluded.
Zambia: Interactive mobile phones for farmers
Following the Launch of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy, the Zambian government has pledged to provide an enabling environment to allow more private sector participation in the ICT sector.
Highway Africa News Agency
Following the Launch of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy, the Zambian government has pledged to provide an enabling environment to allow more private sector participation in the ICT sector.
Participation by the private sector in the ICT sector will allow more players to expand their ICT services to rural areas which are lagging behind in technological development and infrastructure. This came to light when Zambia's Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha witnessed the launch of Celtel Network in Keembe situated in the Central Province of Zambia.
Shikapwasha explained that Celtel had continued to empower the local people through innovative and affordable services as well as business opportunities.
"since its inception, Celtel had experienced phenomenal growth which was an indication that the Zambian mobile phone networks had greatly contributed to the growth of the economy," Shikapwasha said.
He said it was encouraging to see the firm invest in telecommunication, especially in rural areas, saying the Government welcomed investment that took into account the interest of the local people.
"We commend Celtel and the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) for launching the commodity price information services for the small-scale and commercial farmers to access information using the mobile phone," he said.
He said this would assist local farmers get best prices of the commodities from the ZNFU.
Celtel managing director, David Venn said the newly introduced commodity price information services would empower small-scale and commercial farmers have access to data on the mobile phones throughout Zambia.
Venn explained that the move would empower the farmers by removing "briefcase?"buyers who took advantage of the farmers.
He said the commodity price information services had been put up by the ZNFU and all data would be provided by the union.
For example, to get information on a certain commodity, SMS Maize to 4455 and would automatically get feedback immediately on the information requested.
He called upon the private sector and software companies to come up with new products and assured that Celtel would be readily available to help.
He said the company had so far put up networks in 200 towns and hit the engineer's record of setting up 38 new towers in one month.
Global: All In Diary
Acknowledged as an excellent way of “getting information across” and supporting those who need to “learn as they do’”, the All In Diary is an innovative and practical tool developed to support humanitarian workers. Within a personal organizer, it incorporates customized diary pages to plan and record activities, and log notes and information for on-going evaluation, organizational learning and effective staff handover. It also provides essential pointers on 50 topics related to good humanitarian practice, plus additional CD and web-based tools and resources in relation to each topic.
Global: MA Studentship announcement
As part of its Knowledge Building and Mentoring Programme, the Conflict, Security and Development Group (CSDG) at King’s College London in collaboration with the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is pleased to announce a call for applications for the MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme 2007-8.
The CSDG/ ECOWAS Peace and Security Mentoring Programme
As part of its Knowledge Building and Mentoring Programme, the Conflict, Security and Development Group (CSDG) at King's College London in collaboration with the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is pleased to announce a call for applications for the MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme 2007-8. Funded by the UK Department for International Development, the Programme will bring together 5 West Africans at the early stages of their career to undertake a carefully designed MA and training programme in Conflict, Security and Development at the King's College London. This training will conclude with an attachment to the ECOWAS Commission for practical experience in the field of peace and security.
The Purpose of the MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme The Programme is designed to expose young African professionals to the complexities of conflict, security and development and to equip them for careers in this field. The Programme has 3 main aims: The first is to increase the pool of West Africans versed in the field of Peace and Security. The second is to ensure that African regional organisations such as ECOWAS have better access to knowledge and expertise relevant to their peace and security mechanisms. The third aim is to inject skills within regional and national centres of excellence so that they can strengthen their policy research capacity on peace, security and development topics. It will also develop the existing network of African scholars working in the field whilst linking them with the peace and security mechanisms of relevant regional institutions. Programme Content This is an 18 month Programme, with 3 components. The first comprises the MA Programme and mentoring sessions based at King's college London. The first part of this phase entails full-time study at KCL, where successful candidates will pursue an MA in Conflict, Security and Development and attend specifically designed training sessions on African peace and security.
During this period, they will conduct visits to several UK institutions working in the field of peace and security and undertake research visits to partner institutions in Europe. The period of study in the UK will end with a simulation seminar during which a mock conflict management situation will be practiced. Action Research and Mentoring at select institutions The second component entails action research aimed at exposing successful applicants to the real world of policy actors, while undertaking research directly relevant to the work of key African regional organizations, particularly ECOWAS. This will be based on collaboration with CSDG partner institutions, including, for example, the New York University Centre on International Co-operation (NYU-CIC), the International Peace Academy (IPA) also in New York and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP).
During the period of their attachment to these institutions, Fellows will be expected to produce written work, based on analysis of issues of immediate policy relevance to the work of ECOWAS and/or the African Union. The subject of their research will have been agreed with the facilitating institutions and the sponsoring African organizations at an earlier period. Attachment to ECOWAS The third component of the CSDG/ ECOWAS MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme will be based at the ECOWAS Commission, where participants on the programme will be based for a minimum period of 6 months. Here, participants will follow a structured program applying knowledge gained through training while also gaining direct experience of the workings of the organization.
Under the supervision of senior staff working in the field of peace and security, they will participate in and contribute to the day-to-day work of the organization. They will also be exposed to the complexities of the sub-region and to the stack realities confronting the practitioners operating on peace and security in West Africa. Terms of the MA Studentship and Mentoring Programme Successful applicants will have the status of full time MA students on Conflict Security and Development Masters course. It is necessary for applicants to the Mentoring Programme to make individual successful applications to the MA Conflict, Security and Development in the Department of War Studies.
Details of the MA Conflict Security and Development can be found at this link: <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/sspp/ws/ps/tpg/macsd/> You can make an on-line application at this link: <http://student.kcl.apply.studylink.com/index.cfm?event=security.showLogin> All foreign students at King's College London and will be subject to the immigration rules of the UK, which can be found on the King's College London web page for obtaining student visas: <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/international/preparing/visas/>
Additional information on studying as an international student at King's College London is available on the College's webpage for International Students: <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/structure/admin/acareg/studentservices/intstudents> The position is funded* and will include a stipend of £825 per month for the first 12 months based in London. In addition, a one-off sum of £750 will be made available to each student upon their arrival in the UK, to assist with winter clothing and book expenses. Successful candidates will be able to apply for University of London accommodation, although they can make their own alternative accommodation arrangements. Candidates are strongly advised to make all necessary accommodation arrangements prior to taking up their positions at King's College London. Information on KCL student accommodation can be found at this link: <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/about/structure/admin/facser/accomm/appguide.html>
For the period of attachment in ECOWAS, participants will receive a stipend of $1,000 per month, exclusive of medical insurance expenses; in addition to a $500 one-off allowance to enable them settle in to their location. Fellows are expected to find their own accommodation during this phase also. It is important to note that this financial support is for individual participants on the programme. It does not cover dependants and it is not intended to support family members. Successful candidates will need to make alternative arrangements to cover the costs of dependants before arrival in the UK. Under the UK Immigration laws, prospective applicants must satisfy the Home Office that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents before arrival in the UK (taking into account the stipend to be provided by the Mentoring Programme).
The programme is a full time appointment and all applicants are expected to make a full time commitment. Given the intensive nature of the programme, including its short phases in different locations, as well as necessary extensive travel, successful applicants that are expectant or nursing mothers will be advised to defer their admission to the programme. The offer of a place on the programme will be subject to successful candidates obtaining a student visa to study on the MA. Failure to obtain a visa to enter the UK automatically invalidates the offer of a place on the programme with no consequences to King's College London. Successful applicants will be required to undergo medical examinations at recommended venues prior to taking up their positions. It is a condition of the programme that successful candidates shall return to their base or home countries at the end of the programme.
Please note that any deviation from the terms of the programme, except as may be lawfully authorized by King's College London, shall affect a successful applicant's immigration status. Please consult the British Embassy/High Commission in your home country for more information. The Conflict Security and Development Group reserve the right to terminate the appointment in the event of any breach of the conditions of the MA Studentships and Peace and Security Mentoring Programme.
Eligibility Applicants should: Submit a separate application for the MA Conflict Security and Development (CSD) at King's College London. The offer of a place on the programme will be conditional upon admission onto the MA. Be citizens of a West African country (member states of ECOWAS), with valid travel documents. Have knowledge of, or experience of human rights, security and development issues.
Must be able to demonstrate a commitment to contribute to work on peace and security in Africa Have a demonstrable plan for how to utilise knowledge gained in the Fellowship upon return to their countries and organisations.
Must be fluent in spoken and written English.
Application To be considered for the MA Studentships and Mentoring Programme please e-mail or post the following documents to Eka Ikpe at email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> or Eka Ikpe, Conflict, Security and Development Group, King's College, London WC2R 2LS UK by 17:00 hrs, 10July 2007: A letter of application detailing your relevant experience and qualifications.
A supporting statement detailing why you think that this Mentoring Programme is important and future plans for engagement with peace and security issues no longer than 1,000 words.
2 letters of recommendation(To be received directly from the Referees by the deadline of 17:00 hrs, 10 July 2007)
Recent curriculum vitae.
Two writing samples.
Indicate on your MA Conflict Security and Development application that you are also applying for a place on the CSDG/ECOWAS Peace and Security Mentoring Programme.
Please ensure all documents are sent in as MS Word attachments in a single email message or as a single post package and that your name is indicated at the top right hand corner of every page of all documents submitted.
* This project is funded with the generous support of the Department for International Development.
South Africa: Building capacity for rights, democracy and development in Africa, Sept 2007
This course, intended for people concerned with social change in Africa, aims to build capacity for advancing rights within development and activist organizations. It will assist researchers, advocates, trainers and programme officers from civil society and state institutions to develop practical approaches to using rights advocacy and development programmes. The application is due by 6 July 2007.
Global: Administration Volunteer/Intern - CDD
The Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD) is seeking an administration volunteer/intern to work in the organisation’s International Office in London to cover expanding demands on current staff. There is a possibility for future part-time paid employment as administrator. Deadline for applictions is 20 July 2007.
The Centre for Democracy & Development (CDD) is seeking an administration volunteer/intern to work in the organisation’s International Office in London to cover expanding demands on current staff. There is a possibility for future part-time paid employment as administrator.
You will need to be a well organised individual with excellent communication skills and fluency in English. Additional language skills such as French would be an advantage but not mandatory. In terms of computer skills you will need to be mastering Microsoft Office programmes, especially MS Word, Excel, Access, and Explorer. Experience in accounting, making use of MS Excel, is especially important.
The Centre for Democracy & Development, established in 1997 to work on democracy and development in West Africa, with particular focus on Nigeria, has since its inception grown to be one of the main African led NGOs/think tanks on the ground in West Africa and in the UK. The organisation has a long track record in addressing such issues as democratisation, constitutionalism, good governance, peace & security, human rights, gender and development.
Responsibilities Financial coordination, accounts, payments, correspondence, general admin including ordering of stationary, maintaining files, dealing with suppliers, responding to enquiries, maintenance of email lists and contact database.
CDD, Unit 2L Leroy House, 436 Essex Road, London N1 3QP, Tel: 020 7359 7775, 07 717 051 742, Fax: 020 7359 2221, email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.cddwestafrica.org Please send your CV and a covering letter to email@example.com by 20 July 2007.
Global: Program Assistant - African Higher Education and Training (AHET)
The Africa-America Institute, a New York City nonprofit organization with African tertiary education and professional training mission seeks a Program Assistant, African Higher Education and Training (AHET). The Program Assistant (AHET) is involved in a wide range of activities that support the placement and monitoring of individual and group participant training and scholarship programs administered by AAI. The Program Assistant supports the Program Officer with administrative and clerical duties.
Global: Support Centre Coordinator - ACTION
Become an essential part of a growing, dynamic organization. ACTION for Conflict Transformation (ACTION) is a global network of grassroots peace builders with a Support Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. Closing date for applications: 26th of June 2007. Interview will be held on the 1st week of July.
Become an essential part of a growing, dynamic organization. ACTION for Conflict Transformation (ACTION) is a global network of grassroots peace builders with a Support Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Support Centre runs a number of programmes locally, regionally and continentally and is urgently seeking an office coordinator whose major responsibilities will include delegating projects, coordinating operations and resource management. Excellent work ethics and proven leadership abilities are a must! Strong verbal and written communication skills are essential
Supervision and coordination of office resources and activities
Team building and human resource empowerment
Administrative and financial oversight
Relationship building and networking
Fundraising and strategic thinking
Education and Experience:
• A tertiary qualification, or equivalent experience, in development, peace and conflict studies, international relations or a related field
• Proven ability and some experience of the essential functions outlined
• Experience of supervision or management
• Excellent oral and written communication skills, interpersonal and leadership skills
Please send a CV and a motivational cover letter and three contactable references to firstname.lastname@example.org & cc: email@example.com Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
Closing date for applications: 26th of June 2007
Interview will be held on the 1st week of July
Kenya: Programme Specialist - Rule of Law and Security Programme, UNDP
The Programme Specialist is responsible for: Supporting implementation of projects in the Rule of Law and Security (ROLS) Programme area; Ensuring high quality monitoring and evaluation, reporting and oversight/quality control for the ROLS programme area; Coordinating the monitoring of progress on Country Programme outcomes and outputs; Liaising and strengthening partnerships with other UN agencies, government officials, technical advisors and experts, multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors and Somali civil society; Providing policy and programmatic advice and facilitating knowledge management. Closing Date: 27 June 2007
Kenya: Volunteer/Intern in Grant Management - ACORD
ACORD is in process of streamlining and focusing her interventions to the four thematic areas of livelihoods, HIV/AIDS, gender and conflict. ACORD is implementing a Pan African advocacy programme on food sovereignty and overall thematic strategies. Similarly ACORD's country and regional strategies are being thematically aligned. In this context the volunteer will contribute towards aligning grants with ACORD's strategic objectives.
Rwanda: Project Manager - American Refugee Committee (ARC)
The Project Manager will have responsibility for overall management and development of ARC’s GBV programs in Byumba (Gihembe Camp) and Gituza (Nyabiheke Camp). He/she will collaborate with the Health Program Coordinator, GBV Community Coordinators and the Community Health Education Coordinators in the Gihembe and Nyabiheke Camps in the planning, implementation, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation, reporting and review of ARC’s GBV prevention and response program in Rwanda.
South Africa: Country Director - Jesuit Refugee Services
Ensures that staff are well versed in vision and mission of JRS; Provides leadership in applying this vision and mission to all aspects of planning and project implementation; Manifests concern for refugee welfare and issues in the country; Supports JRS staff in all aspects of their service. Deadline: 14 July 2007
UK: Local Democratic Governance Adviser, Progressio
The Progressio Development Worker (DW) will support the Academy of Peace & Development (APD) in assisting local government efforts to establish legal reform for increasing citizen involvement in local decision-making - including participatory planning and budgeting, mandatory public meetings, discussion forums and referenda on local issues. Deadline: July 1 2007.
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