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AFRICAN UNIFICATION DEMANDS INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS
AFRICAN UNIFICATION DEMANDS INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS
by Dan Kashagama
AUF General Secretary


The year 2002 has seen the most profound and important summits in Africa’s recent history. The G8 Summit of Kanaskis, the inaugural Summit of the African Union at Durban, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development at Johannesburg in the African Union.

Those Summits have done much to focus attention on African unity and the need for policy coherence in the relations between Africa and the rest of the world. They promoted the necessity of involving Africa as an equal partner in global issues. The summits have stimulated more thinking and cooperation on Africa, in Africa and among G8 countries. It is no longer contentious or radical to talk about Pan Africanism at international conferences. Pan African perspectives are now an expected and even a necessary component of world affairs.

However, the G8, and the AU Summits omitted to focus on the tangle of institutions, and complexity of operations involved in African integration. These summits did what was required of them, and it is up to other summits and forums to enter the doors they've opened and address the intricate details. In the meantime, commitments are not being met on account of the fact that key African institutions are still unformed (Pan African Parliament, African Defence Force), or remain fragmented and uncoordinated (eg., the African Court of Justice), and officers in key positions are still hesitant to assert their authority in a new direction. In other words, it is business as usual.

Many African leaders, continue to function in trade and diplomatic issues without due regard for AU resolutions. For example, Mbeki made bizarre remarks that chilled Diaspora Africans at the African Union Summit. Shortly after that, Ghadaffi unilaterally made trade deals with Britain in exchange for flowery reviews of the Lockerbie affair, and Obasanjo led the chorus in vehemently attacking NEPAD to spite Mbeki for his arrogance at the Summit. So much for African unity, its most visible spokespersons are showing themselves to be ideologically undisciplined. Many of the other 54 heads of state have only recently acknowledged Pan Africanism in public, and have no clue how to be Pan Africanist in their official activities.

The attention of leaders in Africa and elsewhere will again become focused on short-term gains for narrow political and economic interests, while institutions working on African integration disperse their energies on uncoordinated agendas. Barely a month after the G8 Summit, the reputation of the NEPAD project is already roiling in the confusion generated by the failure to disentangle the African Union from the personal, sub-regional, and short-term policies of constituent republics.

The failure to pursue African unity efforts to their logical conclusion compels us to look more systematically at implementing institutions and their reform. It is obvious that reform of institutional mandates is at the core of the process of African integration (hence the dissolution of the OAU and the formation of the AU). But reform must include methods of enforcement that go beyond fines and exclusion of entire republics (and kingdoms) on account of the failures of their governments (or more likely, their election-rigging war-mongering sellout-dictators). AU Commission Chair Amara Essy should take a more authoritative stance and stop playing second fiddle to Mbeki and Ghadafi.

There are clear means and methods by which political and economic integration can be made the paramount activity of the political process in the African Union. One of those means entails drastic personal consequences for any leader who fails to implement or act according to the spirit and letter of African unity treaties and regulations. Other means entail funding and training for integration operations (eg., how to manage interstate financial transfers), integration of African diplomatic facilities in foreign capitals, adoption of All-Union product and service standards (tarrifs, permits, passports, taxes, vehicle registration, basic labor codes, postal codes, etc).

Of course there now is more funding for African projects. But this does not necessary mean things will get easier. To get access to funds one must prove to ODA agencies via the same old means that new integration projects bring about development. Some funders are looking for partners to help them define and monitor AU projects, but they are still bound in the old mold and will insist on the usual funding items that satisfy narrowly defined goals. So you might get money to deliver genetically modified food across the ocean to Africa, but not for training or hiring Pan Africanists into management positions at the headquarters of ODA agencies in Ottawa or Washington or Paris. As usual, many NGOs are now grasping at the opportunity to be the conduits for nearly $7 billion over the next decade, regardless of the fact that they have no clue what the motivations and necessary operations of Pan Africanism require of them.

Needless to say, these NGOs will continue to be predominantly staffed at higher management levels by people who are uncommitted to the struggle for African rights, people with agendas that include payroll concerns and other “important matters” of a professional nature. The compassion industry will continue to grow fat at the expense of order and unity in Africa. The USA and the EU continue to pursue a policy of bilateralism with individual African states, not the African Union, as they fund projects sponsored by constituent republics at the expense of regional coherence and stability.

The Summits produced policy without the corresponding substantive changes in management and organization, so that it remains a hard task to persuade people to make the necessary changes required for African integration. The managerial issues require a protracted campaign of reform. The African Union is here to stay. Pan Africanism has won one more battle, but the war for unity, our struggle for order, is far from over. We are not entirely “there” yet. In the end Africa should have only one seat, a powerful All-African vote, at the key international forums, especially in matters of trade and security.

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