The AU of the Heads of States vs the AU of the People
Mandate to Reform the African Union
The 27th African Union Summit in Kigali closed with a commitment to fast track initiatives designed to make the African Union Commission (AUC) financially independent.
African Heads of State also tasked President Paul Kagame to lead a new effort to reform the AU Commission and the Union to make them more efficient.
Welcoming the task, President Kagame said: “I think this is a clear-cut task that has been handed to us and as foot soldiers of our continent we can’t run away from responsibilities, we will be able to do that within our abilities and based on consultations with the Heads of State and Government.” However, the task that President Kagame has committed to is all but an easy one.
Predecessor of the AU, the OAU was expected to serve as an instrument or mechanism for forging unity and solidarity among African states. It was also expected to advance cooperation among countries in order to enhance and promote economic development, improve the quality of life of all Africans, encourage and make possible the peaceful settlement of disputes whilst advancing democracy. Unable to overcome numerous challenges, the OAU, otherwise commonly nicknamed “The Club” was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union, with a charter supposed to address the weaknesses of the OAU, whilst carrying on its major goals. Mwangi S. Kimeny (2016) reported, “Unfortunately, the AU seems to have inherited the OAU’s approach to the performance of its functions as evidenced by the failure of the organization to effectively and timely spearhead the peaceful resolution of destructive conflicts in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Mali”.
For a number of years now, the AU has been subjected to wide criticism for its inertia, lack of inspiration, authority and weak leadership. The Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2015 and more recently the situation where, in several countries, outgoing Heads of States have manipulated national constitutions in order to extend their stay in power, causing political regression and throwing their countries into near chaos, came to comfort the public distrust towards the continental body’s ability to deliver on its mandates. To make the matter worse the AU has been debilitated by the deep financial crisis caused by the lack of financial contribution by Members States to an Organization surviving on the generosity of foreign Partners. This is compounded by an inadequate management and accountability of resources.
The call for a Reform
Reforming the AU had been an obvious conclusion that Member States had arrived at a decade ago. However, the task is all but a pleasure trip as successive Chairpersons found out. Former President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali (2003 – 2008) attempting to assert himself in his role only managed to anger his previous fellows. Rumor even has it that he was called to order by his host reminding him that he was no longer a Head of State but an employee. Konare’s successor Jean Ping of Gabon (2008-2012) learning his lesson, did little on the Reform Agenda.
The results of a commissioned consultancy on the AUC reform remained locked in the drawers amidst rumors that drastic proposals would have risen the ire of Members States.
More recently, the current incumbent, South-African Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, elected on the expectation and the promises to deliver the long awaited reform of the Commission, has not been able to lead a similar process any far, as her initiative remained stalled by the AU oversight bodies.
Questions that President Kagame would no doubt have asked himself before committing his precious time to a Reform of the AU are the following: ……
–>> Click here to Read the full article written by Mr Bonaventure M Sodonon, International Management Consultant & Peace & Security Expert.