The African Union (AU) is the continent’s body that, on paper, seeks to among other things “Defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States”.
Its main objectives, borrowed or revamped from its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), are to “rid the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonisation and apartheid; to promote unity and solidarity amongst African States; to coordinate and intensify cooperation for development; to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States and to promote international cooperation.”
Again, this is all on paper going by the continent-wide failures that have been witnessed under the watch of the AU.
Is AU the lame duck?
The Addis Ababa headquartered body is, again on paper, guided by its vision of “An Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”
This article is an indictment of this body which has largely remained a sore thumb when it comes to many African issues that remain unresolved. It is still a largely colonial entity doing the bidding of its masters if what is going on in Africa is anything to go by.
The latest embarrassment is Mali whose citizens are living in fear with the consistent coups that have been taking place in the country of 20.25 million people. Just as has happened in other African countries, the instability which is largely driven by natural resources is happening under the so-called watchful eye of what can only be described as a moribund AU.
Ethiopia, Mozambique, the Central African Republic (CAR) and many others are seeing their economies waste away as insurgency grows under the ‘watchful’ eyes of this continental body.
That aside, what could be driving the insurgency in Mali?
As usual, it is the scramble for Africa. This continues with the AU not condemning the anarchy by financiers of the chaos who are mostly not African. Africa’s underground riches have for decades been driving a cabal of selfish dictators, in collaboration with their Western masters, to doing the unthinkable. Mali is the latest casualty.
Mali is rich in every sense.
The West African nation is the continent’s fourth-largest gold producer after Ghana, South Africa, and Sudan with the country’s natural resources industry dominated by gold. The country’s primary export is gold which accounted for more than 80 per cent of Mali’s total exports in 2020.
Mali’s mineral resources
2019 estimates show that Mali has significant mineral potential since it has a diverse resource base. In addition to gold, the country has rich uranium, iron ore, bituminous shale (oil shale) and phosphates deposits among others.
Government estimates show that the country has 800 metric tonnes of gold deposits, two billion metric tonnes of iron, 5,200 metric tonnes of uranium and 10 million metric tonnes of manganese, according to Statista.
This mineral wealth, as happens with many other conflict-ridden African countries, could be the reason that Mali is where it is today. The country’s transition to civilian rule following a 2020 military coup could not hold after another coup in May 2021. This, according to Human Rights Watch, was the third in under 10 years.
As is usual, the powers that be orchestrate political crises in African countries so when the peacekeeping forces arrive, it is open season for all and sundry.
After the coup, Col. Assimi Goïta, the transitional vice-president detained transitional President Bah N’Daw with the Prime Minister Moctar Ouane on May 24, 2021. This transitional team was a caretaker government installed after the August 2020 military coup.
In June, Goïta was sworn in as head of state.
But power corrupts. Goïta had initially promised to stick by the 18-month deadline for transition to civilian rule in which he was to organise free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections by February 27, 2022. He backtracked from the agreement after the 2020 coup saying that the timelines could not be met.
Mali was threatened with sanctions by ECOWAS where borders with the bloc’s countries would be closed while sweeping economic sanctions would be imposed in response to delays holding the elections.
In a statement issued after a meeting in Ghana on January 9, the bloc which has 15 members agreed to impose additional sanctions with immediate effect. These included the closure of the bloc members’ land and air borders. The suspension would also see non-essential financial transactions barred while Mali state assets held in ECOWAS banks would be frozen.
In all this, unless the AU has delegated its powers, it remained silent.
With this kind of casual approach to issues plaguing the continent, will the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is meant to harness trade in Africa work smoothly or will it be hijacked?
The AfCFTA creates a 1.3 billion people market which would see Africa export and import within itself which could lead to more value addition of the resources it produces. This includes the minerals in Mali which could benefit Malians more if the environment for their production was friendly.
As is happening with the DR Congo, the looting of Africa’ resources continues with wanton abandon. This denies a majority of Africans the opportunity of ever getting out of poverty and ending the cycle. It then begs the question: what are the African leaders doing when Africa is hollowed under their watch?
Unless these issues are addressed conclusively, the AfCFTA could once again be an expensive affair of much ado about nothing. The African leaders have failed their people who have to keep fighting to get out of the poverty dungeon they have been pushed into generation after generation.
Ethiopia has been a luminary on the continent but the AU’s silence on what is happening there speaks volumes about African brotherhood. It is one thing to claim to be brother; another when actions speak otherwise.
Africa has powered Western nations to where they are today and there is still so much more where that came from. The independence that African countries so loudly brag about is nothing but mockery when we keep singing foreign tunes which continue disadvantaging our people. If the resources we have keep going to China, India, Europe and the Americas but cannot help the custodians, what independence is there?
Just like the iconic reggae band Morgan Heritage’s song, there’s nothing to smile about.
Dear African leaders, until when?
We crave Patrice Lumumba’s prophecy coming true.
“The day will come when history will speak. But it will not be the history which will be taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations…Africa will write its own history and in both north and south it will be a history of glory and dignity.”