Is the noble vision of the African Union to exercise moral leadership over the political and economic challenges of the continent gradually becoming anything other than a pipe-dream?
As rhetorical as the question might be, we pose it anyway, not because we expect instant solutions or a convincing response from the AU. No, we pose it to vent the frustration felt by many globally at the organisation's passivity over the growing Darfur and Zimbabwean crises.
With its inertia becoming more apparent every day in the face of the prolonged suffering of the millions in the two flash-points, the AU needs to do nothing more than deeply reflect on its utter powerlessness and failure to exercise political leadership when most needed.
Think about it, the AU is no different from a handyman who invests his last cent on buying a set of new tools only to keep them under lock and key in the toolbox and then throws a grand party to celebrate the purchase.
If the suffering Zimbabweans found comfort in the AU chairman's recent reaction that the turmoil in their country was "very embarrassing", and the organisation was doing all it could to help, so would the millions of Darfur refugees left to their own devices.
The feeble response from Ghanaian President John Kufuor, current AU chairman, comes amid growing international outrage over the savage beating by Zimbabwean police of members of the country's political opposition, including opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
True solutions to Africa's ills are seldom easy to arrive at, given the complexity of the continent's challenges and the peculiarity of its political landscape, but to sit by and watch the conflagration in the hope that it will soon disappear is as guilty a sin as that committed by the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe and Darfur.
Moral authority comes to those who are not tempted to choose the path of least resistance over the trajectory that demands tough and unpopular choices.