AU's track record of doing nothing of value on the continent speaks for itself

03 February 2020 - 12:47
By Prince Mashele
President Cyril Ramaphosa,  flanked by former SA trade and industry minister Rob Davies and the African Union Commission  chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, is now AU chair.
Image: TWITTER President Cyril Ramaphosa, flanked by former SA trade and industry minister Rob Davies and the African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, is now AU chair.

A storm in a teacup has been twirling over Cyril Ramaphosa assuming the chairpersonship of the African Union (AU).

Indeed, such things keep fat cats in high offices busy. Many of them in the presidency and the department of international relations & cooperation will now wear shiny suits and pointed shoes to shuttle between Addis Ababa and Tshwane.

The fact of the matter, though, is that Ramaphosa and his fat cats will be wasting our money attending useless meetings.

There are countless books and academic papers gathering dust on university shelves and private libraries that paint a fictional portrait of the AU. All of that is a load of humbug.

The truth is plain and simple: the AU is a wasteful bureaucratic ensemble of fat cats, fancifully called commissioners, who wear suits and occupy air-conditioned offices in a glitzy Addis Ababa skyscraper built by the government of China to bribe Africans.

In addition to the full-time bureaucrats, there are heads of state and government who mimic the annual rotational system of chairpersonship practised by other, more consequential international bodies. The African heads of state make a huge storm whenever their turn to chair the AU comes.

Shakespeare was right: nothing comes out of nothing. And so nothing comes out of the AU. Anyone who loves the truth must read all the objectives enumerated in Article 3 of the AU's Constitutive Act, and ask how has the organisation contributed to any of those.

The AU was there when Robert Mugabe was busy ravaging his own country. What did the fat cats in Addis Ababa and their rotating chairpersons do?

The AU was there when the now-arrested Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir of the Sudan was busy murdering and maiming innocent human beings in Darfur. What did the fat cats and their rotating chairpersons do?

The AU was there when Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi was busy plundering Libya and eliminating dissidents until he was himself smoked out of a hole and murdered by agents working for the US. Does anyone remember anything done by some AU fat cats and chairpersons?

If indeed one of the AU's objectives is to "promote and protect human and peoples' rights", as Article 3(h) claims, what did the AU do when the ANC government massacred workers in Marikana? Did any statement come out of that tall Chinese building in Addis Ababa?

The less said about the AU's putative promotion of economic development, the better. If you have travelled across the continent, have you ever seen AU-sponsored economic development in any part of Africa?

What we know is that the same kleptocrats plundering Africa are the ones who rotate the AU's chairpersonship among themselves.

Let us now turn to Ramaphosa and his much-vaunted chairpersonship.

The logical assumption is that when a leader chairs an organisation, he offers ideas to guide the organisation he leads. Here is a question: Has anyone heard anything that sounds like a fresh idea as to what Ramaphosa wants to do as AU chairperson?

What most people don't realise is that Ramaphosa knows absolutely nothing about foreign policy. If you think this is untrue, please tell us what is Ramaphosa's foreign policy, and direct us where we can find and read it.

The last time post-apartheid South Africa had a coherent foreign policy was under Thabo Mbeki. The only problem with Mbeki is that sometimes his pipe made him see an African renaissance that did not exist. But he did have a foreign policy, nonetheless.

Even the mindless Jacob Zuma had a sordid foreign policy. Its centre piece was thieving. Zuma associated himself with Brics despots and pseudo-democrats he knew would say nothing about his domestic looting.

So, let us not waste each other's time: Ramaphosa is assuming the chairpersonship of the AU for himself and the fat cats that surround him - not for us. What he will do there even the man himself does not know.