Politicians: Bottlenecks to African Unity

Published on 21st April 2009

The people of Africa want immediate unity and integration. If we were to put it to a referendum by the African masses, unity would have happened within a day.


All boundaries and regional passports as well as national and regional identities would be abolished. The masses want to bring them down. The African masses want to move within the African continent; their big house, with full freedom. The African masses are tired of borders, restrictions, national passports and identity cards. The peoples are about to explode because of these restrictions imposed on them and have pulled them towards Europe. This is why the workforce in Africa, the youth, are pressing to get out of this big prison: the union government has not materialized, the African unity has not materialized and integration has not happened.


There is no single passport; no single identity, but restrictions upon restrictions as if we are strangers to each other, even though we are all Africans belonging to the same nation; this single African union, the same continent which is endowed with resources and potential.


The masses are accusing us and are saying that the politicians are the ones who are not aware of the conditions of the African citizens and are not implementing the wishes of the African peoples. They are in a world of their own and we are in a world of our own.


As a result, there is agitation, rebellion and even resurgence of coups; all reflective of the fact that politicians have failed in realizing the dream of the masses for unity and integration.


Regrettably, our children are now heading for Europe in search of jobs and are crossing the borders, perishing in the sea. North Africa is now witnessing tragedies daily. Our sons drown in the Mediterranean Sea and the recovery and rescue process as well as their SOS cries are heard daily from the depth of the Mediterranean Sea in their sinking boats. Europeans are getting worried. I am sure they will take some action concerning Africa and will not allow Europe to became black. This is a powerful current that does not seem to stop and this is clear to the Europeans.


We face a serious challenge. We should open our doors that are closed within the continent; develop unity projects to exploit the resources of Africa and absorb the work force, the youth. We should forget about formalities that are of no use to the single African people, the single African nation, the single African soil.


An African instrument is required to implement what we are saying, a single union instrument: the Union Authority, to handle peace, security, defence, foreign affairs, immigration, health, agriculture and industry. A single Union mechanism with a single protocol answerable to the Assembly and the chairperson of the Union annually and periodically supervised by the chairperson of the Union.


A journey of 1000 miles starts with one step. We will not reach the United States of Africa unless we have a Union instrument that works daily for uniting Africa and exploiting its resources. For now, however, we have no one who works daily, weekly, monthly or even annually for Africa. It is true that there is a Commission, but it has no mandate. The Executive Council made up of Foreign Ministers has nothing to do with health, the environment, industry, and agriculture. This is funny.


According to the Consultative Act, the functions of the Executive Council include trade, agriculture, animal and marine resources. This is also funny because Ministers of Foreign Affairs do not deal with these issues. The Executive council does not meet annually to prepare for the summit and has nothing to do with the issues assigned to it. The Commission, the Executive Council and the PRC are the Secretariat made up of Ministers and Ambassadors of Member States in Addis Ababa. These people are ambassadors and charges d’affaires. We do not expect them to be talking about agriculture, industry, defense, security, African unity and integration. It does not form part of their duties.


The chairperson of the Union is sometimes in the West part of the continent and the commission is in the East part and they only meet during summit meetings. The chairperson of the commission presents a report based on information supplied by the commission alone. The assembly of the union consists of heads of state, with each responsible for his country. The chairpersons are concerned with their countries and have no time to oversee the work of the Union. The chairperson is elected by his people and is therefore the leader of his country. The same thing goes for a minister of Foreign Affairs who is chairperson of the Executive council for a given period. He is Minister of foreign affairs of his country and is therefore concerned with the foreign affairs of his country. He has nothing to do with African foreign affairs as such and the Executive Council as a whole.


We should address this chaos so that the union should have one Authority which will solely be answerable to the Assembly and to the Chairperson of the Union.


We have among the institutions of the Union, the Executive Council established from the very day of the establishment of the African Union, made up of ministers of Foreign Affairs, in recognition of the need for a single African foreign policy. Otherwise, why didn’t we form an executive council for health or an executive council for Agriculture? That means Foreign Affairs is important and we have recognized the need for a single foreign policy.


Secondly, we have NEPAD. We have on a number of occasions decided to integrate it into the Union but have not practically succeeded. We are on our way towards achieving that. As long as NEPAD exists with a Secretariat and management, the Head of NEPAD will deal with foreign trade and international cooperation. NEPAD is our vehicle for contacts with the foreign world in the field of cooperation and assistance to Africa. NEPAD is well known to the world. It deals with efforts to mobilize funds from donors (unfortunately) and for economic relations between Africa and the foreign world.


We have another body called “MAS,” the African Peace and Security Council which deals with defense and security matters. We are seeking to put the cart behind the horse and not as things currently are where the cart is put before the horse and another horse by the right side of the cart and another by its left side. Up to now, there is no cart behind the horse.


We have now a coordinator of foreign affairs chairing the executive Council and being a member of the Authority. We have a coordinator of foreign trade and a secretariat of foreign trade and international cooperation heading the secretariat of NEPAD and being a member of the authority. MAS is the peace and security council, therefore we have a coordinator of defense and security being a member of the authority. These are three members we simply have as part of the existing components of the African Union.


In future, we can add more secretaries and develop the authority further with responsibility for the gradual unification of Africa towards the United States of Africa. This way, we can accomplish our task easily, successfully and within a short span of time.


I have personally discussed the matter with a number of my Brothers, Heads of states and the current chairperson of NEPAD.  I do not think that we shall have any problems. With determination and sincerity towards Africa, this task will be accomplished and we will be able to get out of the bottleneck we have been in for years and breath a sigh of relief. We shall go back home with satisfaction that we have put the train on the right track.


Excerpted from the speech of Col. Muammar Gadaffi, Chairperson of the African Union on the occasion of the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council devoted to the Establishment of the Authority of the Union

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