AU ECOSOCC Secretariat: The Call for Reforms

Published on 3rd July 2018

Rather than state that the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC) has failed in its mandate since 2004, this version is truer: A failed and sinecure CIDO department of the AUC has been allowed to micromanage a vital organ of the Union to the detriment of African citizens.

AU ECOSOCC is the organ uniquely mandated to channel the aspirations of the African Citizenry for the "Africa We Want," specifically tasked with the implementation of Agenda 2063, and to build vibrant public-private partnerships toward these ends.

African Heads of State constituting the General Assembly and apex body of the AU decided to this effect: The AU Economic, Social, and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC) should have its own Secretariat.

This authoritative and binding decision takes into consideration the practical fact that the organ cannot actualize its mandate and fullest potential without its own Secretariat. Attempts to stop the clock on this advancement, cloud and confuse the issue are nothing short of rearranging musical chairs at the deck of the titanic for the same dance - nothing changes: plus a change, plus c'est la mme chose.

The ship may sink at the expense of AU ECOSOCC and the citizens of Africa. The centerpiece of any reform of the organ, therefore, must begin with the crucial examination of the continued presence of CIDO serving as the Secretariat of AU ECOSOCC.

In 2012, the AU Audit Reform determined that CIDO is abnormally assuming the functions of AU ECOSOCC, overstepping its bounds and encroaching into the executive matters of the organ.

In a fashion that would be comical like an emperor without clothing, the staff directors of CIDO style themselves as such: Head of ECOSOCC Secretariat. Well, in full folly of grandiosity, when there is no title of that manner, the long-standing politicking infected and paralyzed the organ. So how does reform begin by addressing symptoms and not the cause?

AU ECOSOCC needs to become a strong organ, not one strong-armed by jesters. By any reasonable practice, it is unfair to assess the organ based on the malfeasance of a department of another organ. CIDO as the clerical Secretariat (without executive powers), should take directives from the AU ECOSOCC Standing Committee; not the other way around.

The role reversal with CIDO's posturing has been the single most disastrous impediment to the performance of AU ECOSOCC.

Another salient point for reform is respect for the AU ECOSOCC General Assembly as the apex body that supervises the Standing Committee and reports to the African Heads of State. Without enforcing this due process, mockery is made of the organ with de facto and unaccountable practices.

The General Assembly of the AU ECOSOCC is vested with the power to make decisions for the organ. This broken part needs immediate repairs. The organ has enough accomplished experts with current elected members who are not on the Standing Committee, former officers, and cluster chairs with institutional memory - yet monies are spent to fly in experts to impose their ideas on duly elected Members? Who is paying for all of these? Dues from Member States or foreign donors?

The organ cannot function if Members of the General Assembly just meet as a committee of the whole to vote and sometimes with no meaningful understanding of the candidates' principles, commitment or the agenda in general. The Members represent their national, regional and continent-wide constituencies in their Member States and in the Diaspora. The citizens need to interface with them directly in order for the organ to translate its mandate to solutions that are relevant to the lives of African citizens.

When it comes to the Diaspora that is responsible for the more than $200 billion that flows annually to the informal and informal economies in Africa, all the experts and CIDO cannot determine or dictate methods of contributions or able to marshall the resources. First of all, Member State Diaspora Affairs is under Member State sovereignty.

Futile attempts to enact tried and failed methods would only mean that the AU will continue to be irrelevant and disconnected (as the AU Institutional Reform indicated) from a vital segment of its citizens and not realize any of its Diaspora goals on domestic resource mobilization, which are sorely needed by Member States and the Regional Economic Communities.

Records bear testimonies to the reality that CIDO process and assembled experts, even those who gathered to produce the Global African Diaspora Summit in 2012, have not  managed to come up with any functioning project to this day. Much Ado About Nothing, All Sound Signifying Nothing predetermined all the reports provided to the AU on the Diaspora. More exactly: they do not lend themselves to evidence-based policy. This is a statement of verifiable fact.

Conclusively, rather than state that the AU ECOSOCC has failed in its mandate since 2004, this version is truer: A failed and sinecure CIDO department of the AUC has been allowed to micromanage a vital organ of the Union to the detriment of African citizens.

Reform is not cosmetics nor an expedient trip.

An independent ECOSOCC Secretariat is the start of the reform. This independence does not necessarily mean moving immediately to Zambia. In the interim, it means accommodating facilities for ECOSOCC, its own staff, experts or advisors to manage its own activities to deliver results that accrue to the benefit of African citizens. Only then can the organ be fairly assessed.

African Union Citizen.

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