It Is About Time The African Union Rose To The Occasion

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In as far as the Zimbabwean crisis is concerned, it appears that regardless of the power sharing deal between their Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, and President, Robert Mugabe; the crisis is far from over. The African Union had delegated the former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, to mediate the conflict in that country; however, the situation remained unresolved pending his resignation as the head of the state. Subsequently, the same circumstances resurfaced when the African Union delegated his successor, President Jacob Zuma to mediate the conflict, but to date, it appears that the powers were shared on paper, but the implementation of the deal is far from being over.  What is most concerning to me is that if one looks at how the people from Zimbabwe are suffering from day to day, one will wonder as to whether President Mugabe is still prepared to lead or if he is just exercising his autocracy in a so-called democratic process.

The African Union has been playing a discrete and silent game about Zimbabwe, unaware that the manner, in which they are conducting the whole process, is in a way, harming the normal civilians like you and I.  Instead of them taking harsher steps, their debate is solely based on the United State of Africa, which is perhaps spear-headed by the President of Libya. The international community has made its position on the conduct of Mugabe very clear, saying that they are not going to lift the sanctions leveled against Zimbabwe unless Mugabe is removed as the leader of Zimbabwe. However, the same AU countries that have direct trade investments with the international community in question rose to Zimbabwe’s aid financially on several occasions. Despite Mugabe’s unequivocal stance:  that he is not a “puppet of the international community”, when the AU brother countries comes to his aid with the money that they have sourced from international community, he accepts it with open arms.  This is clearly autocracy and unfounded dictatorship.  In fact, it is a total contradiction on his side.

It is widely known that the main source of conflict in that country is, among other things, over land and mineral resources. As a result, in terms of its economic performance, Zimbabwe is rated one of the poorest performing economies in the world and is in dire need of financial aid. However, the same land and mineral resources that are the cause of conflict are also the resources that need to be mined and processed to rescue the people of Zimbabwe.  Mugabe is not affected by the struggle faced by the civilians and as a result, people are suffering because of his arrogance. The latest news is that the power sharing deal has been sorted out and it needs implementation, however, the Movement for Democratic Change has cited that the critical parliamentary positions have been awarded to Zanu PF parliamentarians. 

But the bone of contention here is that the African Union seems to be relaxed about this issue, proposing that there be a merger in the country’s leadership:  one state one president.  This is going to have indirect financial effects on surrounding countries. One country that it has made itself clear is Botswana, saying that unless Mugabe is removed as the President, it is not going to give Zimbabwe any form of support.  In his recent visit to the United Nations, Mugabe said that he was not going to allow the international community to interfere with the causalities of his country. In my opinion, this was a clear display of arrogance by an old man who does not want to relinquish power; even though he is causing harm to “[his]own people”. 

If one looks at the number of lives that have been sacrificed, the interruption of education and the deteriorating economy of the country, it is clearly a display of crimes against humanity. Many people in Zimbabwe have died from Cholera, and although this is a natural disaster there is a possibility that if Mugabe had conceded some of his power, this would have been averted. In addition to this many Zimbabweans fleeing from the poor economic conditions have sought asylum in neighboring countries, one of which being South Africa. 

This has had strenuous effects on the South African economy and could be attributed to the spur of xenophobic attacks; which resulted in many Zimbabwean casualties.  Yet another harmful display of his arrogance and dictatorship.  Most notably, however, is the questionable nature of the recent Zimbabwean:  arguably a blatant display of disregard for the democratic process.  The failure of the African Union to take action against the ZANU PF-led government for its detaining of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was in itself, I feel, just cause for it to be held accountable by the international community.  Their silence has condoned Mugabe’s dictatorship and subjected innocent people to painstaking conditions.  I wonder if this would be tolerated if it was taking place in the European Unions.

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Maudi Obed Maphutha
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