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African presidents conspiring against Africa

By Tanonoka Joseph Whande

For many years, there have been countries that the world, including that omnipotent organisation, the United Nations, viewed as oppressive, dictatorial and seriously devoid of the smallest spec of democratic intent. 

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Tanonoka Joseph Whande

Among such countries are Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Even today, these countries have little semblance of what a free, democratic society should be like. One of the panels, councils or commissions the United Nations established was the United Nations Panel on Human Rights.

The purpose of this particular panel was that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.

The UN says the General Assembly “can suspend the rights and privileges of any Council/panel member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights…”

I guess in the eyes of the UN, Zimbabwe does not fall into this category.

It, therefore, did not come as a surprise when, in 2006, the United Nations appointed, to this panel, the world’s worst human rights abusers: Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This was a sick joke that the United Nations played on the world.

Zimbabwe welcomed these nations to be arbiters and monitors of democracy because Robert Mugabe knew he was in good company.

This expensive and ridiculous joke was later re-created by the Southern African Development Community when it made Swaziland’s Mswati the Chairperson of the so-called Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

It does not help that those same people who are inflicting abuse on us are supposed to be the same ones curing us.

How much respect do you give a doctor who breaks your legs with a hoe handle and then purposely plays surgeon as he attends to the amputation of those same legs he deliberately broke?

But the world community was not done with its dangerous contradictions. Just last year in August, the United Nations was back in the news as it vigorously tried to defend itself for endorsing last July’s disputed elections at a time when there were outcries from just about every quarter, including SADC and other governments in the region.

The UN went on to hold an international tourism summit at Victoria Falls, “which took place in the weeks after the disputed electoral ‘victory’ by ZANU PF”.

Such behavior coming from the world body lends credence to the accusations that the United Nations is not a true, honest and impartial arbiter of disputes among member nations at loggerheads.

This weakens the organization and lowers people’s expectations of protection. It also sends wrong signals to those governments and tyrants that are abusing people around the world. The UN, in effect, becomes an accomplice in the abuse of people it is supposed to be protecting.

The UN, of all organisations, must have zero tolerance for abusive dictators; it is its own witness as to the endless problems and deaths caused by these errant countries and their leaders.

The UN must also remember that other organisations look up to it and want to work with them to alleviate people’s suffering.

How does a human rights organization involved in exposing a government or a leader who murders and abuses people work with the UN when the UN itself embraces the very people being reported to it for human rights abuses?

Continental and regional groupings, like the African Union and SADC, are already copying the contradictions the UN seems to be championing.

Earlier this year, the credibility of the African Union came under scrutiny after the continental body appointed Mugabe to be First Vice-Chair of the reportedly influential AU executive council – a not so subtle indication of who will be taking over the AU chairmanship next year.

How do well-meaning African nations work with the AU to bring sanity to Zimbabwe if the AU itself deems Mugabe as a man to lead a continent so much bedeviled by the kind of atrocities, corruption, human rights violations that the AU itself espouses to be working to eradicate?

And it is not Mugabe alone; it is any other errant African leader the AU would be obligated to approach and encourage to follow acceptable leadership codes that protect the people on the continent.

In the SADC region, Botswana and South Africa have directly suffered from Mugabe’s ill-advised economic and political policies. The two countries have seen daily influxes of Zimbabweans who cross the borders for both economic and political sanctuary.

Only last Friday did Gwede Mantashe, the Secretary General of South Africa’s African National Congress, publicly concede that Zanu PF destroyed the economy of their country.

“”In 1980,” he said, “the value of the Zimbabwe dollar was R1,50 and today it has no value. It is a massive destruction of the economy. I do not want South Africa’s economy to collapse.”

Meanwhile, other SADC countries suffer in silence presumably because they hold Mugabe in high regard.

Not to be outdone in the perpetration of contradictions, SADC will in August this year move their tea-party junkets to Victoria Falls where Mugabe will be hosting them all.

The Victoria Falls was the UN’s scene of the crime last year and here comes SADC, in the UN’s footsteps.

The summit, to be attended by regional Heads of State, will see Mugabe taking over the chairmanship of SADC while, at the same time, he is almost assured of taking the AU chairmanship next year, effectively giving Mugabe total control of Africa’s key leadership institutions.

What does this say about the collective quality of Africa’s leaders? In spite of public posturing, all Africa’s leaders know the havoc Mugabe has caused in both Zimbabwe and Africa yet, like newly born blind puppies they behave in a manner that is not of benefit to Zimbabwe or Africa.

The heart of the matter is that the African Union and SADC must, of necessity, separate themselves from presidents and adopt priorities that prevent friction between nations.

The people, not presidents, must be their constituents.

They must stop wars; must prevent conflict and must act with firmness and fairness.

They must take Africa’s problems seriously.

Africa is burdened with a plethora of problems and yet these organisations spend all their time preening and massaging dictators’ egos.

African leaders feel threatened by human rights; they are afraid of the rule of law.

Both the AU and SADC are not serving the interests of the continent if they allow this attitude to prevail. They should shed the image of accommodating dictators at the expense of the abused people.

Somewhere in Africa this week, there is an outbreak of Ebola and Ebola is a continent wide serious issue. Given the easy movement of people among nations, this is of concern to every government in the world.

I would not be surprised if some of these morons refuse to travel to Washington for a summit to discuss how best their countries can be assisted to further develop, demanding that they will not go to get financial aid for their suffering people unless Mugabe, who is busy making his own people suffer, is invited.

Such are the leaders of Africa.

The whole of Africa is at the mercy of its leaders.

Both SADC and the AU can afford to play such fatal games with a continent and its people because they believe the British, the French, the Americans and other European nations will almost always certainly come to the rescue.

It seems to me as if African leaders are deliberately keeping Africa in an endless twirl of problems for their own selfish reasons.

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