African opposition parties need to form a shadow African Union

It has now become an open secret that the African Union (AU) is nothing more than a dictators' club, which seeks to serve and protect the interests of those in power, at the expense of the suffering ordinary people, and as such, there is need for an 'alternative', whose collective voice can be heard by the international community.

africaAs long as the continents’ leaders stand together against a divided and disorganised people, there can never be any hope that the lot of the suffering Africans will ever be resolved.

The world has helplessly witnessed countless wars, conflicts, genocides, repression of dissenting voices, and fraudulent elections, as they have placed unwarranted and undeserved faith in the AU to take remedial action.

However, true to nature, the AU has merely paid lip-service to these problems, resulting in the continued suffering of the people of Africa, whilst these leaders lavishly enjoy the fruits of their repression.

How many lives could have been saved on the continent had there been an effective AU?

If the AU had seriously intervened in the Zimbabwean crisis as far back as 1982, when it became clear that the ZANU PF government was bent on massacring the Ndebele people of that country, would 50,000 innocent souls have been killed?

Another 50,000 lives could have been saved had the AU swiftly intervened in South Sudan in 2013, when it became apparent that the ‘marriage of convenience’ between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar was headed for a very bloody divorce.

When Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza was flirting with the idea of running for a very unpopular and an unconstitutional third term in 2015, should the AU not have intervened so as to avoid the needless deaths of over 500 people, and the displacement of over 200,000 refugees?

As I write this OpEd, Zimbabwe is on the brink of a disaster, as the suffering people are angry due to gross mismanagement of the country by the ZANU PF regime, and their efforts to the constitutionally-enshrined right to peacefully protest are being met by brute force by law enforcement agents.

Their efforts for meaningful electoral reforms are being ignored by the government, except for a few piecemeal changes that do not improve much – a situation that will inevitably result in another contested election result in 2018, that will surely aggravate the already tense situation.

In spite of this potential implosion in Zimbabwe, the AU is apathetic to the whole situation.

As happened in Zimbabwe in 2008, the continental body, and its regional ally – the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – they will wait until people start being killed, for them to act, yet the crisis would have been apparent several years before.

The repressed and suffering people of the continent can not afford to wait anymore by placing their faith in a body that has clearly failed them.

In fact, had there been an alternative – and it is an idea worth pondering – African people would have clamoured for a massive Afrexit – a collective exit from this anti-people organisation.

However, the most practical solution, for the time being, would be for all opposition parties to establish a shadow African Union, which would seek legitimacy from the international community, and whose voice would be taken seriously at such fora as the United Nations (UN).

I do not think this idea is too idealistic, as already the idea of shadow cabinets is accepted in most democratic countries, and their voices taken seriously.

Similarly, during the liberation struggles of countries, mainly in the Southern African region, liberation movements came together in what was termed the ‘authentic’ group.

In late January 1969, leaders of seven liberation movements met in Khartoum, Sudan, at a

conference to bring them to work together.

These movements were the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo), Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union (ZAPU), South West People’s Organisation (Swapo), African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), PAIGG of Guinea and Cape Verde, and MOLINACO of the Comoros.

These groups became partners, called ‘the natural allies’, and were the ‘authentic’ liberation movements of Africa – guided and united by a genuine desire for independence and their struggle against colonialism and neo-colonialism, imperialism and exploitation of man by man.

They were opposed to tribalism, regionalism, divisionism and racialism, insisting that the enemy was not necessarily white.

These movements were able to act and speak with a stronger voice for the subjugated people of Africa, as well as secure resources as a united front.

Such unity enabled the more effective conducting of the liberation struggles of these countries, as no single movement stood alone as an island, but had the backing of the others.

Such a strong voice brought the struggle of the African people into the limelight, and drew the attention of international bodies, thereby placing more weight on these struggles.

The same approach can be adopted by current opposition parties, who – similar to the 1960s – are today’s liberation movements.

Admittedly, not all opposition parties on the continent serve the interests of the people, but discretion can always be used in determining who becomes part of this shadow AU, but every effort could be put in making sure that all African countries are represented on the body.

The people of Africa have suffered a great deal, without any respite in sight, whilst those in power plan and scheme on how to hold on to power.

They need a stronger and more united African voice to genuinely stand up for their rights, and it is time that the opposition stepped in and boldly represented the interests of the people of Africa, against a leadership that has abandoned them.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his own capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to WhatsApp/call: +263782283975, or email: [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @Tendai_Mbofana

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