Members of the five-year-old African Union have begun floating the idea of a single continental government, somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between the EU and the US. Advocates call the pan-African government the only solution to the legacy of colonialism on the continent. Unfortunately, those leaders who back it are the ones Africa needs least:
Southern and East African leaders have rejected plans to set up a pan-African government, as suggested by Libya’s head of state Col Muammar Gaddafi. …
Some of the 50 leaders at the African Union (AU) summit in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, fear the issue will push the crises in Zimbabwe, Somalia and Darfur off the agenda.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said unity was vital to make the continent truly independent of the West, as he spoke to a crowd of cheering Ghanaians.
“Unless we put our act together… and start pooling our resources together, we will never, ever prosper from any aid from any source outside Africa,” President Mugabe said on Sunday in a speech at the tomb of Ghana’s first president.
This probably falls into the category of right message, very wrong messengers. If the nations of Africa could unite in an economic and political confederation of some sort, it might alleviate the constant warring between the nations on the continent — but that might be putting the cart before the horse. Much of the war in Africa causes the economic and political fractures, and in most cases comes from tribal conflicts. That’s not a legacy of colonialism, but the result of stubborn tradition. If the various tribes cannot settle their difference under the construct of statehood, then a pan-African government would probably make the problem worse, not better.
In any case, the leaders least likely to instill confidence in a continental government would be Moammar Ghaddafi and Robert Mugabe. Both hardly qualify as enlightened leaders. Ghaddafi runs one of the most paranoid dictatorships in the world, although he has mellowed somewhat since giving up his nuclear-weapons program. Mugabe has turned Zimbabwe from a breadbasket to a wasteland in a single generation, thanks to his insane economic policies. Inflation has gotten so bad there that traders refuse to buy and sell Zimbabwe’s currency.
Neither man should be in charge of a neighborhood watch program, and yet they want to be the leaders of a continental government. Given their proclivity for personal aggrandization at the expense of their already-unfortunate subjects, this looks like nothing more than a naked power grab, a chance for both to realize personal power over any benefit to Africa.
So far, their colleagues aren’t buying it. Some nations want to pursue the plan anyway, figuring that the balkers will eventually accede. The nations of Africa would be better advised to reform their politics within the existing national borders, and to hasten the exit of incompetent and brutal dictators before allowing them a path to greater abuses and personal enrichment.