Open Letter to Chairperson of the African Union Commission. By Robele Ababya
H.E. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma
Chairperson of African Union Commission
African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243
Re: Endemic conflicts, corruption, youth unemployment and civil unrest in Africa
I have the rare honor and privilege to congratulate You on Your election to the exalted post as Chairperson of the African Union Commission, more so that You are the first woman to rise to this lofty position since the creation of the defunct OAU on 25 May 1962 and its successor in Durban on the 9th of July 2002.
I have no doubt that You will be able to discharge given your experience as anti-apartheid activist and a politician who had held ministerial portfolios as Minister of Health under none other the Greatest Statesman of our time, President Nelson Mandela(1994 – 1999); Minister of Foreign Affairs from (17 June 1999 to 10 May 2009), under Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Molanthe; Minister of Home Affairs in the Cabinet of President Jacob Zuma, (May 2009 to 2 October 2012).
Yours was indeed a distinguished service record, which eminently qualified You to be deservedly elected to Your present position on 15 July 2012 and subsequently take office on 15 October 2012 to engage in multiple draconian issues and problems including endemic conflicts, corruption, youth unemployment and civil unrest in Africa – pending unresolved due to mainly dictatorial stance and corrupt practices of most African Heads of State and Government not to mention their incompetency and subservience to foreign interests.
President Nelson Mandela also adoringly called Madiba by his people made peace with his deadly enemies who kept him in prison under harsh conditions for 27 years at Robin Island. He created an all-inclusive Rainbow Nation of which he became its Founding Father and President. He served just one term as President and set the enviable example of transferring power to his successor peacefully. He gave the immortal lesson to African tyrants that lust for power and keeping it for too long would be to their detriment eventually.
The above is in sharp contrast to the divisive dictatorial rule entrenched in Ethiopia by the late tyrant Meles Zenawi since he took power in May 1991. The ethnic-based federal system of government, which is the brainchild of Zenawi, is proving to be a time bomb ready to explode unless checked in time. It is a cancer that must not be allowed to spread to the rest of African states.
The recent hospitalization of the beloved President Nelson Mandela caught the attention not only of the citizens of the RSA but also of the entire internationally community. There wasn’t a single day that renowned media outlets in our global village did not report about him for each and every day he has been in the hospital. Prayers for his recovery were held everywhere. Everyone was concerned that it would be a great loss RSA, the African continent, and the world at large to miss the icon architect of Truth, Peace and Reconciliation, which made him one of the world’s most beloved and recognized statesmen.
The worldwide accolade embellished on Madiba is testimony to the innate desire of people in our global village for leaders endowed with his foresight and impeccable integrity.
Meles Zenawi shunned any notion for holding Truth, Peace and Reconciliation in our troubled country, Ethiopia, despite my pleading with his government in writing to emulate the example of RSA. He chose the roadmap of brinkmanship and reckless political experiment couched in his so-called “Revolutionary Democracy”.
On that historic day of 07 May 2005 before the election on 15 May 2005, a truly mammoth crowd estimated at 2.5 – 3 million inundated the streets and squares of Addis Ababa to support the now defunct Kinijit Party (Coalition for Unity and Democracy). That sea of humanity was acclaimed internationally for its magnificent display of decorum and civility; it ended peacefully without a single incident of violence.
The unprecedented massive support for Kinijit was followed by an unprecedented turn out of massive voters on 15 May 2005 in which the ruling party suffered a humiliating defeat failing to win a single vote in Addis Ababa where the AU Headquarters is located. Tyrant Meles declared a state of emergency and swiftly implemented his plan B that resulted in killing close to 200 peaceful protesters by trained snipers; throwing the victors to filthy prison; incarcerating tens of thousands of opposition supports, mostly young shaving their heads with unsterilized blades without regard to widespread STDs of that time.
What is really shocking is that the African Union which had sent its observers to the above election pronounced the election free and fair and recognized the TPLF party as the winner.
What is even more shocking is that one of the senior diplomats of the AU, Ambassador Patrick Mazimhaka, hailing from Rwanda overstepped diplomatic norms and blamed the opposition in public for the popular unrest in the aftermath of the election. It is a shame that this Rwandan forgot so soon, in the comfort of luxury that dollar-paid diplomats enjoy in Addis Ababa, the close to one million victims of genocide in his country by the Hutu extremists inciting and exacerbating ethnic differences. The TPLF regime used the holocaust as an example in Rwanda to stifle dissent in Ethiopia in the aftermath of election 2005; but the scare didn’t work in a tolerant country, Ethiopia, where unity in diversity had lived in exemplary relative harmony for centuries.
It is bizarre indeed that Ambassador Mazimhaka sided with the brutal TPLF party in the face of condemnation of the state-sponsored atrocities by esteemed international institutions such as the Congress of the United States and prominent leaders in the United Kingdom including Prime Minister Tony Blair. His bias in favor of the ruling clique, even before the start of an independent investigation promised by Meles to the international community, is confounding and disappointing. It was bad news to those of us in Diaspora who want to return home to escape being victims of xenophobia and to the Ethiopian people who are fervently praying to avert the prospect of enduring another five years under the wicked rule of the TPLF despotic regime.”
In the subsequent Ethiopian election of 2010 the ruling party claimed 99.6% ‘win’ of the 547 parliamentary seats. The European Observer Mission decried the election process as not free and fair; the White House endorsed the ruling of the Mission. But the AU Observer Team declared free and fair!!
The dismal performance of the African Union, since its establishment officially in Durban on the 9th of July 2002, is a burning issue especially to genuine intellectuals who have the interests of Africa at heart and the young generation who see their future blighted due to rampant corruption, inept leadership, contagious dictatorial rule and robbery of votes set in motion by the TPLF regime and spreading for example to Kenya and Zimbabwe whose leaders sought to emulate the method applied by Meles Zenawi in the aftermath of the 15 May 2005 Ethiopian election. It is my contention that failure on the part of the AU Leadership to condemn the illegitimate regime of Meles set a bad precedence ushering in an era of instability and abject poverty in countries under despotic rulers.
To be fair to the defunct OAU performed beyond expectations, against many odds, in fuelling the liberation struggle giving birth to independent states.
It makes me proud as it does millions of my fellow citizens that the Headquarters of the OAU was decided to be located in the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, founded by Emperor Menelik II – the Victor of the Battle of Adwa over Italy. This convincing victory over the evil forces of Italy in its own right became the beacon of hope for all black people in the Diaspora instilling hope, inspiration and confidence to their struggle for freedom and independence. The seat of the OAU in our capital city is a living tribute also to the foresight and arduous work of Emperor Haile Selassie.
Unfortunately, Addis Ababa of today has become a jungle of immorality comprising tall buildings and slums; a terrifying dwelling place for thousands of homeless due to inordinate evictions, drug addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals, pimps, street dwellers, beggars, nude dancers, army of unemployed youth, undercover human traffickers, licensed cheap labor exporters to Arab countries and other dehumanizing habits all in full view of the corrupt former so-called first lady Azeb Mesfin, her late husband and his successor. The Capital City would have been a green City envy of the world, but that opportunity has been lost by denuding it of its forest comprising enviable biodiversity and polluting its several rivers in the last 21 years the TPLF regime has been in power.
I should add that the AU Headquarters built by China as a ‘gift’ for the African continent is an eye soar standing tall as a symbol of beggary and betrayal of self-reliance. It demonstrates the failure of AU leaders to mobilize 200 million US dollars in contribution from member states and build one of our own with African characteristics employing African architects, engineers and other qualified professionals required for the job. This is in my sincere opinion a serious issue that needs to be resolved and use the present building for other purposes.
Ethiopia became a founding member of the United Nations when Emperor Haile Selassie was at the helm of power. His Majesty was loyal to the UN and OAU Charters to the core. As part of commitment to Collective Security under the UN elite Ethiopian battalions were sent to Korea and Congo where they received glowing accolades for their professional acumen; a small military contingent was sent to Nigeria during the civil war incited by Biafra seeking cessation; the Emperor dispatched the Air Force to assist President Nyerere when the unity of Tanzania was threatened by an uprising in Zanzibar. Several liberation movement fighters including the distinguished Statesman Nelson Mandela were trained in Ethiopia
Ethiopians are proud for the significant contribution their country had made to the noble struggle against colonialism and to the cause of unity when that is threatened by internal strife. But despite the fact that Ethiopia sacrificed her meager resources to help others gain their independence and maintain their territorial integrity in keeping with the OAU Charter, not a single member of the Organization whispered a word in public when Eritrea ceded from Ethiopia leaving it a land-locked country. Those who said anything in private blamed the cessation on the ruling TPLF regime who strongly solicited for that to happen.
The young generation has lost trust in the AU Leadership for all the reasons stated in the foregoing paragraphs. Arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings of peaceful protesters, state-monopoly of all pillars of democracy, rampant corruption, high unemployment and wastage of money on security forces as in the case of Ethiopia as one of the worst examples have dashed the hope of young generation to live in a prosperous and democratic continent endowed with enormous natural resources. The scramble by external powers for these resources is too obvious to state. The pervasive influence of neo-colonialism is being felt, but leaders have not prepared our citizens to counter it. With all due respect, the fault lies with the AU Leadership for failing to promote democratic culture and expedite the advent of a strong collaborative union in the best interest of all the citizens of the AU member States.
In a nutshell, the OAU after the demise of Emperor Haile Selassie and its successor the AU became platforms for the late dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi to project himself as the Monarch in waiting for the African continent.
The onset of mass protest movement in Ethiopia and the split among top leaders of the TPLF party is already posing a grave danger to regional stability unless AU acts immediately to avert the catastrophe wrought by the party. TPLF is a terrorist entity which was included as such in the Global Terrorism Database compiled by the USA. As it were, old habits die hard. So, the Ethiopian Television under the monopoly of the TPLF has, against court order, unleashed a vitriolic attack on the Muslim Community leaders via a documentary film titled “Jihadawi Harekat” on a case sub judice in the High Court. The documentary is a despicable charade meant to scare the gallant Muslim Community which has admirably been demanding for their constitutional right peacefully for over a year.
The last election in Kenya claimed the death of 1500 Kenyans not to mention IDPs numbering hundreds of thousands all due to ethnic conflicts. Yet, the AU Observer Team declared that election free and fair. There is fear that the same horrible thing may be repeated in the impending election in Kenya in March 2013 unless the AU Team is irresolutely impartial. This is why President Obama is warning Kenyans to avoid violence.
I hope that Your Excellency’s leadership will rectify the grave shortcomings of the AU written above. I plead with You to all in Your power to stem arbitrary arrests and tortures of political leaders, human rights activists and journalists in Ethiopia and to call for their immediate prisoners including Andualem Aragie, Eskinder Nega, Bekele Gerba, Reeyot Alemu, Leaders of the Ethiopian Muslims et al!