A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
WORKING GROUP ON AFRICAN UNION
1 March 2002
SEMINAR ON AFRICAN UNION
Chairperson: The Speaker
Constitutive Act of the African Union
Draft Summary Report on AU Seminar
Department of Foreign Affairs briefing [document awaited]
Africa Institute of South Africa and Department of Foreign Affairs briefed the Committee on the African Union. Important issues raised were the need for civil society input into the formation of the African Union. The protection of human rights and a consideration for women's issues was also discussed, as were South Africa's involvement as the host of the summit in July and the role it would play in the future development of the African Union. Of particular concern was the uncertain role that the pan-African parliament appeared to play in the African Union.
Introduction by the Speaker
The Speaker stated that the purpose of the meeting was to equate parliament with the African Union (AU) and its implications and to engage parliament in the process of building and shaping the AU. In July South Africa would assume the presidency of the AU and this was a unique opportunity for South Africa and a challenge to the continent as a whole to build a new unifying body. The dream of a united body went back in time and also across the ocean as it was a dream believed in by all people of black origin.
The Speaker sketched the background to the formation of the AU, which went back to the 1960's. 1960 was a year of dramatic change for South Africa when the banning of the liberation movements was announced. Three years later the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was established. Its objectives were liberation, unity and protection of newly won sovereignty. In 1970 the concept of unity became underpinned by economic co-operation. In 1994 the liberation of South Africa brought almost to an end another major aspiration of the OAU. Thereafter a debate ensued on the future of the OAU and the AU was born out of the debate.
The AU shifted the focus of the OAU; unity was not merely an aspiration, independence was not merely sovereignty but was underpinned by good governance and development and political stability, all of which were the pillars upon which to build continental unity. Although the concept of the AU had been criticised by the media, it was better to regard it as a challenge and to engage in the process of its formation. That was the purpose behind the day's exercise. Parliaments around the world are concerned by the fact that constitutions require them to ratify international instruments but the first time that parliament became aware of the document was when it was tabled before them. By that stage the negotiation process had been going on for years and it was too late for parliament not to agree to it. It was therefore necessary for parliament to become involved at the negotiation stage. Although the negotiations themselves were clearly the responsibility of the executive, parliament still played the role of advising government and providing input. This was important as the different parts of the AU become operative. It was important for people at large to become involved in the process. The AU envisaged a program in this regard and aimed at stimulating work within civil society.
Parliament had invited the media to participate in the meeting and to engage in the process of shaping the AU. This would be done on a non-attributable basis so that a discussion could be engaged in.
The Speaker announced the first presenter, Dr Eddy Maloka, of the Africa Institute of South Africa.
Africa Institute of South Africa
Dr Maloka began by summarising the three main points he would be focussing on: the ideological framework, the phases followed and the critical challenges that would be faced.
One of the common elements of the ideological framework was the idea of pan-africanism. This sense or movement captured the feeling of Africans that they share a common descent and destiny and had been captured in poetry and speeches. Another element was that of a common historical experience being slavery, colonisation and decolonisation, followed by their combined opposition to slavery, colonialism and racism. In addition, there had been a sense among Africans of some "new" Africa about to come into being which had led to the idea of an African Renaissance and the concept of Africa as a sleeping giant. There had been a lot of discussion of the African Renaissance. The simple approach was based on five pillars: the political pillar of democracy and human rights, peace and stability, development and the eradication of poverty, affirming African culture and the need for Africa to be taken seriously as a global trading partner.
The African renaissance as such was a vision statement that was to be implemented through institutions and organisations, a programme of action (Nepad), leadership and mass participation. Since the independence of African countries, four stages had taken place. First the 1960's, with the formation of the OAU at a time when African leadership was divided. Then the end of the 1970's with the Monrovia declaration, which led to the Lagos plan of action, at a time when the continent was divided by the cold war. This period ended with the end of the 1980's, which was considered to be a lost decade for Africa. This was followed by the Abuja Treaty period, which was characterised by regional structure for Africa and listed six detailed stages to be covered over a period of 34 years. This in turn has led to the current period of politically driven regional integration, which was now posing a big challenge for South Africa.
The process was currently in a transitional phase with the different organs and rules of procedure listed in the Constitutive Act of the AU still having to be put in place. It was important to make sure that the AU was a summit and not secretariat driven mechanism which focussed not as much on political considerations as the problems experienced by people today. The Chairperson of the summit had an important role to play. Currently the Chair was held by Zambia, the legitimacy of which government is questionable. When South Africa takes over the Chair, the question to be focussed on would be what to do to achieve certain objectives and that was the purpose behind the convening of the seminar.
Dr Moloka then listed the main differences between the AU and the OAU. The principle of non-inteference and sovereignty were retained in the AU but qualified by Article 4(h), which permitted the AU to interfere in certain specific situations. In this regard, more definition was needed to clarify some of the terms used. Secondly, the Constitutive Act of the AU specified that governments which came into power unconstitutionally would not be able to able to become a member of the AU. This area was not without problems but these should be seen as challenges.
An important difference between the OAU and the AU was that whereas the OAU Charter focussed on the notion of state security, the AU Charter addressed issues relating to human security, such as poverty and under-development. Like the South African Constitution, the Charter protected socio-economic as well as political rights. The rules of procedure however, made no provision for civil society participation and a big challenge to be faced was how to engage the people. Provision had been made for this when the South African Constitution was drafted but it would be difficult to implement this on a continent-wide basis. Other challenges were that the countries themselves had been penetrated by donor money and the policies advocated by these NGO's and civil society organisations were not necessarily those of the majority of the population. The Charter for the AU also placed a strong emphasis on democracy and human rights principles.
Dr Moloka concluded by referring to three further points of consideration. Member states need to popularise the AU document amongst their peoples so that it escaped from the top-down approach that it currently took. Secondly, the security machinery of the AU was not directly referred to in the Constitutive Act, although it was included in the draft protocol. The SADC and other Regional Economic Communities (REC) had their own peace and security mechanisms and the question now was how to incorporate the various divisions. The last point concerned the African Charter on human and people's rights. There is doubt regarding its status as well as that of the African Court of Human rights, and this needed to be resolved.
Mr Mzizi (ANC) commented that the OAU had been largely funded by the UN and therefore tended to reflect policies held by that body. Would the AU continue to do the same?
Ms F Hajaig (ANC) questioned how soon and how important was it to put a pan-african parliament in place.
Mr R Dennis (ANC) stated that the Abuja phase had represented economic integration for Africa while the AU phase represented political integration. Was the AU still going to meet the Abuja targets set for 2025? This in turn contrasted with Nepad's focus on government issues and international relations. What was the vision of economic intergration?
Mr B L Geldenhuys (NNP) questioned the AU's intention of implementing political and then economic integration. He preferred the Abuja Treaty, which put economic unity before political unity.
The Deputy Speaker was unhappy about the fact that the people on the ground appeared to have been left out of the process. Even parliament was only being given a clear understanding of the AU after the process had reached its final stages. She felt that a better process could be followed to make the people of South Africa play a more significant role in the formation of the AU.
A member asked for Dr Moloka's understanding of Article 3, which referred to the objective of defending sovereignty. What was meant by "defend" and how did this fit in with the principle under article 4(g) of non-interference?
Questions were raised by a member as to the AU's response to the civil wars being experienced in Africa, its position on the AIDS epidemic and foreign investors drawing on African resources.
A member agreed with the emphasis of the AU on the security of people but he was unsure as to how the principle of territorial sovereignty would work in conjunction with the need to soften borders and promote greater integration.
The Speaker commented that while Dr Moloka was able answer questions, everyone else should feel free to make suggestions and provide answers.
An ANC member asked how the AU was going to ensure human rights and respect for women especially with regard to some countries in Africa, which still enforce Shariah law.
An opposition member stressed that in striving for unity, it was important not to undermine individual state responsibility. The African renaissance was a continental concept that gives the appearance of taking responsibility away from government with respect to the people who elected them. African renaissance should begin in places like Khayalitsha and KwaMashu and not some vague concept somewhere in Africa.
Dr Moloka spoke on the relationship between and politically and economically driven agreement. The framework set out in the Abuja Treaty was realistic and 34 years was enough time to implement it. The OAU secretariat had emphasised that the Abuja Treaty was not dead, although in practice it appeared to be. In theory, the AU's constitutive Act would have to be read in conjunction with the Abuja Treaty. By contrast, the EU was only now discussing the political implications of economically-driven unity. The question was raised if it should be the same in Africa. Although African countries continued to have great visions, the fact was that they were not developed. Challenges would have to be faced and South Africa would have a major role to play in this regard. However, South Africa did not have a conceptual and political approach to this and there was an ongoing debate that South Africa was being utilised rather than utilising.
Dr Moloka replied to the balance of sovereignty by saying that it was necessary to circumscribe principles of sovereignty and non-interference. It was necessary to have a practical approach to enable the AU to intervene in certain circumstances, but the precise nature of this approach would have to be defined at a later stage. Regarding the pan-African parliament, he said that if it were to be established during South Africa's tenure as the Chair of the summit, it would be a great victory. Other issues raised by members were issues for debate and would be raised before the commission.
The Speaker added that the African Economic Treaty and the Abuja Treaty were still valid. The Sirte Declaration of 1999, which announces the formation of the AU, lists as an objective the acceleration of the implementation of inter alia the Abuja Treaty. The intention was clearly to build the economy under the political umbrella of the AU.
She added that the AOU had been funded by contributions from members and so would the AU. Donor funds would be used to promote certain projects. The Rules of Procedure detailed the action to be taken with regard to states under suspicion, i.e. for example, in situations where a coup takes place or the legitimacy of a government is in question. The Rules would be finalised in June but had gone through the formal agreement phase.
On the topic of women, she said that the reality was that women were not represented at all in a number of African parliaments and executives. Nonetheless, the Constitutive Act of the AU demands that women be included in the delegations from each state. One could only wait and see if member states complied with the regulation. The threat of expulsion had worked with regard to the SADC, however, the fact of being represented in government would not change conditions in those countries.
An opposition member asked how would it be possible for an ordinary person to approach the court of justice with a case concerning, for example, state abuse of human rights and how would a decision of the court be enforced. Secondly, how would the various organs of the AU work together and with individual state departments.
An opposition member pointed out that the AU seemed to be merely a governmental tool and that parliament had a minimal role to play. It was important for South Africans to define the role they were going to play and to recognise that the rest of Africa would be trying to figure out how to deal with South Africa.
An ANC member pointed out that the Constitutive Act was not gender blind and continued to utilise the old term of "chairman". She was discomforted because the SADC regulations require at least 30% of all structures to be composed of women, however the AU Constitutive Act requires only 1 out of every 5 person delegation to be a woman. There was a campaign at the moment to increase the number of women to 50% as women formed the majority in every population in the world.
An ANC member pointed out that the rules regarding suspension of a member were very strict. However, a state need only be a member of the OAU to become a member of the AU, but looking at the list of members, it was clear that some already qualified to be suspended. If the AU did not have a strong start, how would it continue?
An ANC member enquired as to what programs were being put in place to mobilise civil society participation in terms of the AU.
Dr Moloka replied that most of the points raised should rather be brought before the commission. He suggested that parliament organise a committee to act as a check on the executive during the tenure as Chairperson of the summit. There were lots of big challenges to be faced, for example its reaction to the Zimbabwean situation, and what should be done about those countries that did not have a constitution.
Regarding the gender issue he said that the issue would be discussed at the next summit. The access of ordinary people was going to be a big problem. Another issue was the fact that South Africa had not yet ratified the African Charter on human and people's rights. In summary, a big challenge to be faced would be the role that South Africa would play and the role of parliament in holding the executive to account.
Adv J De Lange (ANC) commented on the question concerning access to the court. He said that the protocol of the African Court provides that each country decide for itself if and how it would allow individuals to take the state to court. This issue was therefore left to the state's discretion.
The meeting adjourned and on re-commencement, the Deputy Speaker assumed the role of Chairperson and introduced Liezel Castleman from the Department of Foreign Affairs to provide an analysis on the AU.
Department of Foreign Affairs
Ms Castleman stated that it was imperative to have the various core organs of the AU in place before the meeting in June and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was working very hard to meet the deadlines. Several parallel processes had been started in South Africa, such as workshops to engage civil society and NGO participation in trying to work out the rule of procedure for the AU. On the SADC level, road-shows were trying to bring across national ideals and the relationship between the AU and Nepad to the people on the ground. The SADC were also taking a pro-active role in promoting the AU on a sub-regional level and in the drafting of the rules of procedure. Issues still left outstanding were those regarding the election of officials and the hosting of the other organs of the AU in South Africa.
South Africa would be the proud host of the inaugural summit meeting. Hosting was usually predetermined for a number of years and southern Africa would continue to host the summit for the next eight years. The chairmanship would also be held by SADC countries for the next years. Other countries had expressed definite sensitivities on this issue. There were some delays in the process, especially with regard to the development of procedures and this was partly because related to the decision to hold the summits in the SADC.
The AU's Commission would carry out the functions of a secretariat. The intention was for the Commission to be very streamlined. Contentious issues focussed on the powers and functions of the secretariat and to what extent states may interfere in the affairs of another state.
Other questions were whether South Africa would be prepared to put forward candidates for other senior positions. Once these potential candidates were identified, it would be taken to SADC level. Regional representation would play a major role in the AU and sub-regional groups need to co-ordinate their efforts.
The central organ of the AU would be the peacekeeping mechanism. This would be a major vehicle for the AU in ensuring political stability across the continent.
Mr Mzizi (ANC) was concerned by the number of commissions that seemed to be mushrooming. He asked for greater clarity on the financial considerations of the AU.
An ANC member was concerned by the fact that a chair of the commission could not be re-appointed if he was doing a good job, and what were the financial implications of hosting organs of the AU. Also, what were the nature of the outreach programs in other states?
Adv J De Lange (ANC) said that, in his opinion, the AU would not be a magical new structure that appeared out of nothing in July. It seemed more like taking an existing structure and transforming it into something new. The modalities of the transition need to be worked out, but those did not appear to be clear. Regarding the central organ, he questioned why the African parliament was left out of the process. The central organ was a vital structure that would work closely with the UN Security Council and he was concerned that the OAU would go to the AU with a proposal regarding this.
Ms Castleman replied that technically, everything was on track for the launching of the summit in July. The SADC point of view was that it wanted the Ministers to decide now on the Rules of Procedure, but that this did not impact the launch itself. At present, the chairperson could be appointed for a period of 4 years with a renewable contract. This may have the effect of losing a good person but this would also ensure the loss of a bad chairperson. There was a built-in procedure to ensure that the chairperson would deliver. The SADC did not want a political head to head the Commission. It was important to place someone with strong administrative skills in that position. A board would be set up to appoint people on merit. Even the ordinary staff of the commission would have to reapply for their jobs in order to ensure deliverance.
On the question of outreach programs, Ms Castleman stated that states bore the onus of familiarising their populations with the AU. It was a daunting task and would mostly take the form of an advertising campaign.
Regarding the hosting of organs of the AU, the SADC had decided to host one of the financial institutions of the AU. In addition, the SADC had proposed a list of criteria that should be met by a state offering to host an organ of the AU.
Concerning the central organ, the Constitutive Act and the Rules of Procedure state that the Assembly may establish a central organ. This was not intended to be the central organ of the OAU but rather, a completely new organ. A meeting would be held by the Ministers in March to discuss this issue.
An ANC member enquired about the objections raised against South Africa hosting the AU summit.
Ms F Hajaig (ANC) queried the role that the pan-African would play and also the current status of treaties that had come out of the OAU.
Mr B L Geldenhuys (NNP) asked if it was possible to raise the issue of human rights abuses directly with the Assembly, and if this would still be possible under the African Charter on human and people's rights.
Other questions raised by ANC members concerned the financial implications for hosting organs and if the rotational basis had been taken into account. Regarding the processes to be followed, were the same processes being followed by other REC's in the course of business or was a whole new process going to be drawn up? In terms on hosting, what currency was going to be used?
Ms Castleman replied that one of the objections to the SADC hosting the summit was that Libya had played a significant role in the establishment of the AU and there was a strong feeling that the summit should take place there.
Regarding the pan-Africa parliament, it was thought to be a parallel process but its role was not clearly defined. The DFA was trying to give it the power to speak in the Assembly.
The status of treaties was one of the issues that had been raised by the SADC. It was their proposal that all treaties be reviewed before being incorporated by the AU, but this would be a slow process.
There was no clear answer to the question concerning human rights abuses. There may be scope for issues like this to be raised at the Assembly.
Concerning the hosting of organs, when a country agrees to host an organ of the AU, it must meet certain criteria such as it must have a politically conclusive atmosphere. The exact details of hosting have not been worked out. It was believed that the host state would be responsible for implementing the necessary infrastructure but that the staff would be paid of the AU coffers. Costs had not been looked at.
A decision on the currency to be used would have to be made by the council as this was a political decision.
The Speaker commented that the lack of mention of the pan-African parliament was because it could only be set up once the Assembly had set the date for its first meeting, so until the Assembly convened, the date could not be set. Additionally, concerning the questionable membership of some of the states, how was it possible to exclude a state until the AU was set up?
Ms Mbete explained that although a discussion on the African Union and of regional organisations had been planned this would not take place. Instead, the committee would be hearing a presentation from Mr Garth Le Pere from the Institute of Global Dialogue.
Mr Le Pere stated that he was presenting by default because the South African Institute of International Affairs was initially meant to be making the presentation. He explained that he had hastily prepared his speech because the canvass covered in the initiative was very wide. This therefore called for him to be selective. He broke his presentation down into three sections:
- Preliminary remarks
- Broad sketch of the different platforms making up the regional economic body
- Useful observations.
Mr Le Pere said that the 1960s began the process for nation building and fighting apartheid in South Africa. The 1980s saw an economic decline and the consequent realisation that external dependence would not be a viable solution. The Lagos Plan of action in 1980 called for an African economic community. The regional economic committees, building blocks in this initiative, led to the Abuja Treaty in June 1991. This was adopted by African states and led to rapid and sustainable development. Economic power was the dominant global factor. Nevertheless, he stated that the African continent was suffering from marginalisation and fragmentation, and this made integration necessary. The pace and impact of globalisation and the benefits in favour of strong communities led to an increase in the desire to act together. However, multiple setbacks were increasing, such as conflicts, death and destruction. There were also spiralling traumas such as the HIV epidemic and natural disasters. The African continent was therefore wanting in response to its challenges. Efforts were made to strengthen the OAU. In 1990 the OAU Declaration led to fundamental changes in the world. African leaders met in Dakar in 1990 in an attempt to discuss equipping the OAU summit of 1993. In September 1999 in Libya African leaders took a bold move. They formed the AU and accelerated the enforcement of the AU Treaty (shortened implementation for example). In July 2000, the AU Act was adopted. This was rectified in the Lusaka Summit in 2001. He added that the first AU meeting would be held in South Africa this year. Thus the OAU had been fused and streamlined. A more coherent agenda had been set out, and he said that he expected the AU to be a stronger body.
Mr Le Pere moved on to deal with the Building blocks of the AU. These were the regional economic communities that the AU contemplated as very important, namely:
- Arab Union
- Economic Communities of Central African States (ECCAS)
- Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
- Southern African Development Community (SADC)
He noted that the EGAD cluster and East African communities had been excluded. He asked for the permission of the committee to deal with each regional grouping.
Mr Le Pere started with the Arab Union. The Union Treaty was signed in February 1989 by Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco. However, tension between Algeria and Morocco led to a paralysis of the group. Nevertheless, the Union signed 30multi-lateral agreements since 1990. The proclamation, which was a step to the eventual unity of all Arab states, was meant to enable negotiations with the EU and to encourage trade. Thus the group did not create any working defence or conflict resolution structures, and this would be evident by analysing the inability to settle the Western Sahara situation.
ECCAS consisted of countries such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. It created a single currency and a common bank. The wider community, CEEAC created in 1984 and consisting of countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, Angola and the DRC, achieved little. In February 2000, seven heads of state and three ministers created a Council for Peace in Central Africa aimed at restoring defence and security. Its results were negligible.
COMESA was formed in Kampala in 1993, and 11countries signed it in 1994. He explained that the grouping was now made up of twenty members including Angola, Burundi, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Madagascar (Tanzania, the 21st member, recently withdrew). The grouping co-operated in peace, trade and integration initiatives. A free trade area was formed in 2000 and an agreement to lower tariffs was reached. In addition, the grouping sent troops to the DRC to assist in the struggle. He noted that territorial wars, such as between Kenya and her trading partners, were hampering development.
Mr Le Pere said that all the members were more or less familiar with the SADC region. A frontline states alliance was formed in the mid-1970s, and this led to the end of white rule (for example in Zimbabwe 1980). However, member states began facing economic decline and these issues led to the formation of SADCC in 1980. In 1992 SADCC was transformed into SADC, with a current membership of 40countries. He said that the grouping made substantial strides towards integration. However, this process was retarded by conflict and instability, for example in Zimbabwe, Angola and DRC.
Mr Le Pere explained that ACOAS was the most complex regional grouping. It was formally set up in Lagos in 1980, and consisted of 9Francophone states, 2Portuguese countries, and 5Anglo-phone countries. In July 1993 16 heads of state revised the ACOAS Treaty and this led to and economic and monetary union. He added that they had a trade scheme. In his opinion, West Africa was a complex region. As a result the Francophone dominated the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa was also formed. ANAD was also created in June 1997. It was a non-aggression agreement. However, it was overshadowed by ACOAS because of its limited intervention capabilities.
The fundamental issue was the strength of the states and in the approaches to government. As far as state power was concerned, Mr Le Pere said that one view would be to simply control the instrumental capacity of a state. This conception was the basis for the view that although authoritarian states were strong, they could not ensure sustainability. Power amounted to the zero sum gain between the state and society. He suggested that power was positive sums gain, involving co-operation between the state and society, and highlighted the distinction between 'power with us' and 'power over us'. Strong states had taken advantage of this power and this was reflected in the institutional networks linking the state and society.
Mr Le Pere closely related the issue to governance, which was the environment where authority and control were exercised. This had to be political (absence of violent conflict; durable government; democracy) and economic (broad context of institutional framework where the public sector worked leading to transparency and accountability). Economic growth would be possible in the absence of all these factors, and example being the E Asian Tigers. However, those countries possessed either a strong state or a business class. Most South African economies had neither. He therefore suggested that a fragile basis existed for the development of the AU. Thus there would be prerequisites before advancement.
Mr Mlangeni confirmed that the presenter had mentioned that authoritarianism was a weak system.
Ms Mbete (ANC) explained that the speaker did not say that.
Mr MLangeni replied that his argument was therefore destroyed.
Mr Eglin agreed with the statement that although economic growth was not dependent on values such as democracy and human rights, these values would be necessary in order to allow growth to filter through the economy.
Mr Eglin asked how the AU envisaged using the building blocks in order to fulfil the ultimate objectives. This was because the regions mentioned all carried out different policies and institutions.
Mr Le Pere replied that all he meant was that in the whole debate, last in the debate would be the question of the nature of the post-colonial states. He stated that his view was that a weak state existed, and this would be evident by analysing the events of the past 30 years. This meant that there would have to be a broad area of debate that would eventually lead to the nature of the African borders. Major problems had not been adequately addressed, and that fundamentally the inherited borders were artificial.
Mr Eglin (DP) agreed with the message regarding review. However, he was not sure as to where the presenter hoped to take the committee in his conclusion because he felt that the better solution would be to directly address the issues for economic growth. He did not think that they could ignore regional integration.
Mr Le Pere stated that there was a heterogeneous set of regional blocks, all carrying differing historical stories. As a result he did not think that it would be possible to bind all the countries together. He explained that this fell on the weak institutional system on which the AU would rest. The problem lay in two areas, namely development and security. Most of the communities were well developed. However they fell short on the security dimension. This would be necessary to lead to full developmental regionalisation.
A member stated that his understanding was that the presenter was not suggesting that the committee postpone all other matters in order to deal with governance. In his opinion the aim was to convey the need for union within Africa. However, one had to understand that the authoritarian states would firstly have to be tamed in order to achieve the goals.
Ms Hajaig asked for information regarding the working of the OAU, with particular reference to the level of interaction that existed in the group.
Mr Le Pere responded that he would not be able to answer this question because he had no knowledge of that area.
Ms Hajaig wanted to know into which classification Nigeria was placed, namely could one consider Nigeria to be a strong country.
Mr Le Pere explained that although he saw Nigeria as a state that had the potential to be strong, it was not a strong state. He said that Nigeria has a strong military, economic, and financial base. However, it is not institutionally sound because of the problems it inherited from approximately 30years of military strife. As a result it would have to go through a lengthy transition.
Mr Sonjica requested that the presenter make his presentation physically available to the committee.
Mr Le Pere accepted the challenge to discipline himself and to document his notes. However, he could not put a date to this.
Professor Turok enquired whether there was a middle way through which the AU could operate. She gave the example of using regional bodies to operate directly with the individual countries.
Mr Le Pere said that this was a good point to raise because a strong state presupposed a strong civil society. Thus a fundamental challenge would be to create a popular and participative ethos. He stated that this had the ability to give African states the opportunity to reconnect with society.
Mr Geldenhuys (NNP) began by saying that he had missed the first session, thus he was not sure whether his question had already been dealt with. He commented that they had to expand on the role of the state, OAU and society. He stated that both Mr Nyerere and Mr Salim Salim, centre figures of the formation of the OAU, were critical of the organisation. They expressed great dissatisfaction with the ineffectiveness of the group, and wanted to set up associations in the African countries with the task of encouraging OAU values. He felt that it would be necessary to employ the notion that the AU had to find some expression in each African country, as this would be valuable.
Ms Mbete (ANC) stated that Mr Nyerere was quite aware of the abnormal situation they were facing, and she pointed out to the fact that there were more Botswana in South Africa that in Botswana!
Mr Le Pere explained that an enduring problem in Africa went to the identity of Africans. He stated that the seeds of centrifugal tendencies flowed from that, and as a result it would be necessary to recognise that the problem was real. This is because the pretence of solidarity was artificial.
A member asked if anything would be done regarding the African borders.
Mr Le Pere stated that if he had persuasive authority in the AU, he would form a commission to look at the whole issue of borders. He said that he could not see the group as maintaining the current topography in order to entrench their goals. He added that many of the countries, such as Rwanda and Burundi, were poor excuses for states and should possibly be confederated with other states, such as Tanzania. He explained that the OAU accepted the boundaries in 1963, thus the possibility existed that the AU represented the opportunity to relook the borders. However, he strongly doubted whether some African leaders would be prepared to raise that task.
Another member suggested that it would be necessary to reform the 5building blocks. He noted the fact that Angola was a member of at least three of the groups and said that it could be necessary to unify the bodies.
Mr Le Pere responded that overlapping was problematic. However, he could not say how the problem would be resolved because they were dealing with very different formations. He added that the debate had never been entered into.
Ms Mbete (ANC) called for the last round of questions. She added that the committee was still free to raise questions from issues that were dealt with before lunchtime.
An ANC member asked how the AU would blend its relationships with Europe into its agenda.
Mr Le Pere said that he did not have the complete answer to the impact of multi-lateral agreements on a long term. He said that the implications would have to be better understood in light of the goals.
Mr Madasa (ACDP) asked whether any strategies would be built in to deal with the disruptive influence of former colonial powers.
Mr Le Pere stated that the role of colonial powers came in different guises. However, the role would always shape into state relations in Africa. He said that his view was that the developed countries seemed altruistic. Nevertheless, he said that this was a question for a better-informed person.
Ms Mothoagae referred to the link between the civil society and government. She wanted to know who the missing link was and to whom 'civil society' referred.
Mr Kekane commented on the statements made regarding Mr Nyerere and Mr Salim Salim. He mentioned the Berlin Wall and said that it caused people on either side to resent each other because they saw themselves as different. He stated that it would not be possible to unite Africa without introducing democracy into the nations. He urged the committee to move away from the past and to attempt to unify Africa.
Mr Sonjica wanted to know whether any strengthening methods had been created to deal with the weak regional economic communities.
Dr Davies (ANC) referred to the indication that some of the building blocks had done well. He felt that it would be necessary to interrogate this because the possibility of reproducing problems in the AU existed. He stated that he was looking at the broader global context and wanted to know whether there was any serious hope that strengthening the projects would work. If not, he wanted to know whether the future of the weak states lay in governance beyond their own borders.
Mr Le Pere responded that he was unsure regarding how to strengthen regional economic communities. This is because all of the nations possessed built in weaknesses. He said that this would require strong political leadership in some cases. He agreed with the statement that progress had been made. However, he pointed out that things were relative. He stated that South Africa had been very proactive and as a result reduced the issue to the question of commitment to developing the common vision.
Ms Tshivhase said that European countries historically practices indirect rule. She wanted to know whether the possibility existed that certain countries were indirectly interfering with the unity the AU was trying to obtain. She referred to some form of sabotage.
Ms Mbete (ANC) stated that one issue that had merged during the meeting was the fact that the committee was dealing with a situation that had been completed. However, the committee was still required to provide some input. She added that the reality showed the strength of international governance in the Executive, more that in the Legislature. The committee would therefore have to be increasingly diligent.
The meeting was adjourned.
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