Two significant summits attracted attention lately - one in Southern Africa and the other still not clear if it will or will not take place in the Northern region.
Both show that much is still to be achieved before we really can say African regional and continental institutions are serving their goals of: Unifying, integrating, and developing Africa and pushing the African aspiration of building “an Integrated Continent Politically united and based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of African Renaissance.”
The first is the 42nd Ordinary Summit of SADC, held on the 17th of August 2022, in Kinshasa, DRC, which may have adopted good decisions, recommendations, and outcomes, yet it still failed, like many other African meetings to translate these decisions into actions or even in communications that impact SADC countries’ general public opinion, which doesn’t even understand or feel the impact their regional organisation is having in their lives.
Because, mind you, in 2022, we are still entrenched as individual countries in our internal and local politics, closed to a very big level to other neighbouring countries, and if we try to measure the level of integration, and even the levels of economic exchanges between our countries, we will be surprised of the slow development that has been achieved.
We still have obstacles in business opportunities for nationals of other countries in our respective countries. We still don’t have a real regional Parliament that would legislate for the region as a whole and accommodates national legislation to the regional and continental needs.
We still don’t have unified, strictly designed, and voiced positions on various political and economic issues that need consent and unified positions for SADC to be really influential.
And this is not only a deficiency in the international multilateral forums but even in the African Union, where we see a few errant countries moving far from SADC’s positions to adopt separate ones or violate SADC's good governance and democracy goals, to name only these.
The second weird Summit, in a way, has to do with the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), which was set to be held in Tunisia from 25th to 29th August 2022.
TICAD's previous meetings and summits were disturbed by Morocco and Japan's repeated attempts to deprive the Saharawi Republic, a founding member of the AU, of participating in the events.
This is strange because Japan cannot condition this partnership by deciding who among the African Union can or cannot participate. It is just unacceptable, especially since the AU had been clear in various decisions that it is AU’s members’ right to attend all partnerships regardless of who the partner is.
Despite this clear decision, Japan kept trying to hinder the participation of Saharawi delegates. In fact, in TICAD 6th Ministerial Follow-up Meeting, held on the 24th of August 2017 in Maputo, Mozambique, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs stood as the room’s Doorkeeper trying to stop his Sahrawi peer from entering the room by force in a surreal scene.
This is not the only anomaly of such meetings. We wonder how can Africans accept that 55 Heads of State move all the way to meet the Japanese Prime Minister.
Now, it seems that the PM has even declared he will be unable to attend physically because he caught Covid-19.
But even if he does attend, why are all African leaders moving to meet one international dignitary? To avoid such embarrassment, the AU adopted in 2006 the “Banjul Formula” of participation in meetings between the Union and any single foreign country no matter how strategic they may be.
The formula recommends the representation of the AU by outgoing and incumbent chairpersons, the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC); the five NEPAD founding members; the chairperson of NEPAD; and the countries chairing AU-endorsed Regional Economic Communities (15 Presidents in total).
Instead of this, we see many countries led by their individual agendas, rushing to participate in these partnerships, forgetting that Africa will only be taken seriously when it speaks with one voice.