Youth Across the African Continent and the Diaspora Demand Unity and Bold Action from AU Leaders ahead of July Summit
As our leaders prepare to gather in Addis Ababa for the 19th Ordinary AU Summit, we the youth of Africa, urge African Heads of State to step up efforts towards Africa’s development.
This year marks ten years since the launch of the African Union and young people in Africa and its Diaspora are united in voicing concern over the appalling state of our continent.
It is common knowledge that Africa is endowed with vast natural resources such as oil, minerals, gas, and water. Yet, it is home to the largest number of people living in abject poverty. The harsh reality we now face is that Africa will not meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of halving poverty by the year 2015.
Our generation has entrusted our leaders with the responsibility to deliver the most basic services to the poor masses but they have failed us. Instead they gather each year to deliver high sounding rhetoric filled with empty promises of a better tomorrow. Our elected leaders continue to betray our hopes while they enrich themselves, their families and their cronies. They have allowed corruption to remain rooted in our continent as billions of dollars leave our shores in illicit financial transactions, while at the same time accepting hand-outs in the form of foreign aid. Our leaders turn a blind eye while our former colonizers continue to induce proxy wars on our continent to create anarchy with the sole purpose of gaining easy access to our resources.
Young people around the continent and in the diaspora are tired of protesting in front of foreign diplomatic missions. We are now demanding the changes we need from our elected leaders, because we believe they are collectively guilty of complacency while our continent continues to slide further to the periphery.
In recent years, our leaders have shown a lack of commitment, passion and political will to translate our wealth of natural resources into real continental socio-economic prosperity and good governance. This is evident in the lackluster pace in the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a programme aimed at accelerating the achievement of Africa’s renaissance.
It pains us that leaders such as Julius Nyerere, Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Oliver Tambo and other unsung heroes fought for our liberation over many years, yet decades later, the majority of African countries continue to battle high levels of poverty, illiteracy and under-development while struggling to pull themselves out of the heavy debt trap. We, the youth of Africa, are finally taking a stand to continue the struggle for Africa’s emancipation that was started by the forebears of the OAU in 1963.
We acknowledge the negative impact of the decades of slavery, colonialism and apartheid and the resultant failure to improve the social, political and economic governance systems of our continent. However we believe that Africa’s time has come and we remain convinced that our only hope lies in finding African solutions to African problems by Africans themselves with Africans.
Nkrumah pointed out, in 1961, that “we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. We wish to remind you, our leaders, of the AU Constitutive Act which outlines the objectives of the Union including, amongst other things, to “achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of Africa.”
We believe that the current contestation over the Chairpersonship of the AU Commission (AUC), which has exposed a deterioration of leadership on the continent, has done a great injustice to the ideals of the Constitutive Act. We call on the AU member states involved in these political theatrics to immediately refrain from sowing disunity in what has become a divisive power battle.
We demand that all member states of this august continental body uphold the spirit and letter of the Constitutive Act.
We appeal to our leaders to be mindful of the dangers of their actions which will only serve to embolden western powers to continue manipulating and meddling in our continent’s affairs.
We believe that the AU has developed substantial policies to ensure good political and economic governance, peace and stability, unity and socio-economic development. Amongst these policies is the African Youth Charter, which protects the rights of young people throughout the continent and compels member states to enact legislation that will give effect to the Charter. The Charter further encourages member states to include the youth in their delegations to the AU ordinary sessions and other meetings. It gives young people a voice in the AU through the ECOSOCC at an advisory level. However, this has proved to be ineffective with the result that Africa’s youth remain shut out of decision-making processes of the AU.
We propose the establishment of a dedicated desk for the youth and request that the AU allow the various youth formations to make inputs to the nature and governance structure of the Youth Desk.
We further implore our leaders to take far bolder steps towards asserting Africa’s voice in multilateral forums such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions: the IMF and the World Bank. AU leaders must renew their resolve to demand an end to the continued marginalization of our continent and fight against the new scramble for Africa which is being achieved through neo-colonial policies disguised as “the right to protect (R2P)”.
The abuse of the UN by the major powers under the pretext of R2P played itself out in Libya in 2011 in what became known as “Military Diplomacy” to effect a regime change in that country. In an unprecedented move, NATO forces were sub-contracted to carry out deadly military operations which resulted in mass killings of our Libyan brothers and sisters. The enforcement of UN Resolution 1973, which among others, authorised a no-fly zone, served not only to marginalize the AU but also effectively curtailed its plans to negotiate and fully implement the Roadmap to Peace. Libyan Leader Muammar Gadaffi was captured and killed and NATO tanks have since left, but the country is left to pick up the pieces with long-term socio-economic paralysis and a fragile political arrangement that threatens to erupt again.
The AU was once again paralyzed in Cote d’Ivoire following the 2010 Presidential elections. It was plain for all to see that the former colonial power, France, using its Force Licorne and assisted by the UN Operations in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI), orchestrated the charade that saw Alassane Ouattara assume power in 2011 despite the highly irregular electoral processes. Once again, the UN Security Council turned a blind eye to the blatant disregard for our continental body, the AU. These two events indicate that the AU is failing to take decisive action against the naked abuse of our continent by the powerful nations.
This leadership failure is threatening to reverse the gains made since the establishment of the OAU almost five decades ago.
We therefore strongly request that:
The youth representation in the AU be re-institutionalized and that a dedicated desk in the office of the AUC Chairperson be established;
All member countries adhere fully to the AU Constitutive Act; All AU policy commitments and resolutions, including the African Youth Charter, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance, Charter on Human Rights and the AU/NEPAD African Action Plan 2010-2015 be implemented with immediate effect;
South Africa, Gabon and their supporters who are involved in the divisive AUC leadership contest put the interests of the Continent first and refrain from these embarrassing and destructive power battles; and
The AU takes bold action to stop the continued marginalization of our continent.
We refuse to stand at the gates any longer whilst our future is determined for us without our participation.
As the youth of Africa we are steadfast in our resolve as we believe victory is certain. This Petition is the beginning of a struggle which will be waged fearlessly until our voices are heard.