President Robert Mugabe recently advised journalists to tell a good story about Africa, saying there were a number of positives that could be written, instead of dwelling on the negatives.
We agree with the President and we feel there is a lot of “Afro-pessimism” on offer, with most waiting for the slightest hint of failure to begin excoriating African leaders.
However, the proceedings of the latest African Union summit are cause for concern, as the continental heads of State and government were once again found wanting.
The AU baulked at the idea of sending troops to Burundi after several weeks of threatening to do so, whether that country wanted or not.
A precedent has been set here, the AU is proving itself to be a paper tiger, which can hardly go through with its resolutions.
Hundreds of Burundians have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced, while the East African region has to deal with instability caused by this conflict. The AU had a chance to make a lasting statement, but they bottled it terribly.
It is disingenuous to say the regional bloc, the East African Community (EAC), should deal with the conflict, rather, the AU, as the bigger body, should have taken a stand that it would not allow leaders to abuse power kill their own people.
EAC is already burdened by the conflict in Somalia, the civil war in Ethiopia and instability in the Great Lakes region and adding the weight of another conflict to the regional bloc is just pure hypocrisy.
The AU should have taken a stand and this was going to send a message to other leaders that the body will, not brook such use of violence and abuse of power.
What the AU has instead seemingly done is to tell African people that they are at the mercy of their leaders and, on the other hand, told these leaders that they can get away with anything they want.
When the AU finally decides to intervene in Burundi, it maybe too little too late and lasting damage would have been done.
As the death toll rises, it may not be surprising to see the United Nations or some Western grouping intervene and African nations will be the first to cry foul alleging interference.
While foreign intervention is frowned upon at all costs, Africa is displaying shocking inertia in dealing with its own affairs and sadly “Big Brother” — the Western nations — may see this as reason to interfere in our affairs.
As alluded to, we are “Afro-optimists”, but our leaders make it so easy for anyone to question them and their conduct, particularly regarding Burundi, leaves a lot to be desired.
On this score, the AU failed and deserves the strongest censure.