Information ministry permanent secretary George Charamba was at it again yesterday pontificating about an African resolution to pull out of the United Nations.
Comment: NewsDay Editor
The problem with Charamba is that he believes he has a monopoly of knowledge, which he employs regularly to browbeat the opposition and private media, while using the ever pliant State media.
After his gratuitous lecture to the opposition, Charamba is best advised to return to the Ezulwini Consensus, where he will realise that there was no resolution to pull out of the UN if Africa’s demand for two permanent seats was not honoured.
In fact, the Ezulwini Consensus in 2005 spoke about several issues, including HIV and Aids, debt write-offs for highly-indebted countries, recommending steps to complete elimination of nuclear weapons and permanent seats at the UN.
On UN reform, the Ezulwini Consensus states that Africa demands at least two permanent seats — including veto power — and five non-permanent seats on the Security Council, with the African Union (AU) choosing which countries would get the seats.
Thus, Charamba is simply not telling the truth when he says President Robert Mugabe was only reiterating an African position adopted 11 years ago by threatening to pull out of the UN.
Contrary to his claims, there is no such continental issue and Mugabe was only saying his opinion.
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Even if it were a continental issue, surely, a decision as mammoth as pulling out of the UN would need to be debated and the opposition — as much as Charamba loathes this — would have to give their input before this is ratified by our legislature.
We challenge Charamba and the State media to reveal the Ezulwini Consensus points that were agreed on and see if any of them speaks about pulling out of the UN.
We appreciate that Charamba speaks on behalf of and has to defend his boss, but this should not involve deliberate untruths just to make a point to the opposition, as there is a world of difference between demanding permanent seats in the Security Council and pulling out of the world body.
On pulling out of the UN, the facts remain, even if Africa were to eventually agree to drag itself out of the world body, it first has to fix some fundamentals, which right now are so shaky making Mugabe’s threat sound very hollow.
Africa is not contributing significantly to the UN, but is the main beneficiary of food aid, development grants and peace missions, as the AU is a wobbly body, weakened by lack of funding and has to rely on the European Union for money and the Chinese to build their headquarters.
As it is, any withdrawal efforts are doomed and will do the continent no good.
Instead of lecturing us about some imaginary agreement in the Ezulwini Consensus, Charamba should be telling us how his boss and his counterparts plan to strengthen the AU, so that when the continental body speaks and acts, it will a have a strong and united voice.
As it is, pulling out of the UN is wishful thinking and it is a pity that so much time and space are wasted on such a non-issue.