President Levy Mwanawasa has with immediate effect dropped and recalled Mbita Chitala as Zambia ambassador to Libya.
According to the Times of Zambia Newspapers, the Presidents action was prompted by Mr Chitala’s article in which he was advocating for policies which he termed as being contrary to the Government position on the African Union.
Mr Chitala was not given any authority by the Zambian government to write what he wrote on in The Tripoli Post.
“The article has caused untold embarrassment to his excellency the President and the Government of Zambia and a Foreign minister of a country whose leader was described in very unkind words has intimated that he will send a note of protest to the Zambian Government.”
A search on the internet found an opinion piece on the link below which Mr Chitala wrote.
Opinion: The Federal Union of African States Must be Established Now
By Ambassador Mbita Chitala
This presentation addresses the subject of the historical necessity and inevitability of the federated African state. The central argument of the article is that continental integration and empowerment can only succeed if the coordination of efforts is at a continental level through first, the formation of one all African State, that is, by way of a political decision and that economic integration shall only be complementary.
This article does not discuss the benefits that will be derived from Africa’s political integration (insure peace keeping, combat disease, environmental concerns, poverty, corruption, oversee good governance, equi-distribute Africa’s wealth) as this is already a settled argument nor does it discuss the method and road map for achieving this historical inevitability as this is a detail to be designed by professional managers.
This write up is aimed at imploring African leaders to make the political decision and establish the united one African state as they meet at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 31 January, 2008.
Status of Africa’s Unity
Post independence Africa presents a divided and balkanized states, weak, and for more than four decades has continued to be a play ground for unabated abuse, exploitation and oppression of its peoples by other more organized political regions as exemplified by the hegemonic control the Europeans and Americans still hold on Africa.
Africa’s age old yearnings for political and economic integration have been thwarted, of course variously explained by many factors and interest opinions. These factors include the influence of self-seeking, narrow-minded nationalist African leaders who have continued to opt for personal glory and fame at the expense of the larger Africa using the legalistic excuse of sovereignty, the influence of the vestiges of colonial aberrations and neo-colonial psyches and dominion where Africa in the international division of labour has continued to play the role as a supplier of raw materials and net importer of manufactured commodities which in the process condemns Africa to continue being exploited by way of unequal exchange.
In the area of consciousness, cultural imperialism has been ensuring that Africa is divided between two blocs – Anglophone and Francophone – and this division has been sustained by the former colonial powers variously such as establishing institutions like the British Commonwealth with their British Council, and the French Francophone with their Alliance Francais.
These have continued to sew divisions among Africans by false ideologies such as the Christian-Moslem dichotomy, the Arab-African dichotomy and the ethnicity or tribal ideologies that are used to divide and weaken Africans. With globalization, Africa has further deepened its integration to the global finance capital from a weak stand point where it cannot get an equal share of the benefits of globalization.
African countries have attempted to unite the many small post colonial social formations to address this issue of poverty, underdevelopment and insecurity of Africa but often have fallen short because of the above reasons or because they used unsustainable unworkable methods such as desiring to have economic integration before political unity.
The most notable attempt was the Abuja Treaty – Regulation CM/464 of the 26th OAU Council of Ministers who wanted to create five regional communities who would play the role of the future continental common market. The recommendation was based on the realization that integrating 53 differently ruled African States would be unsustainable because of the unripe consciousness, the influence of geography, ecosystems and operational precedence. This attempt failed and more regional communities continued being formed.
In pre-Abuja Treaty, there were 8 Regional Economic Communities (RECs) including SACU, MRU, ECOWAS, CEPAL, ECCAS, IOC, IGAD and UMA. In post Abuja Treaty, more RECs have been established. These include SADC, UEMOA, CEMAC, COMESA, CEN-SAD, EAC.
All these have been set up in spite of duplication of programmes and their multiplicity, cross cutting membership and inefficiencies have compromised African integration. An attempt towards rationalizing them has failed because of lack of political will and resentment and opposition by the established public service supported by entrenched rules and contracts.
It is unacceptable for African leaders to continue procrastinating or making lame selfish excuses of going to consult their peoples and so on such as has been the case in the last ten years. There is no need for these countries to hold referendums as Muammar Gaddaffi challenged his colleagues at the Accra Summit.
The opposition to integration that was exhibited by Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa in Accra is regrettable as it was based on the false assumption that these three countries would on their own develop to be sub imperialist powers.
It is gratifying that Liberia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Chad and Libya came strongly for immediate political unity. The rest remained look warm. It is no wonder the Africans in South Africa and Kenya have already shown their leaders what they think of their acts in Accra. What is required as the first act is to agree on political integration by establishing the Federated Union of African States.
This was the consensus that was reached after the transformation of the OAU into the AU on 9th September, 1999 at Sirte in Libya where all African Leaders committed themselves to the establishment of the United States of Africa.
“Those who want to move on a snails pace or are opposed to Africa’s political integration should be left out for now. Their own nationals will deal with them in due course and compel them to join the bigger good – the Federated United States of Africa.”
It was therefore amazing at the meeting in Accra, Ghana in July, 2007 that about 50% of African countries continued to give lame excuses at delaying this historical necessity which has as a result continued the tendency of the marginalization of the continent in global affairs as well as deepened the underdevelopment of its people.
As the leaders go to meet again in Addis Ababa on January, 31st, 2008, all progressive Africans are hoping that the final solution to African Unity and integration will be found. Now, Africa has entered the globalization process from a point of weakness.
New constraints have emerged, particularly with timeframes imposed by initiatives such as the EU, the WTO, China and so on. It is therefore imperative that a new momentum and initiative within a better structured continental framework with improved follow up on both the political leadership and rationalization and implementation of one African economic set up be launched.
Political Integration First, then Economic Integration
Former Zambian President Dr Kenneth Kaunda and former Algerian President Ben Bela are the only two Africans still living who can attest from first hand account the ideals yearned by Africa’s founding fathers of a strong and independent one African State that was championed by African heroes such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Neyere, Patrice Lumumba, Toure, Gamal Abdul Nasser, Emperor Haile Sellassie, Jomo Kenyatta and other African patriots.
These ideals have been taken up by a few progressive African leaders notably Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, and the Senegalese President Wade who have been trying to persuade fellow African leaders to move forward on this African integration process. In the last ten years, Libya has had to spend a lot of money and effort trying to have the project realized.
Muammar Gaddafi and the leaders of this progressive tendency have been opposed by a conservative fringe whose chief response has been that they are not ready or they must first consult their people or that they are afraid of losing their sovereignty or simply remain non committal. This bloc has been lukewarm and has chosen the road towards Africa’s integration by first strengthening regional economic groupings and assumed that the integration process will ripen on its own. The logic of this route is to further divide Africa. This is the route championed by African colonial masters now united as the European Union.
It has been argued by some African leaders and supported by neo colonial think tanks at the secretariats of the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union and the United Nations that the challenges Africa faces is for the Regional Economic Communities ( RECs) to harmonize their programmes so as to attain convergence and ultimately the African Economic Community.
Even though the REC’s are not among the organs of the African Union (AU), it has been argued by these think tanks that they can still be used as building blocks of the African Union government as they were anticipated to be for the African Economic Community under the Abuja Treaty.
It has been obvious from all and sundry that such an approach would forever thwart the advancement of the African confederation and would play in the hands of Africa’s enemies who want to continue subjecting the continent to age old disadvantages such as imperialist exploitation and marginalization of the Africans in global affairs.
To the progressive Africans, it must be obvious that this incremental approach is not only unsustainable but must be overthrown and be replaced by a Nkrumah/Nasser and currently Gaddafi/Wade approach that argues for “seek ye the political kingdom first, and all would follow”.
The argument that Africa should first rationalize and harmonize the more than fourteen (14) regional economic cooperation groupings and use them as the basis for advancing to Federal Africa is a view point that is against historical experience.
In practice, it is utter mechanistic nonsense and is a road to continued balkanization of the continent, weakening Africa and ensuring that it continues to be a market for imperialist capital. Only political unity can advance the economic integration agenda and break the suffocating tentacles of imperialism which have for the last 200 years constrained Africa’s advancement.
The only Question at Addis Ababa and Africa’s Prayer
It is important that Africans, as they meet at Addis Ababa on 31st January, 2008 realize that unless they create political space in the sense of an all Africa Federal State, all what Africa has always aspired for will be in vain. We will have to wait for another generation to attempt at unity again. What a waste of ten years investment of our time and resources!
At the Accra Summit of the African Union in July, 2007, the decision to establish the federated State of Africa was postponed for six months to allow for further national consultations. About 50% of African States mainly in the CEN-SAD group were for the immediate establishment of the United States of Africa. Another group mainly from the SADC area was lukewarm to the ideal and politely opposed the immediate creation of the African Union State.
They regressed to the outdated Abuja Treaty argument of basing unity on the gradual development of regional groupings.
Today, Africa faces the challenges that Nkrumah and his colleagues faced at the beginning of this argument which resulted in the creation of two blocs – the Casablanca and Monrovia blocs among African leaders. The question then was principally how to advance the decolonization of Africa.
The bloc led by Nkrumah, Nasser, Nyerere, Haile Sellasie, Ben Bella, Kaunda, Toure, Lumumba and others won the day against the African reactionaries who advocated for some regulated independence. Today, there are about 53 politically independent African States – most of them are weak and are simply outposts of imperialist exploitation and subjugation.
It is necessary, nay, a historical inevitability that Africa must first address and achieve political unity under one State for any meaningful progress to be made towards playing any equal role in the global community. The harmonization and rationalization of the REC’s will also follow naturally as politics will lead.
The argument which has been advanced by some of our leaders that political unity will only be reached if and when all African States accede to the ideal by way of consensus is obviously, not a useful position. For practical reasons, this 100% unanimity is utopian as some African States are under the hegemony of imperialism or are simply reactionary and/or will never be allowed by their imperialist masters to accede to Africa’s political integration. These countries should not be allowed to hold progress of other Africans. They should no longer delay this movement towards Africa’s emancipation and unity.
Those who want to move on a snails pace or are opposed to Africa’s political integration should be left out for now. Their own nationals will deal with them in due course and compel them to join the bigger good – the Federated United States of Africa.
About The Author
Ambassador Mbita Chitala
Ambassador of Zambia to Libya (These are personal views of the author)