The African Union is failing to protect the people of Mali, Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic (CAR) from the so-called “Jihadist” terrorists who are moving around and killing them at will. Recently, 30 Malian soldiers were slaughtered by terrorists in and around the area of Tankrit in the north of the country. In Burkina Faso inhabitants in many villages have been wiped out.
Still, many people are killed in CAR by the militias who refused to sign up for peace. The question that we need to ask is what happened to the African Union standby Force that is supposed to intervene and stop armed insurrections on our continent? Does this Standby Force still exist? Who is funding this Force? What has happened to the mantra “An African solution to an African problem? Is Africa ready to silence the guns by 2020? These and many other questions beg for answers on a continent devoid of leadership.
The critical question to raise at this juncture is: Who is funding and arming these so-called Jihadi terrorists and millitias?
What is happening in Mali is of great concern. The Malian Army which is supposed to be protecting its citizens seem to be overwhelmed by the terrorists. Many servicemen have lost their lives. Every time there is a confrontation between the Army and terrorists, a great number of soldiers are killed. The military seems to be demoralized and have lost the battle in their minds. We now call for the African Union to intervene by sending the African Union Standby Force. I am not sure whether the Standby Force has been operationalized or not, but Africa needs to learn to do things on its own rather than waiting for foreign governments or AFRICOM to come to our rescue every time we have a problem in our own backyard.
The same can be said of the Central African Republic (CAR). About 14 rebel groups signed a peace agreement which was spearheaded by the Russians again with minimum participation from the African Union. In fact, the African Union was informed later of this peace initiative and just came to endorse it. Why doesn’t the AU take a lead in these continental initiatives? Why can’t the AU sanction these rebel groups refusing to cooperate in peace making initiatives? These people are freely roaming across African capitals and enjoying their ill-gotten wealth without any fear.
In actual fact some of them are guests of African leaders. In many instances, the leaders of these groups are known to the AU and indeed some of them are supported by some leaders within the African Union itself. A good example of this is that of President Idriss Derby Etno who is married to the daughter of the leader of the Janjaweed militia responsible for the genocide which killed more than a million-black people in Darfur. In actual fact, it is fashionable nowadays to be a terrorist in Africa. It makes one a celebrity in some cases. Terrorists are known to be having the dollars and to wear designer clothes. They go out with the best girls in the community. What bearing does all this have on the minds of our children? How does the African Union intend to silence guns on the continent by 2020 if it fails to clampdown on these people?
In Burkina Faso, villages are completely wiped out of people by rebels who come putting on the National Army camouflage and slaughter people wantonly. The Burkinabe Army again has been rendered useless as they are no match to the rebels that they are fighting. A lot of innocent civilians have been killed in Burkina Faso and thousands more have been displaced after having their houses and properties destroyed by rebels. Instead, we hear that the government of Burkina Faso went to plead with the French Army to protect them and not the African Union.
We call upon the current chair of the AU, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to impress upon his colleagues to work with him and operationalize the African Union Standby Force ready to be deployed to any part of Africa that faces terrorism and any other armed insurrection. However, the usual excuse that we hear from across Africa when such a call is made, is that of no “money”. That cannot be true at all.
Where are the billions of dollars leaving Africa through corruption for the banks in Europe and elsewhere coming from? If the elite of our continent (who are made up of political leaders) prepare to return a quarter of what they have stolen, that money would be more than enough to equip our African Standby Force with manpower, training and equipment. This would stop all the carnage happening in some parts of our continent.
We appeal to President Ramaphosa to inform his dear colleagues that Africa’s security cannot be outsourced to a foreign army like AFRICOM. Security can only be home grown. It should be by the people of Africa, for the people of Africa. That is what should be meant by the mantra “African solutions for African problems”. AFRICOM is the US army, its not an African army and it is here purely for USA interests.
Dr Mustafa Mheta is a Researcher and Head of the Africa Desk at the Media Review Network based in Johannesburg, South Africa.