The fact that the African Union (AU) is unable to deal with African issues is beyond doubt. However, as we blame the organisation for a lack of teeth, we should try to understand what really makes it a non-starter.
At the 37th OAU Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said the creation of the AU required "leadership, courage and willingness to depart from the past".
Annan could not cite better values to make the AU deliver but making a reasonably good number of African leaders embrace such values is an uphill task. Its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, was easily renamed the African Union but the sad fact is that if Africa has not had much UNITY, what do you create a UNION from?
No organisation can function without financial support and some level of independence on the part of those running it. An eve of Summit meeting of foreign ministers in 2007 was reportedly handed a report which showed "only seven African states were up-to-date with their dues to the AU".
Maxwell Nkwezalamba, Commissioner for Economic Affairs at the African Union in Addis Ababa, is on record as saying that the biggest challenge to the AU is a lack of funds. How can more than 50 nations fail to fund a continental organisation, which has been revitalised to "pave the way to a better life for all Africans?" The Libyan leader Gathafi's assassination has thrown the AU's future into even more doubt. Not only did he pay his country's dues - until two years ago - to the AU, the "brother leader" paid for other African countries which "could not afford to pay".
The claim that some African nations are too poor to pay their AU dues must be taken with a large grain of salt. The real issue is that too many African leaders, besides flying their jets (the few who care to attend) to speak eloquently at the AU's conferences,...