By Themba Khumalo

I was caressing a glass of peated-whisky which had the presence of the holy trinity of the whisky divinities when some nincompoop introduced a topic about political leaders who will lead us into a bright future.
This triggered me; to mention a bright future and political leaders in one sentence is cruel when I am drinking whisky. This fellow did not know that whisky to me is like a gorgeous woman worthy of unlimited admiration. I also tend to be triggered by our inept, arrogant, frozen-brain and dim-witted leaders.
Their ineptitude has pushed the growth of Africa down a dangerous and slippery slope which makes it unlikely for us to look forward to a bright future. How I wish leaders were chosen on the basis of their skills and potential. We would not find ourselves trapped with these cunning, self-promoting, pilfering, and narcissistic delusional stooges. The pulsating throb of Africa’s lack of progress has found residence in the African Union (AU). At times I can’t help but deduce that at the helm of the AU sits a greedy collection of individuals who are adept at pulling each other down like crabs in a barrel. Their ruckus has nothing to do with the Union and more importantly, with citizens of this continent called Africa.
Africa is still beset with numerous socio-economic problems. This has reduced, in importance, our continent to a dreaded add-on to the global community. We are only harked back to for the curse of wars, poverty, human trafficking, scrawny and dejected refugees. The shortage of statesmen imbued with strategic vision to give our continent a deserved break with our dreadful past, is one of the major shackles to development. Our brain-deficient leaders are firmly entrenched in the business of feeding their egos and collecting crumbs from pseudo-benevolent funders, hence the failure of the AU to take Africa on a growth trajectory.
They are not sufficiently blessed with the will and ability to provide visionary and pragmatic leadership.
It escapes these blockheads that if the AU continues to lurch from one blunder to another and fail to deliver, Africa will not progress, and we face the prospect of yet more decades of suffering.
Their lack of inaction and/or indecisiveness is borne by the citizens. This can easily be determined by shortened lives and frustrated ambitions of the people of our continent. A cursory glance at the news will show you that there are thousands of young African persons who have been gobbled up by the sea and others have died in the cruel desert; all in pursuit of a better life elsewhere.
These young people are prepared to risk everything, including their lives, because they know there is no hope for them in their own continent. Our leaders seem to be blind to the fact that they need to act urgently. The AU must stop acting like that miserably useless and dead organisation that it took over from; the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), whose recollection we have of it are the extravagant annual shindigs at which dictators patted themselves on the backs for their prolonged stay in office.
The AU is yet to prove to us that it is truly committed and has the wherewithal to implement for positive results and impact for Africa to turn the corner. We have been witnesses to the failure of the AU in implementing the thousands of resolutions they have adopted over the years.
It is infuriating to also learn that they have no way to determine how many of these resolutions have in fact been implemented. This failure tells us a heart-breaking tale; they don’t really care about us and implementation of the decisions they make is of no importance.
In a 2017 document by Paul Kagame, called the Report on the Proposed Recommendations for the Institutional Reform of the African Union, there is an admission which reads,
“Nevertheless, the unfortunate truth is that Africa today is ill-prepared to adequately respond to current events, because the African Union still has to be made fit for purpose.”
The report revealed a number of key findings, which shaped the proposed recommendations.
-The chronic failure to see through African Union decisions has resulted in a crisis of implementation
-A perception of limited relevance to African citizens
-A fragmented organisation with a multitude of focus areas
-Overdependence on partner funding
-Underperformance of some organs and institutions due to unclear mandates or chronic underfunding
-Limited managerial capacity
-Lack of accountability for performance, at all levels
-Unclear division of labour between the African Union Commission, the regional economic communities (RECs), other regional mechanisms (RMs), and member states
-Inefficient working methods in both the Commission and the Assembly

As things stand the AU is a dysfunctional organisation which as citizens of this continent, we see limited value, little credibility, and more seriously, we have lost whatever little trust we had.
The AU must cease with this dithering, because Africans are dying from wars and poverty.
We have seen the resurgence of devastating wars where hundreds of people are being slaughtered and many more displaced. Leaders of the Union must pull the plug on the rhetoric about African unity and urgently move, if they can, to a more practical approach to achieve real advancement for the well-being and security of Africans.

In discussions at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in early 2016 during the launch of Economic Report on Africa 2016: Greening Africa’s Industrialization, most experts concurred that amongst the many reasons for Africa’s slow industrialisation, one of them “is that its leaders have failed to pursue bold economic policies out of fear of antagonising donors.” Writing in The Financial Times, in the same year, Kingsley Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said, “Africa stands on the cusp of a lost opportunity because its leaders—and those who assess its progress in London, Paris and Washington—are wrongly fixated on the rise and fall of GDP and foreign investment flows, mostly into resource extraction industries and modern shopping malls. African countries must reject the misleading notion that they can join the West by becoming post-industrial societies without having first been industrial ones.”
Kingsley got a nod from Ha-Joon Chang, an economist, who told the Addis Ababa gathering that “African countries need to have the self-confidence to develop alternative policies and stick to them.”
Are there any leaders whose loins are made of steel? I am not talking about some dimwits who suffer from intellectual impotence. I am talking about leaders who have the fortitude to implement all the impressive schemes and plans that get announced at a number of summits, promising to lift-off Africa into prosperity. As a conclusion in the Report on the Proposed Recommendations for the Institutional Reform of the African Union, Kagame wrote, “Today, the AU stands at yet another crossroad in its history. It can carry on down the same road or change direction to become more relevant. This report suggests that it is time to change direction, and provides a basis to initiate the process. Ultimately, the decision to change lies in the choices that African leaders make. The choice to change and the choice to remain committed to it. And most importantly, the choice to provide our citizens with a continent in which they can thrive.” Before I go back to what I was doing earlier, let me ask; what did the AU do after the revelations by Health Poverty Action’s report, Honest Accounts? The true story of Africa’s billion-dollar losses? The report made it clear that in comparison with what Africa loses, the amount she receives back in aid is negligible. “The truth is that rich nations take much more from Africa than they give in aid – including through tax dodging, debt repayments, brain drain, and the unfair costs of climate change – all of which rich nations benefit from.” Nkosi sikelela…

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