By Mbangwa Xaba

To err is human. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, at every turn, politicians tend to appropriate to themselves the sole custodianship of righteousness. Even stranger, it seems this dexterity comes with some God-like status, it affords them the ability to decide who must live or die. They even crest these murders as patriotic or acts of justice through wars, coups, terrorism and other greed-induced miscarriages of justice. Always, without fail, women and children pay the ultimate price for this psychotic behaviour. The butchering of children and women in Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, Mali, the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, Somalia, the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, eastern DRC, Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, and more recently, Ukraine in Russia, are all the most recent examples of the grave errors of man – the murderous God.
In diplomatic cycles they say, to avoid this genocidal violence, nations must find ways to talk things through. They advise that multilateral fora are best-suited for this type of thing. As they see it, diplomatic politeness grants lawmakers Churchillian cleverness to tell each other to “go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip”.
Last week, to do just that, 55 member states of the African Union jetted to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea for an Extraordinary Summit on Terrorism and Unconstitutional Changes of Government. Basically, they went there for three days (25-28 May) to agree on ways put an end to coups and violent seizure of power in Africa.
By design or default, Malabo was the worst place for that type of discussion. The Equatorial Guinea government is a perfect example why coup d’états shouldn’t happen. Its despotic head of state, Teodoro Obian Nguema Mbasogo, who proudly opened the summit, overthrew his uncle President Francisco Marcía Nguema in a bloody coup in 1979 and he has been in power ever since. Nguema (79) and his family have used the profits from a decades-long boom in the country’s oil industry to secure an almost unshakeable hold on power in Africa’s longest-running dictatorship. AU set there at his behest, costing trillions upon trillions of that country’s Central African francs (CFA) (about R100 million).
Equatorial Guinea is one of the world’s wealthier nations, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) greater than that of Italy, South Korea, or Saudi Arabia. Yet, the country’s tiny population of just above 1.5 million citizens live in miserable poverty.
Over 60% of the population struggles to survive despite abundant natural resources, especially oil and gas. The people are plagued by chronic hunger, a crumbling education system, frequent power blackouts, poor sanitation and disease. The president, his relatives and some of the country’s elite live in brim-full opulence. But the bulk of this wealth is the property of American oil executives from ExxonMobil, Marathon, Amerada Hess or Riggs Bank as well as the two other Houston-based oil-field service firms.
Maybe the AU politely told Nguema to go to hell or not. But as per usual, they came out of that meeting with some resolutions to add to their piling tally of thousands. Let’s swallow that.
But their cool conscience to enjoy so much splendour at the expense of a nation under so much torment is hard to take down. Worst still, they decide to coincided it with Africa Day, just so they take all of us in shame, what a gull! Granted, we are a continent ravaged by “continued proliferation of terrorist groups that threaten peace and security” and it must be addressed urgently. But we are also victims of unrelenting hunger and cruel imperialism. Such lavishness at the expense of the poor is morally odious.
What kind of integrity do those heads of states display by sitting peacefully amidst a sea of poverty to hug and kiss a despot who pours out Africa’s wealth to imperial companies with a clear conscience?
Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu was right. Our leaders, both in the public and the private sector have failed and continue to fail the people.
“Real leadership involves not just mobilising citizens to vote for candidates, (but must also offer) effective management, strategy and execution of public policy. And yet power often is sought for its own sake or to secure control of state resources on behalf of ethnic kin or co-religionists. “Politics is not yet, as it ought to be, a contest of ideas and programs affecting all citizens. Corruption thrives in such an environment,” he says. He argues that this is precisely why Africa’s mineral resources create wealth for others whom are thrown at as raw commodities. “Africa is the world’s richest continent in terms of resource endowments, but at the same time the world’s poorest in terms of income per capita.
“Africa’s future competitiveness and prosperity lie in the opportunities afforded by science, technology and innovation. “From Nairobi to Lagos and Joburg, innovation hubs are springing up. This is not surprising. It is the modern rebirth of Africa’s ancient talents in science, evidenced in the pyramids of Giza, the astronomy of the Dogon tribe in ancient Mali, and the Caesarean sections of nineteenth-century Uganda.” To build the type of Africa, seen through the eyes of Moghalu, we must at least have shame. Next, we must build developmental states and a conscientious citizenry, the type that will rise against corrupt and abusive leaders. For starters, next time when we celebrate the anniversary of the AU and Africa Day, can we please do it with a moral conscience and in such a manner that it gives rise to Africa and her people.

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