On July 1, 2007 African leaders descended on Accra Ghana to attend the ninth African Union Summit themed the “Great Debate on the Union Government”.
Botswana was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mompati Merafhe who revealed that the purpose of the summit had been set by African leaders at a January 2007 summit in Addis Ababa.
In an interview with The Sunday Standard, on Friday, Minister Merafhe spelt out the preparations.
According to him in 1991, the Abuja Treaty was adopted by African leaders. The treaty was to strive to unite Africa’s five economic groupings, such as SADC and COMESA, which would be merged into one and result in a Union Government. There has, however, been regression instead. Rather than uniting, these groupings have grown in number. Africa now has eight economic groupings and some of these economic groupings are duplicating the efforts of others.
Rather than provide the expected progress the go slow process has seen some African leaders complicate the process further.
Merafhe says before Africa can even discuss such a union, solutions to a list of issues must be sought. The issues in question include policy convergence, adherence to human rights, economic development, national identity, lack of shared values and sovereignty.
In his opening speech to the Accra summit, Alpha Oumar Konare, the AU’s top diplomat, also supported the ideal of a united Africa but he, however, echoed some of Merafhe’s sentiments about the growing number of pan-African bodies and regional economic blocs. Konare hinted to the African leaders that the “future” of these bodies should be debated.
Merafhe, on his part, goes further than Konare, and says that efforts have to be made by individual member countries to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.