Norman Mlambo, a senior official in the AU Peace and Security Department, told a briefing of African MPs drawn from 14 countries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week that the continental body was hamstrung by a number of factors in dealing with undemocratic regimes in Africa and it was up to member states to trigger their own processes towards democratisation.
The African MPs were attending an Inter-Parliamentary Dialogue on Climate Change in relation to peace and security at the AU headquarters organised by the Friedrich Ebert Siftung Foundation.
Mlambo was responding to MDC-T MP for Musikavanhu constituency Prosper Mutseyami, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs, who had asked what the AU has been doing to deal with dictators in Africa.
Mlambo said the AU was very concerned about dictatorship in Africa and had put in place protocols that encouraged democracy. He said the AU’s Political Affairs Department had recently passed a document which encourages democracy and criminalises the unconstitutional change of government in a member state.
“This indicates that the AU is trying to do something about democracy. Of course, there are still areas where leaders refuse to go after losing elections or change the constitution. These are issues that are happening in member states and it is up to the member states to deal with them, but the AU is always ready to help in such situations,” said Mlambo.
He said the democratisation process on the African continent was not an event but an ongoing process in which citizens in every member state were participating.
“At the moment I don’t think we can make a pronouncement as to whether we have arrived to a democracy or not. We face a lot of challenges which you are all aware of. It is up to the political processes in the member states and you as politicians. It is your job to bring democracy to your countries. You don’t have to wait for the AU to bring you democracy,” Mlambo said.
The AU has been accused of turning a blind eye to genocide in countries like Sudan and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and other countries.