AFRICA’S Ministers of Justice and Legal Affairs and Attorneys-General, who are responsible for upholding the law on the continent, met over two days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, recently.
TANONOKA JOSPEH WHANDE
These are men and women who give legal advice to their presidents and heads of state; people who map national laws and are expected to uphold the rule of law on our continent.
These are the custodians of Africa’s laws and are responsible for keeping the law among Africa’s 1,1 billion inhabitants.
According to an African Union (AU) Commission press release, participants included Ministers of Justice/Attorneys-General, ministers responsible for issues such as human rights, constitutionalism and rule of law, legal experts from AU member states, representatives from the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
It was a big indaba indeed!
The AU has 14 objectives, three of which are “to promote peace, security, and stability on the continent”, “to promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance”, and “to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant human rights instruments”.
But this gathering of law experts had varied agendas.
“With a mission to develop instruments that reflect the collective shared values of the AU member states”, the meeting was set to consider, among others, draft agendas ranging from cross-border co-operation, cyber-security, to the protocol on the establishment of the African Monetary Fund. The participants even intended to debate what they called “a draft of African Model Law on Biosafety”.
It remains a mystery as to how these learned men and women ended up not only discussing but also demanding immunity for “sitting African leaders for their part in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity”.
It is of concern why Africa’s leaders want this. I am not in a position to chronicle atrocities committed by leaders of other countries outside Africa. My concern right now is why a group of legal experts from Africa’s countries, and with the blessing of the AU, would gather to demand immunity for crimes committed or to be committed.
Currently, African leaders show deplorable attitudes towards the lives of their citizens. They have become more of security risks to their own people than terrorists are. They abuse and steal from national coffers.
What really is wrong with African leaders? How do they corrupt men and women who slave for decades to achieve international status as law experts, but who then willingly fight to defeat the legal machinery for which they worked so hard to be part of?
Is this terrorism of a sort that is now coming from our legal wing of the world?
After what we have witnessed under President Robert Mugabe, how much more freedom to abuse us does he want?
If we in Zimbabwe look at the way government is behaving, we can see that this cancer was born well before Independence. It is clear that from the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands, murders of opposition party supporters to the current national embarrassment of flood victims sheltered at Chingwizi camp, the culture of evil and not serving and protecting is Zanu PF’s aim.
Now the leaders want immunity, not only over what crimes they have already committed, but for crimes they intend to commit in the future.
If they are going to kill us all, they will have to do it without our consent or permission. I do not see how we can give our leader a legal platform to kill us. He has already done that; he has already destroyed the nation.
Africa’s leaders are collectively responsible for the deterioration of our continent and the deaths of more of our compatriots than those we lost during colonial times.
African presidents should neither ask nor be granted a blank cheque to continue with the abuse, murder and freedom to abuse public funds. It took us so long to be where we are.
Africa first suffered under colonial rule. Why, God, why do Africans have to suffer worse under their own?
How much can the African people take; how much can we forgive when our leaders kill our children and destroy our schools, industry and livelihoods?
We have a backlog of African leaders to prosecute over issues of political murders and abuse of power, and we are not in a position to offer them further leeway to continue and do worse under a legal framework.
We are at the mercy of our leaders. If we elected them, why are they abusing their own nations?
As we progress as nations, as a people, we leave marks. We leave trails like snails and can never run away from ourselves.
But we cannot give our signatures to permit a group of self-serving leaders to do as they please with us. Laws are meant to curtail their excesses; laws give us boundaries to enjoy freedom without taking away from others.
Laws, like the Bible is to our existence, are a “how to” manuals, telling us about all the freedom we deserve from our country and protection we expect from our government and how to use it.
Laws keep us equal and for the AU to be part to such despicable motives is unacceptable.
We want democracy in Africa. We want to be able to care for our families. We want our governments to protect us as we go about working for the betterment of our families and for the strengthening of our countries.
Why do African leaders want immunity?
Why do they want to do anything that demands of them to seek immunity? What are they up to? They are doing bad enough as it is. And they are doing it without anyone’s permission.
I can be persuaded to understand that there is always a seed that falls on rocks or bad soil; that there will always be sperm that cannot swim. I may be persuaded that there is always a rotten apple or tomato that spoils the whole bunch, but I will be damned if I am persuaded to grant all of Africa’s leaders immunity to kill our defenceless people at will without consequences.
This is an absolute outrage.
These presidents and heads of states seek their own authority and protection for themselves from the same courts we would, without choice, be compelled to approach to seek recourse after abuse by these same leaders.
The AU is a shameful organisation. Those interested in promoting the retardation of Africa should applaud and congratulate the AU because no colonial power, president or king has destroyed Africa more than the AU.
But we cannot cry to the AU because it was created for the purpose of protecting evil African leaders, and is doing a good job of it.
We cannot cry to Sadc because it was created for the same purpose of abusing people and keeping quiet when atrocities are being committed against innocent people.
Whande is a journalist and writes in his personal capacity.