AU must address Africa issues even-handedly

20 January 2019 - 00:00 By SUNDAY TIMES

The African Union (AU) has committed to sending a high-level delegation to investigate allegations of vote-rigging in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has asked the authorities in that country to suspend the announcement of final results of the elections late last month. The country is on a knife edge; Martin Fayulu is challenging the results of the official electoral commission, which declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the winner.
Fayulu and his supporters suspect that outgoing president Joseph Kabila has entered into an unholy agreement with Tshisekedi to keep the presidential seat warm for a term, so that Kabila can make a dramatic return in the next elections.
Kabila, they say, wants to block anti-corruption crusader Fayulu from succeeding him. AU leaders have moved swiftly, and stated they will not wait for the DRC's highest court to deliver its judgment. The move by the AU must be commended. But it must show the same leadership across the continent.
Just across the Limpopo River a time bomb is about to explode. The official Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change has been pleading for SA's intervention following violent protests against steep fuel increases. There are reports of citizens being brutally attacked by security forces.
It is a repeat of the Robert Mugabe era, which shows Zimbabweans only changed the driver - the bus is still heading in the same direction. There is a serious threat of civil war should a solution not be found. An unstable Zimbabwe will most likely cause a migration crisis in the region.
In East Africa, Kenyans are mourning yet another terrorist attack, which left at least 21 dead. It is not enough for the AU Commission to condemn the incident. There must be a proper plan in place to deal with Al-Shabaab in East Africa and with Boko Haram in Nigeria. The reactionary approach by the AU to continental issues must stop.
Had the AU spoken out earlier when Kabila delayed elections for years after his mandate expired, maybe the DRC would not be facing this crisis. And had stern action been taken against Mugabe when he unleashed violence on citizens, Emmerson Mnangagwa would not be emulating him.

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