Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s acknowledgement that Africa needs to “refine its instruments to deal with unconstitutional changes of government” has been rubbished by top military analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman.
He also took exception to her plea for the continent to be allocated at least two seats in a reformed UN Security Council.
Addressing the world body’s top structure, she said the refinement could be one way of “dissuading the emerging patterns of illegitimate rebellions being transformed into legitimate partners in government of national unity”.
The Pretoria-based analyst’s first question to Nkoana-Mashabane is: “Why has South Africa recognised the seizure of power by Seleka (rebels in the Central African Republic)?”
Heitman also asked why the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) did not ask South Africa to use its forward deployed forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) to immediately evict Seleka before they could settle in and begin to eliminate or at least intimidate inconvenient people.
“For that matter, why did the FOMAC [Multinational Force for Central Africa] force, after promising to hold the ‘red line’ at Damara, simply step aside without firing a shot?”
Yesterday President Jacob Zuma received the CAR Prime Minister, Nicholas Tiangaye, in Pretoria and discussed the situation in CAR and the need to bring about stability in that country and the African continent.
Zuma and Tiangaye agreed to strengthen relations between the two countries and on the importance of the attainment of peace and stability in the continent, the Presidency said. Zuma also accepted Tiangaye’s condolences to the people of South Africa and families of the 13 soldiers who lost their lives in Bangui last month.
On the question of two Security Council seats for Africa, Heitman wanted to know: “what does Africa do for the world other than cost money spent on development aid that somehow never leads to development and on peacekeeping missions that do not seem to work well?
“Is it simply because we have 900 million or so people? But then China and India should each have at least two permanent seats,” he said.
Heitman also questioned the Minister’s statement that, “conflicts have substantially decreased in the past decade since the formation of the AU with its peace and security architecture”.
Referring to 2008 statistics, because newer ones are not readily available, Heitman points out that four African countries were fighting major guerrilla wars, eight were fighting minor guerrilla wars, three faced secessionist struggles, five were suffering terrorist attacks, one faced combined army and police mutinies, four were still suffering quite heavy fighting after civil wars that had supposedly been brought to an end and one did not function as a state at all.
That totals 26 of the 53 countries on the African continent.
“Those figures are valid for the first eight years of the AU’s existence. A scan of the continent today would not show much improvement,” he said.
Heitman was also sceptical of Nkoana-Mashabane’s “improvements” in conflicts in Burundi, Sudan and South Sudan, the DRC and Somalia.
“Burundi is beginning to unravel again (South Africa did not stay long enough; those situations require a generation change); Sudan suffers multiple insurgencies as it has for a long time, with Darfur in particular hotting up once more; South Sudan suffers major internal tribal and other clashes and is probably being destabilised by Sudan. I am not aware of much improvement in the DRC – the east is a disaster area, Katanga is becoming unstable and the north will be destabilised by the events in the CAR; and Somalia is far from a done deal.
“I note she said nothing about the growing influence of Colombian and Venezuelan narcotics groups in West Africa, nor of the deteriorating situation in Nigeria,” he added.