The setbacks in the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) relations because of disagreements over European Union (EU) payments to troops in the AU mission in Somalia, is another sickening show of dependency. It is good news collaboration between the two has improved, however, the deep-seated frustrations over financing and each other’s perceived deficiencies which persist is likely to last for as long as certain key issues are not addressed.
African officials want a sense of autonomy which is likely not to be attained if they remain dependent on handouts from the EU. African officials should not complain if the EU imposes its own programs and priorities on the AU and not to respect theirs. If the AU wants her voice heard, she should be financially independent. It is normal for the EU to want to be more than just a donor, to want a greater say in when, where and how its money is spent, to ensure its contributions are utilised effectively. If the AU wants to run her affairs with no interference, she should fund her affairs with no dependency. It is not out of place to require more transparency and accountability from the AU considering how corrupt and greedy many African leaders are.
Migration and security concerns which are a bother to both continents are rooted in financial mismanagements, exclusion/inequality and religion. Using colonialism as an excuse for dependency will not foster but hamper AU’s maturity and independence. With her enormous natural and human resources, Africa can take charge of her business and have a more powerful voice at negotiation tables. Unfortunately, with the level of embezzlement, corruption, lack of patriotism and greed among African leaders, the AU will keep ‘begging’ from the EU, and the cycle of frustration and distrust between the parties will continue. When these two elephants fight, the masses continue to suffer.
In an attempt to lessen the AU’s dependence on external donors, member states have committed, in principle, to significantly increase their funding for peace and security activities. This move will only be worth applauding when it is implemented. Until then, African leaders should work on being accountable and having good governance, and then she will be able to call her shots. If the AU and the EU have frustrations and distrusts dealing with each other, the solution is independence for respect.