Africa's Diversity Makes a Common Ideologically Based Foreign Policy Difficult (Umaizi)

As President Uhuru Kenyatta was making a passionate plea for an African Court at the AU Summit, Cameroonian soldiers were shelling Boko Haram hideouts; and while AU was electing a 91-year-old as it’s face of the future, Ghanaian universities were partnering with General Electric on oil and gas.
In Mozambique, there was an outbreak of cholera. At the same time, the aftermath of Ebola continues to ravage parts of West Africa as millions of East and Central Africans faced starvation. That is the diversity that characterizes Africa.
Mr Kenyatta has cut a niche for himself as one of the most eloquent and articulate African presidents. Whereas he and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe might share a “disdain” for the West, the two are as different as day and night.
Mr Kenyatta is as Western as they come. You can confuse his speeches as those of an American with a Kenyan accent. His campaign style and public relations is a look in the mirror of the Obama mantra. On the other hand, Mugabe represents everything past, including Pan Africanism, brotherhood and African pride.
In 2013-2014, Kenyatta succeeded where his father Jomo, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and Julius Nyerere had failed. He got African countries to speak in one voice against the ICC. His legal defence team played their game so masterfully, even big boys on the world scene took note.
But in sharp contrast to AU’s unanimous push to end the Kenyan cases, this year’s AU summit ended with only Benin and Guinea Bissau joining Kenya in ratifying the Malabo protocol that would establish the African ICC.
Kenya lobbied hard on the sidelines of the summit. But did it consider the timing, with so many elections on the continent? Did it consult widely before making the pitch? It is against a backdrop of competing interests that Kenya sought to lobby its peers. Inadvertently, the push is confirmation that crimes against humanity are prevalent on the continent.
The proponents of the court argue that it would approach African cases before it from an African perspective. But why an African perspective in the application of international laws that apply to all humans? Crimes against humanity do not know colour or geography.
The fact that Luis Moreno Ocampo and Fatou Bensouda both did a shoddy job does not mean ICC should not handle African cases. Perhaps African member states should push for changes within The Hague court; establish clear rules of jurisdiction, accountability on the part of the prosecutor and demand that the court sits in neighbouring countries whenever a head of state is indicted.

Developing a country’s foreign policy is a challenging balancing act. Developing one for a region is even more tasking. To draft such a policy in a competitive, globalised world is a tall order. Kenya, for instance may want to sever ties with the West but that does not mean Tanzania or Ghana will follow suit.
Africa has four subgroups with different socialization. Francophone Africa which comprises mainly small war torn West African countries. Anglophone countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana that are viewed as more pragmatic and somehow still joined at the hip with Western nations.
There is also the issue of North African Muslim countries, which identify more with the Middle East.Lusophone Africa is a small group of Portuguese speaking countries often detached from the rest of Africa on many fronts.
Merging the interests of these groups is, therefore, a Herculean task. Countries and regions earn their place at the table; they do not get on rooftops and make demands. They must have something to offer in return. Fortunately, Africa has a lot to offer.
To influence world politics, African countries must first earn the confidence of their citizens by creating conditions for good governance and stability. Leaders must conduct mature politics, fight corruption and impunity on their own volition and build democratic institutions. The US and China are able to shape world policies because of their economic muscle. Their foreign policies are written for posterity.
Daily Nation Copyright 2015

Source: Politics