It was easy to ignore Africa because it was always looking for donors to help it do things, African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told students.
Speaking at Wits last night, Dlamini-Zuma said Africa needed to become economically strong and self-reliant to influence global affairs.
She said a “modern continent” with a two billion-strong population would be a force to be reckoned with in future. However, this would not happen until the continent had people with skills, strong economies and strong markets.
Responding to a question about the need to reform the United Nations’ Security Council, she said the institution still reflected power relations between countries after World War II.
Many African countries were still not represented, she said, but part of the problem is that the countries that need to reform it have powers to veto changes.
“Yes, we must fight for reform, but we must keep strengthening ourselves so that in the end, our voice will be such that we cannot be ignored.
“But we should still continue pushing for the reform because it’s right to do so. It is democratic, it is just,” she said.
The African Union is due to hold an extraordinary summit next Saturday to discuss Kenya’s problems with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Both that country’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his deputy, William Ruto, face charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC in the Hague in the Netherlands relating to their role in the violence that ensued after Kenya’s 2007 elections.
Kenya’s parliament has voted to pull out of the ICC, and the ANC leadership on Sunday accused the court of representing “inequality before world justice” and of being used to effect a judicial coup in Kenya.
It said President Jacob Zuma should not break ranks with fellow African leaders on the matter at the meeting.
Dlamini-Zuma said she did not know what the African heads of state would decide on the debate, but expressed concern that Kenyatta and Ruto would be forced to spend a lot of time at the court at the same time because an NGO had appealed the court’s decision to allow them to attend the beginning and the end of each session of their trials.
She said the case presented a problem because Kenyan supreme law does not allow both the president and his deputy to be out of the country at the same time.
“So it means if one is sitting at the Hague, the other cannot leave Kenya. But then what complicated the matter further is that in November/December, there is a session where both have to be at the Hague. This creates a constitutional problem.
“But not only that. Kenya is celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence. And that day of celebration is on the 12th of December, and then the ICC decides that that session be finished on the 13th of December. That means both the president and the vice president should be at the Hague when the country celebrates its anniversary.
“These are the kind of things that created a problem, and they have asked now for an extra-ordinary summit to discuss this matter,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma said there was nothing in the AU meeting’s agenda about withdrawal from the ICC, and said Africa was not in favour of impunity.
Earlier, ANC Youth League leader Mzwandile Masina had suggested the ICC was controlled by people who were not its signatories, saying Africa needed to create its own institutions.
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