President Michael Sata recently opposed a new tax proposal by the African Union (AU) which seeks to introduce a US$10 air levy and $2 on hotel bookings to fund the AU :
Zambia has overpaid for the maintenance of the OAU/AU and all organisations we are affiliated to. Sometimes we pay two years in advance. If the AU has financial problems, let us know what we could do. If we start charging levies on travels and hotels, the people will rise against us. The airlines will lose profits, we are supposed to promote businesses especially that we want to promote our tourism...what we should bear in mind is that apart from the AU, we have more problems in Africa and yesterday we heard about the girl-child and children who are not going to school. If you want us to pay for a particular programme we will but we are not going to levy anybody
President Sata is spot for so many reasons - which are self evident. I am equally impressed with the way the President dealt with another laughable proposal to introduce "African passports". How can you have a common African passport regime when you can't even implement a regional visa regime?
The AU is currently a failed project because everyone is a member from corrupt dictators to reformers. Murderers and saints sit as equals! What Zambia should do is to press for its reform or better for it to be disbanded. The current AU framework is based on being merely African rather than serious economic and democratic principles.
What African leaders need to do is to disband the AU and start again. That is vastly better than the status quo. Countries should be admitted to the AU when they demonstrate to have fulfilled certain criteria. Only then are we going to move towards meaningful African integration. This is the model which the EU has adopted and is quite sensible.
SADC also suffers from the same problem. But there's more hope for SADC from Zambia's perspective. Zambia should not waste time on the AU and certainly not give it any more money! It should focus on making SADC better because it s good for our economy we have a common understanding and shared cultural values. The latter ensures smoother social and economic convergence. In my view Angola and Botswana make better trade and development partners, than our AU friends like Sudan and Libya.
Indeed, the very quest for pan-African integration should be questioned. Why must we integrate Africa as a whole anyway? It is unworkable and unnecessary. Pan Africanists always makes me laugh because they don't live in the real world. Africa is not a country! African countries have to realise that the better approach is support stronger regional clubs.
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013