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Schlettwein bashes United Nations, African Union

Minister of agriculture, water and land reform Calle Schlettwein has taken a swipe at the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN), labelling the organisations as “indecisive” and “seriously skewed”, respectively.

Schlettwein, who was yesterday speaking at the Africa Climate Summit in Kenya, lashed out at the two bodies, highlighting that they are meant to deal with political problems on the continent.

“We (Africa) are having a political crisis with war and political instability on the rise,” he said.

Schlettwein labelled the UN as “seriously skewed and no longer fit”, saying they are excluding the majority from decision-making.

“Our own AU lacks the decisiveness to address continental political instability,” the minister said.

He said the continent should completely stop all illicit outflows, which involve revenue due to Africa.

“Our natural endowment must generate the commensurate rate of return needed to achieve our prosperity targets. We cannot continue to sell our minerals, metals and other natural assets for what others determine,” he said.

Namibia joined Uganda this year to ban the export of unprocessed lithium and other critical minerals.

Schlettwein said the current international financial architecture shows its age and is not able to deal with a globalised world any more.

“Currently, the debt crisis, exchange trends and the weaponisation of financial rules are fuelling inequality and making the future prospects of developing economies difficult,” the minister said.

The past two years have brought deadly internationalised civil wars to Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The situation in the central Sahel shows no sign of improving, with armed groups destabilising swathes of it and seeking footholds elsewhere.

Somalia, Mozambique and other countries, such as in the Lake Chad Basin, continue to battle jihadist insurgencies.
Intercommunal fighting rages in South Sudan.

Previously the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation came out in defence of the African Union, saying it is typical of critics to dwell on the negative.

“To say that the AU, the Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth are toothless is misleading and based on a lack of understanding of what these organisations do.

“You have to read the AU Constitutive Act and measure it against the steps taken,” the ministry has previously said.

It further said the AU, aware of the setback in development resulting from the disruption of the constitutional order, has decided to suspend the membership of any country whose government has come to power through unconstitutional means.

Photo: UN


Political analyst Rui Tyitende says Schlettwein was preaching to the wrong crowd.

“We cannot lecture a continental body that is ladened with weak and failing governments, factionalised elites, rebel-infested regions and heightened levels of insecurity and instability. He addressed the wrong audience,” he says.

Tyitende says Namibia itself has not dealt with the issues Schlettwein is referring to.

“For instance, lamenting that the continent ‘should aim for a high middle-income status with a Gini coefficient of three, which could be a realistic benchmark’ is highly ambitious as Namibia has consistently been ranked as the second-most unequal country in the world over the years,” he says.

Tyitende is accusing the government of using “ill-conceived” policies to craft inequality and poverty.

“Therefore, what is the Namibian government’s track record on the issues raised by Schlettwein? What is our water security situation and levels of poverty? What is the propensity for conflict to erupt should the status quo remain?

“That is a strong and insightful statement that should have been made first to the entire Namibian Cabinet with clear repercussions if not followed through,” he says.

“Not only is he playing the old and time-tested blame game the continent has been singing, but also the usual begging for others to do things for us, the continent,” Kamwanyah says.

He blames the leadership for contributing to the continent’s challenges.

“Yes, the global financial arrangement and the multilateral system need reform, but it will do little if the continent does not reform itself.

“As much as the continent is not happy with the current world order, we must also advance our own initiated agendas,” he says.

Earlier this year, Cristina Duarte, special adviser on Africa to the United Nations secretary general, said the African perspective has been insufficiently incorporated in global discussions on peace and security on the continent.

She emphasised the importance of addressing the internal and external root causes of conflicts in Africa beyond the traditional response, which only tackled their symptoms, adding that only development would create the capacity to help African countries overcome peace and security challenges.

Duarte highlighted the impact of colonialism on the continent’s current governance shortcomings, saying it led to the formation of three geographies: the administrative territory of a country, determined by its borders – one reflecting pre-existing sociocultural groups, which transcends the boundaries of one country, and another reflecting the actual presence of the state, which tended to be concentrated in a few urban centres.

On transboundary movements, which are perceived as threats and often spark ineffective attempts to close borders, she said: “You cannot contain a historical reality that goes beyond the borders.”

Instead, integration needs to be accelerated through the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, among other measures, she said.