The African Union should work more closely with BRICS

By Abbey Makoe

The bulk of the African Union (AU) member-states have recently indicated their intention to withdraw from The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC). The move comes in the wake of a rapidly changing world order since the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States.

President Trump’s unconventional, if not unorthodox approach to international relations and diplomacy continues to rattle the establishment across the globe. This of course is due in part to the fact that being the leader of arguably the world’s only remaining super-power since the end of the Cold War, Trump wields enormous power to make or break a world that cries out for that scarce commodity – moral leadership.

The “Donald Trump phenomenon” has taken the world by storm.
It is not only on the African continent that the collective leadership at the AU level is working out how to deal with a hugely unpredictable Trump presidency.
The European Union, too, is nervous at the thought of an aloof American president. This is further exacerbated by the UK’s surprise, if not shocking referendum choice to leave the EU (Brexit) which has unsettled the once totally connected union.
The far right parties in France, Germany and the Netherlands are also threatening to usurp power, buoyed by the Trump’s larger-than-life victorious streak.

Latin America, which is geographically in close proximity to the belly of the beast, so to speak, is also teetering on the brink of unprecedented regional tension with Trump’s expressed desire to make good on his electioneering threat to build a wall that separates Mexico from the most viable economy in the world.

Africa is rising

Amid all the global uncertainty, Africa is rising.
There seems to be a lot more socio-economic opportunities on the African continent than anywhere in the world at the moment.

I have argued before, and I repeat the argument, that through South Africa’s membership of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) the entire continent stands to benefit.
That out of the 5 members of the group 2 – Russia and China – are permanent members of United Nations Security Council – and possess veto powers ought to auger well for the developing world.

In other words, the AU could, and should, foster closer ties with BRICS, perhaps under the appreciation of “unity of purpose”, and work towards achieving common goals. The mooted BRICS Bank continues to be one of the greatest innovations, and the mooted ratings agency working closer with the group is a noble idea too.

The recently elected Chair of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has promised reforms under his new leadership.
The AU’s powerful theme is: “Towards a peaceful, prosperous and Integrated Africa.”
Since the inception of the AU’s predecessor – the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 – unity and collective prosperity have been the key pillars of the continent.

The recent re-integration of Morocco back into the AU, despite reservations from countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc, should be viewed in the positive light of dealing with the challenges of Morocco from within rather than from outside.

The SADC member states’ opposition to Morocco’s re-admission to the AU was as a result of Morroco’s occupation of Western Sahara which is deemed illegal and as oppressive as Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. However, just as the AU was able to resolve the recent political stand-off in Gambia, surely the continental body should be able to resolve the crisis in Morocco. Indeed, African solutions to African problems is no longer an empty slogan, it is real.

And as our continent moves forward, everything need to be done bearing in mind that the AU’s Agenda 2055 can be achieved when we work together, and above all, we choose our friends carefully.

The original version of this article was published on the South African Broadcasting Corporation blog.