The African Leadership Forum 2017: Promoting peace and security for an integrated, united and sustainable Africa

ALF LogoThe fourth African Leadership Forum, an annual event convened by H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania was held in Johannesburg  from the 24th – 25th of August, 2017. With the theme of “Peace and Security for an Integrated, United and Sustainable Africa”, this year the Forum was co-convened by H.E. Mkapa and H.E. Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa. The organisation of the Forum was managed by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation and UONGOZI Institute, and was supported by the Wits School of Governance, South Africa.

The African Leadership Forum brings together Former Heads of State as well as leaders from all sectors across Africa to discuss pressing issues affecting Africa’s sustainable development endeavors.

Peace and security in Africa is of great concern not only because of the fatal consequences that result from its absence but because much of Africa shall continue to be very poor without sustained peace and security. Further, to achieve the goals of effective integration, unity and sustainable development within and amongst African nations, it is fundamental that there is peace and security.

The Forum sought to understand what the persistent challenges to peace and security are, and to deliberate on what are some of the feasible solutions.

Seven former African Heads of State were in attendance, including H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, H.E. Bakili Muluzi, former President of Malawi; H.E. Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia; H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania; and H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, former President of Somalia. The Forum was also attended by over 100 key African leaders and thinkers that are currently or had previously worked on issues of peace and security.

The Forum, which took place over one and a half days, consisted of a plenary session with a Keynote Address from H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria followed by a panel discussion on ‘Cementing Foundations for Sustainable Peace and Security’. Two other panel discussions were held on the first day, with one on ‘Moving Towards Inclusiveness’ and the second on ‘Good Governance and the Rule of Law’.

The public plenary panel discussion on ‘Cementing Foundations for Sustainable Peace and Security’ included H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, H.E. Moncef Marzouki of Tunisia, Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia; Prof. Funmi Olonisakin, Director of the African Leadership Centre, King’s college, London; and Mr. Francois Louceny Fall, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Africa.

The panel focused on the common foundations of peace and security and how to cement them for the attainment of overall peace across the continent; what some of the achievements have been, some of the drawbacks, and what initiatives need to be reassessed to ascertain their effectiveness in enabling and supporting lasting peace and security in Africa.

The second panel discussion on ‘Moving Towards Inclusiveness’ had H.E. Thabo Mbeki of South Africa; H.E. Bakili Muluzi of Malawi; Ms. Abbey Chikane, Chair of Sub Sahara Investment Holdings and former Chair of the Kimberley Process; and Mr. Ayabongwa Cawe, Economic Justice Programme Manager at Oxfam South Africa  as panelists.

This panel discussed how inequalities and exclusions have been the root of many conflicts across the continent, and how economic exclusion fails to provide equal economic opportunities in terms of employment and access to financial products and services, which can alienate people from their broader society and cause preventable tensions that may escalate to become conflicts, and thus inhibit peace.

The fourth panel on ‘Good Governance and the Rule of Law’ included H.E. Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania; H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia; Hon. Justice Bart M. Katureebe, Chief Justice of Uganda; and Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan African Parliament.

The panel discussed the ideal of good governance as it relates to Africa, and how it may be difficult to achieve in its entirety, as it is all encompassing, including characteristics such as adherence to the rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus building, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability, and participation. As the absence of one or more of these characteristics can sometimes lead to tensions, the panel discussed how best to uphold good governance and the rule of law in Africa in order to promote sustainable peace and security.

On the second day, H.E. Thabo Mbeki began with a presentation on ‘Africa’s Position in the Global Peace and Security Architecture’ which was followed by two breakout sessions chaired by H.E. Benjamin Mkapa and H.E. Moncef Marzouki on ‘International Factors Shaping Peace and Security Responses’ and Aligning National, Continental and International Peace and Security Frameworks’ respectively, and culminated with the closing plenary.

Below is a summary, with recommendations, of the Statement of the Forum:

In the wake of increasing global security concerns, Africa cannot afford to be a bystander in its development trajectory at the expense of its sustainability nor a global player with divided interests that are of little benefit to the people of the continent.  In the words of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Africa needs to ensure that it has “the capacity to manage conflict…and must rely less on peacekeepers from outside.  We need less politics and more altruistic governments; African Solutions to African Problems.”

It is in the interests of the continent to unite and re-establish a stronger continental commitment to the African Renaissance, economically, politically and socially.  To accomplish that vision and make it a reality, we need continental leadership, governments, civil society and African business to place the well-being of the people of this continent at the forefront of their endeavours.  African development and sustainability depends on the cooperative, responsible and accountable efforts of all those who live within its precinct, and contribute towards its development.

We call upon African leadership at all levels to advocate for stronger national and regional institutions to protect the continent, for they are imperative.  We ask that the African commerce and development sectors commit to the developmental and financial sustainability of our institutions of governance to ensure the continent’s inclusive economic development and guardianship of its growing adherence to good governance.

The responsibility of good governance is the duty of all those who live and do business in the continent and in the words of former President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, “the commitment of African political leadership to this end should serve as an example to the people of the continent.”

Furthermore in Kikwete’s words, “it is important for Africa to remember to look at where we come from and where we are and to continue to say there has been progress.  We are not yet at the most optimal point, but we should not get to a point where we say everything in Africa is bad; because there are so many good things happening.  The pursuit of good governance is a work in progress”.

There is a need for this ‘work in progress’ to translate into an increasingly African way of doing that is rooted in African culture.

It is thus that the delegates of the African Leadership Forum ask that Africans renew their commitment to the continent with the following recommendations:

  • Africa should hear its own voice on matters of peace, security and sustainable development through increased and improved national dialogue; and by taking ownership of its peace and security concerns in matters of policy and political interventions.
  • Africa should shape the dialogue around the continent’s vision and create its own roadmap for sustained peace and stability. It should communicate with a unified voice, working on behalf of its own interests and the interests of its people for inclusive economic development and a growing adherence towards good governance.
  • Africa should insist on taking its rightful position at the forefront of defining Africa’s role in the global peace and security architecture, by providing decisive and purposeful political leadership on international matters pertaining to Africa.
  • Africa must resist the increasing militarisation of Africa’s peace and security architecture, especially relating to arms trade, terrorism, and the tendency of allowing managers of the African security sector to be trained by outsiders with external agendas.
  • African citizens should strive to develop a strong democratic consciousness that will lead to a culture of growing leadership, deepening democracy and enhancing civic education. This vision of Africans shaping their personal and collective destiny must be taken forward by Africa’s most valuable asset: its youth.

After supporting the organization of the African Leadership Forum for four years, UONGOZI Institute is pleased with the outcome of the ALF 2017. This meeting, in particular, has generated a lot of discussion in Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria and beyond.

It is important to note that the ALF 2017 focused on the bigger picture issues of peace and security that affect the African continent which each country can draw lessons from. No special attention was paid to any particular country or government, and the recommendations that ultimately came out of the Forum reflected the same. It is therefore cautioned, that the rich discussion that took place at the African Leadership Forum 2017, and the statements made by the former Presidents and other participants in attendance should not be taken out of context.

The plenary session of the ALF 2017 is currently available to view on UONGOZI Institute’s website: www.uongozi.or.tz. The subsequent panel discussions will be made available on our website soon.

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