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Democratic Political Leadership: Precondition for continential union
Interview with Arnold Tsunga, Extracted from Pambazuka News 300
April 20, 2007

Arnold Tsunga is a lawyer based in Harare with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. In March, Saloman Kebede interviewed him on the upcoming Grand Debate on Continental Government during the next African Union Summit, June - July 2007. The full proposal being considered by the Heads of States can be viewed at

SK: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current proposal for Continental Union?

AT: The recommendations in the Study for Continental Government are not currently binding. Our leaders will end up doing what favours their governments as opposed to what would be of benefit to Africa as a whole. This weakens proposal. The appalling state of leadership is a great misfortune in Africa and has victimized citizens through the violation of human rights in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda and elsewhere. The strength of this proposal shall lie in its ability to uphold the status of human rights in Africa and address situations in particular countries where democracy has been abused.

SK: Should it be adopted in Accra in July 2007, what would you like to see the African Union Commission achieve within the first phase (2007-2009)?

AT: Enable Africa meet the Millennium Development Goals. As the African Union is still a growing institution, civil society organizations can assist to ensure good political leadership and the governance that will guarantee that Africa meets the MDGs.

SK: And why would this form of continental union be important to African citizens & particular the poor and marginalized?

AT: It is important for Africa to have a unified focus and accountability as a continent.

SK: How could states and non-states ensure that continental union efforts are transparent, participatory and driven by an appreciation of political and economic rights?

AT: The effective involvement of grass root communities is central to its success. We must consider the power of civil society actors, the power of human right defenders and the power of political activists on the ground. We must take into account what they say and try to implement.

SK: What obstacles must the AU overcome for the continental union to be successful?

AT: The AU should do away with the culture of a leadership uniting against its own people. They instead must empower the people to facilitate development.

SK: In what policy area, would you like to see greater convergence and unity across Africa and why?

AT: Economic integration.

This interview is the first of several interviews with African citizens and CSO leaders on the AU proposal for Continental Government. Emily Mghanga of Pan Africa Programme Oxfam edited this interview. The views expressed here are the perspectives of the interviewee. Arnold Tsunga can be reached at Email: Please send comments to or comment online at

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