Former South African President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday that Africans can solve the numerous problems affecting the continent without giving room for external interference which usually comes with interests. Mbeki, who stated this shortly after receiving the Daily Trust African of the Year 2012 Award at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja last night, said the success which the panel he led to resolve the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan remains a reference point in the capacity of Africans to resolve the continent’s conflicts.Former South African President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday that Africans can solve the numerous problems affecting the continent without giving room for external interference which usually comes with interests.
“With what we have done in Sudan, we have demonstrated that it is possible for us to solve our problems. If we allow others to come in they will come with their own interest and provide solutions that will serve their own interest,” he said.
He decried the lacklustre attitude of African leaders towards the conflict in Mali which prompted the French intervention, saying Africa ought to have taken the lead.
Mbeki likened Africa’s response to the Malian conflict to an old adage about a soldier preparing to go to war and decided to sharpen his spear for so long until it disappeared.
“We have sharpened the spear for so long and the French came to our rescue,” he said, warning that allowing foreign intervention creates the risks of falling into the trap of foreign interests.
He lauded the efforts of leaders of the two Sudans, saying their cooperation and common focus had contributed in addressing the issues on ground.
“When unity became impossible and the people of southern Sudan decided to secede, the next challenge became what to do to manage relations between these two states so that they won’t have negative consequences,” he said.
“The leadership of Sudan and South Sudan agreed that they share a common vision to create two viable states; that indeed none of the two states can be viable unless the other was also viable. Therefore there is the common challenge to work together to produce two viable states.”
He noted that of all internal African efforts to solve problems of the continent, the one in Sudan has attracted respect for African leadership.
“Now even the UN security council cannot take any decision on this matter without asking the opinion of the African Union. It therefore demonstrates that we have the capacity as Africans to take charge of our own destiny; to refuse to be marginalised or be dictated to,” he added.
The Daily Trust African of the Year award was instituted in 2008 to recognise ordinary African who have done extra-ordinarily well in their chosen endeavours.
Little-known doctor Dr. Dennis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo received the maiden award in 2008, followed by Nigerian academic Dr Tajuddeen Abdulraheem in 2009, South African sports administrator Danny Jordan in 2010 and Nigerien jurist Fatimata Bazeye in 2011.
Presentation of the 2012 award was initially scheduled to hold in January but was postponed till last night to enable Mr. Mbeki personally attend.