Open letter to President Ramaphosa: Your silence on Africa is deafening 

Dear Mr President,

Over the past few months, under the cover of the global Covid-19 pandemic, our continent and her people have been suffering due to unrelenting violence and it is now time to let your voice as African Union (AU) Chairperson be heard.

I understand that the Covid-19 pandemic has placed South Africa, like so many other countries around the world, in turmoil, but your silence on what is happening in the rest of Africa can unfortunately be read as condonement of the violence unleashed upon our brothers and sisters.

I would like to highlight some of these events, all of which I’m sure you’ve been made aware:

  • The Zambian National Democratic leader, Dr Chishimba Kambwili, has been imprisoned on account of forgery. This questionable incident was followed with the arrest and humiliation of his wife and daughter. Your silence on the Zambian president jailing an opposition leader for the second time before an election does little to inspire confidence in internal investors and the rest of the continent.
  • While Guinean President, Alpha Condo’s running for a third term in office is problematic, of major concern it the violence that followed an opposition candidate’s announcement that the election was rigged and that he had in fact won.
  • Attacks by an unidentified task team on peaceful protestors against Nigeria’s controversial SARS unit that have targeted innocent have made international headlines. There have been many casualties and while this caused Nigerians in South Africa to march to the embassy in Pretoria and President Muhammadu Buhari to deny that this unit was part of his army, the AU chairperson has not been quoted once in any of the stories.
  • Violence have marred the pending Ivory Coast elections after presidential candidate Amadou Gon Coulibaly died of a heart attack in July and current president Alassane Ouattara decided to run for a third term. Opposition parties have called for a boycott to the election and civil disobedience and people have already died during clashes before the election this weekend. Given the state of affairs, will the AU be able to back its original assessment of a free and fair election process leading up to this date?

Mr President, as Chairperson of the AU you must speak out on these matters that deeply affect our fellow African states. These events pose a serious threat to democracies on the continent and must be condemned in the strongest terms.