Thabo Mbeki Exposes Africa’s Struggle with Implementation Gap

Former President Thabo Mbeki recently addressed the media during a briefing held by his foundation in Conakry, Guinea, on the occasion of Africa Day. Mbeki highlighted the existence of protocols and instruments for problem-solving on the African continent but expressed concern about the lack of effective implementation. This article delves into Mbeki’s observations, focusing on the challenges faced in implementing conflict resolution protocols in Africa. It explores the significance of policies adopted by the African Union (AU), the role of the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC), the difficulties encountered in Sudan, and Mbeki’s upcoming annual lecture, which will be held outside of South Africa for the first time.


  1. The Promise of Policies and the AU’s Peace and Security Council: The African Union, through its policies, empowers the Peace and Security Council (PSC) to address violent conflicts on the continent. Mbeki acknowledges the efficacy of the AU’s framework, recognizing the PSC as a suitable mechanism to deal with conflict situations. The policies, when properly implemented, can provide a robust foundation for resolving disputes and promoting peace in Africa. However, despite these promising policies, the challenge lies in translating them into action.
  2. The Implementation Gap and its Consequences: Mbeki emphasizes that the lack of effective implementation undermines the potential impact of the AU’s conflict resolution protocols. The gap between policy formulation and execution remains a significant obstacle to achieving tangible results. Without the necessary follow-through, conflicts persist, and opportunities for peaceful resolutions diminish. Addressing this implementation gap requires concerted efforts from African nations, regional organizations, and international partners to ensure that policies are translated into concrete actions on the ground.
  3. Case Study: The Struggle for Successful Intervention in Sudan: Mbeki highlights the ongoing conflict in Sudan as an example of the challenges faced in implementing conflict resolution protocols. The East African community, represented by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), promptly responded to the conflict. However, despite IGAD’s efforts, little progress was made due to the Sudanese military leaders’ reluctance to heed IGAD’s advice. This case underscores the complexities of intervention and the need for a receptive and cooperative environment to achieve successful conflict resolution.
  4. Mbeki’s Annual Lecture: A Platform for Reflection and Dialogue: In a departure from tradition, Mbeki’s annual lecture will be delivered outside of South Africa for the first time. This choice of venue symbolizes the importance of fostering dialogue and exchanging ideas beyond national borders. By engaging with the Guinean audience, Mbeki aims to generate discussions on the challenges and opportunities for conflict resolution in Africa. The lecture serves as a platform to examine past experiences, identify areas for improvement, and mobilize collective efforts to overcome the hurdles of implementation.


Thabo Mbeki’s insights shed light on the challenges of implementing conflict resolution protocols in Africa and the need for improved execution. While policies and instruments exist, the lack of effective implementation hampers the resolution of conflicts on the continent. To bridge this implementation gap, African nations, regional organizations like the AU, and international partners must collaborate to ensure the translation of policies into actionable strategies. By addressing these challenges, Africa can strive towards sustainable peace and stability. Mbeki’s annual lecture in Guinea further underscores the importance of cross-border dialogue and reflection to foster effective conflict resolution mechanisms on the African continent.


Furthermore, the observations made by Thabo Mbeki highlight the significance of political will and leadership in driving the implementation of conflict resolution protocols in Africa. It is not solely the responsibility of regional and international organizations to ensure effective implementation, but also the duty of African leaders to prioritize and actively pursue peaceful resolutions. By demonstrating a commitment to resolving conflicts and implementing the necessary policies, leaders can inspire trust, promote cooperation, and create an environment conducive to sustainable peace. Leadership that is guided by the best interests of the continent and its people is essential in overcoming the challenges and achieving successful conflict resolution outcomes in Africa.

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