Last month’s ECOWAS Heads of State Summit was by all accounts a successful summit with Mali being a particular subject of interest. The other country of focus was the micro-state of the Republic of Cape Verde.
It is hard to explain the amount of disdain and antagonism there exists towards this nation of less than half a million people whose arrogance and general air of superiority is causing many leaders and people of the other 14 Member States to question why Cape Verde is even a member of ECOWAS.
It was represented at the meeting in Accra by aging outgoing President Jorge Fonseca. On the one hand he mouthed all the right words about ECOWAS integration but on the other he could not hide the fact that he heads a state which has done more than any other to destroy the very regional integration he purports to support.
Cape Verde see itself as “African” only because of an accident of geography. Speak to any senior Cape Verdean politician and they will tell you that if only the gods who manage the earth’s tectonic plates had pushed them a little further north, then the micro-state archipelago would have been part of Europe, a continent of which its political and social elite is desperately aspires to be a part.
The self-entitlement that dripped from Jorge Fonseca during his recent comments in Accra was not much appreciated. The stench of superiority caused many to gag at his words. In short, Jorge Fonseca agreed ECOWAS (to which Cape Verde contributes all of €300,000 per annum) needs to cut costs, but not when it comes to the needs of the superior-Portuguese speaking Cape Verdeans. The secretariat needs to be cut, but not when it comes to Portuguese-speaking support staff. The Portuguesespeakers need to have their representatives on ECOWAS Commission posts, but others can scale back.
It is rumoured that Cape Verde’s contribution to the ECOWAS budget is less than the total take-home package of its representative on the ECOWAS Court of Justice. The very same court whose jurisdiction Cape Verde questions and with whose decisions Cape Verde refuses to comply. But when it comes to getting some of the ECOWAS gravy, rest assured the Cape Verde snout will be fighting to get in the trough first.
Earlier this year, Cape Verde refused entry to a group of Nigerian tourists whilst a number of European tourists on the same flight were welcomed with open arms, garlands and much bowing and scraping.
Now this mighty “not African” micro-state wants to assume the Presidency of ECOWAS. So that it can teach us Africans how to engage with first world countries? How to conduct our affairs? Manage our economies?
It is little wonder that many are questioning the need to have this micro-state as a member of ECOWAS. Who needs to hear the constant buzzing of this inconsequential mosquito? Why not just swat it away once and for all?