By Pinky Khoabane
The African Union Commission (AUC) will choose the new chairperson to replace Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the 28th AU Summit at the end of January.
For the first time, the five candidates vying for the job faced-off in a live television debate called MjadalaAfrika on December 9 last year.
In much the same way the United Nations used a broader consultative process in choosing its secretary general – by getting candidates to answer questions from the public through public hearings and social media – the AUC gave the African citizenry an opportunity to see and hear the plans of their prospective chairperson.
The five candidates are: Botswana’s foreign minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Chad’s foreign minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, Equatorial Guinea’s foreign minister Agapito Mba Mokuy, Kenya’s foreign minister Amina Mohamed and Senegal’s Bathily Abdoulaye who is the special envoy for Central Africa.
Amina MohamedAgapito Mba Mokuy
Pelonomi Venson Moitoi Moussa Faki Mahamat
The person will lead the AUC for the next four years or even eight. They will be responsible for ensuring Africa’s Agenda 2063 is realised.
There’s considerable authority vested in the position of chairperson and the stature of the person shapes and contributes to the agenda of the decision-making body.
The chair is charged with the implementation of the policies taken by the AU and also has the power to monitor potential conflicts and to resolve current ones. They also have to promote peace and the reconstruction of conflict
areas. The role of the chairperson includes shaping trade, economic, political and security relations on the continent and its international partners. The person must fast track the transformation of the continent in all these spheres.
Five years ago, the AU set out the criteria for the the suitable candidate: education; experience; leadership; achievement; and vision and strategy. But this person must have much more than this criteria. The job requires an independent mind, political credibility and the will to reverse the paradox of an Africa that is rich in resources and yet its people, despite the riches, are among the poorest in the world.
Africa is rich in minerals and resources that have been commercially exploited by the west for centuries. Africa ranks first or second in the worlds global reserves. Three quarters of the world’s platinum supply comes from the continent. Africa has thirty-three countries with oil and gas. And despite all these riches in resources, African countries are in the majority of the least developed economies in the world.
Among the chairperson’s role is to ensure the AU is adequately financed. This will require that the continent shifts from dependency on foreign aid to a mindset that recognises the richness in Africa’s resources which must be used for its own industrialisation and economic growth. The chairperson will have to be bold enough to tackle corrupt leaders whose tendencies have hampered Africa’s ability to negotiate contracts that put Africa first and develop sustainable economies.