AU ‘mixed signals’ as Mugabe takes over

via AU ‘mixed signals’ as Mugabe takes over – New Zimbabwe 29/01/2015

AFRICAN leaders are expected on Friday to elect President Robert Mugabe 54-member African Union’s rotating chair, a choice critics say risks tarnishing the organisation’s reputation.

Mugabe, who aged 91 is Africa’s oldest leader, is widely expected to be anointed as successor to Mauritania’s president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz at the start of the two-day AU summit meeting in the Ethiopian capital.

But the veteran president has a different reputation outside the continent, and is subject to travel bans from both the United States and European Union, in place since 2002 in protest at political violence and intimidation.

Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, is accused of crushing opponents to ensure his Zanu-PF party won every election for more than three decades.

‘It’s not a very encouraging sign’

Last year Mugabe boycotted an EU-Africa Summit in Brussels after he was given a rare invitation – but his wife was still denied a visa.

But several African diplomats are also uneasy.

“It’s not a very encouraging sign,” sighed one African diplomat, who asked not to be identified. “The Mugabe style belongs to a past generation, the one that takes power hostage, and this is no longer the AU creed.”

AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who heads the executive branch that directs day-to-day work – launched the summit earlier this week highlighting “democracy, good governance and human rights” as core goals of the bloc.

But her deputy Erastus Mwencha, has defended the right to choose any leader.

“Who am I to say to the people, you have elected the wrong leader?” Mwencha said.

“The people have chosen: the important thing is that you must follow the constitution of your country.”

‘Unfortunate’ choice
Although the post of AU chair is largely symbolic, civil rights groups are worried as to the image it will give to the organisation.

“This will send mixed signals and an extremely awkward message on international levels on how the AU stands on principles of democracy and good governance,” said Jeggan Gey-Johnson, spokesperson of the pan-African civil society coalition, The AU We Want.

It is not the first time an autocratic leader would take the AU’s top post.

“There is a trend that has been going for several years of leaders chosen to represent the AU at the highest level who don’t espouse the core principles of the organisation,” Gey-Johnson added.

The previous chair, Mauritania’s Abdel Aziz, became the north African country’s president in 2009 after leading two coups in four years.
In the corridors of AU headquarters, diplomats say the choice of Mugabe is an “unfortunate accident” resulting from the tradition of rotating the post among Africa’s regions.

Previous controversial choices
The AU has faced previous controversial choices before.

In 2007, the AU was deeply divided over the candidacy of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, while civil war raged in the western region of Darfur.

Ghana’s John Kufor finally took the post, on the grounds that the country was celebrating 50 years of independence.

Some civil society groups also objected when Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi – who heavily bankrolled the AU – took the post in 2009, and in 2011 when Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Africa’s second longest serving leader, was named.

But Mugabe has also much support from many African leaders, who view with deep respect the former liberation war hero, the continent’s third-longest serving leader.

“The AU did not contest his election in 2013,” said Solomon Dersso of the Institute for Security Studies, an African think tank.

“Mugabe is a legitimate president, and if his people accepted his election, the AU has no reason to have a problem with his election.”


  • comment-avatar
    Doctor Do little 9 years ago

    I would not hold my breath where the AU is concerned. They of course use the majority rule concept where it comes to their elections for office bearers. That being the case they will always go the way of people like Robert Mugabe and silence people like Ian Khama who are in the minority. When it gets back to their own countries they just go back to their dictorial tendencies. That is why Mugabe can rightfully say to them YE WHO HAS NOT SINNED CAST THE FIRST STONE. The sad part is that the backing also comes from the likes of Zuma and co who are enjoying the fruits of democracy. They whisper in their little corners in fear that the 92 year old Dictator might hear them. A bunch of useless cowards who run the richest continent in the world with the worst services and the poorest people ion the world. They should be called the AUD the African Union of disgrace.

    • comment-avatar
      Ed Melik Esq. 9 years ago

      Doctor Dolittle’s comments are well within the realm of facts on the ground as they appear. However, there are issues way beyond the grasps of those who are not at the help of power and its prerequisites of responsibilities that goes with the power. If one has to compare apples with apples, so to speak, then let’s quickly and briefly see what the most advanced so called “civilzed” world of the white men is undergoing.
      The European Union boasts of its well-being and the rule of law, but the latest European Commission report on corruption shows something is rotten in the EU. Billions of euros are eaten up by corruption each year, and no parts of Europe are spared. Is there no way out of this? How does corruption find its way into so many nations? Can it be fought? To tease this out, one has to listen to Mr. Drago Kos, a professional corruption fighter and OECD head who points out that “the corruption is something that must be discussed publicly and must be brought out in the open by the media in order to make the people aware of their state of affairs as far as their country’s leadership is concerned. It is not only the developing countries that are always pointed fingers at but most prevalent corruption is well established in countries like the USA,Canada, EU and other”. In USA crooked politicians
      starting from the US Congress to the White House that has already passed a bill such as the NDAA? The NDAA stands for the National Defense Authorization Act and gives the government complete control and authority over the US population and anyone else they see as a threat. US government the right to detain, with use of torture and with no obligation to tell your family that they actually have you. Yes, this means they can take you against your will and it will be as if you disappeared. Second to that, I find it funny that they are in the process of taking our god given and constitutional right to own and carry a firearm. The second amendment was put in the constitution for the sole purpose of protecting ourselves, our family, and our fellow countrymen from a tyrannical government like what USA gas become. Some people claim that the amendment was implemented for the purpose of hunting so that we could provide for our families, however, this is not the sole use of the amendment – think about it, revolutionary war, the constitution, people rising up and standing for what they actually believed and not what they were being spoon fed.. that’s 1776. If you combined that with the fact that the government has now started to buy up as much ammunition as possible, over 1.6 billion rounds; it seems that the picture really starts to come together. All you need to add is the fact that they just spent 2 million dollars on paper targets that resemble pregnant woman, children, and old people. Recently our beloved government has started to buy and fly drones over every major US city. It seems to me that the government is trying to disarm us while they arm themselves.. am I the only one that sees this? I think not.
      So for Zimbabweans, you are still blessed with certain amount of democracy as we in the USA and EU have already lost it. So given the mess the rest of the world is in, Zimbabweans have to find ways and means to self-sustain their lives and to find solutions to kick start their economy because anyone replacing President Mugabe is going to first, hoard up as much cash and assets as possible and then sweet coat the dissasterous economical challenges of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean at least know the pluses and minuses of President Mugabe but just imagine a new leader who may promise Zimbabwe a new world of hopes but how in the world he or she is going to do unless he or she sells Zimbabwe’s national interests to the goons sitting the shadows just to take over and take Zimbabwe to a worse place than she already is. Think before your let your emotions disillusion your sense of rationale. Work together to solve African problems because the West that a lot of you hope to solve the problems for you has a proven track record to exploit the hell out of Africa and leave you to rot. Be careful of what you ask for you may get your wishes come true only to find out that you’ve chosen to ask the devil be your guide!

  • comment-avatar

    The AU is a mixed up lot so it stands to reason that they will send mixed signals. It is their MO.

  • comment-avatar

    “The people have chosen: the important thing is that you must follow the constitution of your country.”

    Which is exactly what Mugabe and Zanu-PF didn’t do! What a joke, hopefully now he will have achieved what he has been holding our for and will move on from this world…

  • comment-avatar
    Charlie Hebdo 9 years ago

    Africa is hm 2 uncouth,greedy, myopic& selfish ‘leaders’ frm Cairo 2 Capetwn, in egypt thy is ths Sisi guy, who orchestrated the overthrow of a democraticaly elected przdnt, go 2 sudan thy is a monster kold El Bashir, DRC hz ths pw hungry boy wh wants 2 change th constitution 2 satisfy hz lust 4 power, Angola hz got ths Dos santos guy, Who hz a pHd in Plunder& Looting,finaly SA, is headed by ths double headed mshina wami guy, who is corrupt 2 th list is endless. AU is grouping of Mafia guys.

  • comment-avatar
    ,wetse 9 years ago

    Is this a joke. Pres Mugabe the most undemocratic leader, with human rights violations not to mention the economy. There is no Zimbabwe dollar.zimbabwe now uses United States dollars.. He is the best example of bad African leadership.. Lucky Africa is young and he doesn’t represent them. He should have retired a long time ago.zimbabwe would be in a better place.