With just two months left of the African Union Commission chairperson’s extended reign, candidates are lining up to take over the baton.
Incumbent AU Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was supposed to hand over the baton in July, but those who had lined up in Rwanda to take over never made the grade.
The most recent draft agenda of the 27th Assembly of the African Union (AU) took take place in Kigali, Rwanda, on July 17 and 18, 2016. It included the election of a replacement for Dlamini-Zuma, whose name has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate for South Africa in the 2019 polls.
At the summit in Rwanda, there were three candidates vying for the position – former Ugandan vice-president Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, Botswana Foreign Affairs Minister Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, and Equatorial Guinea foreign minister Agapito Mba Mokuy.
However, none of them managed to get the required two-thirds majority vote, and as a result, Dlamini-Zuma, who has declined a second term, was asked to continue in the role until January 2017, when fresh election will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
On Thursday, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma said they were throwing their support behind Moitoi, the Botswana candidate.
“The two heads of state reaffirmed their support for the SADC candidate for the post of AU Commission chairperson, Dr Pelonomi Moitoi, the minister of foreign affairs for Botswana,” said Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister after the inaugural session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission.
Earlier reports from Kenya had claimed Kenyan Foreign Affairs cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed had received support from South Africa, Rwanda and other East African countries for her candidacy as AU Commission chair.
New hopefuls have also put up their hands to take over the coveted position of chair of the commission, which is the secretariat of the African Union entrusted with executive functions.
Sixty-nine-year old Abdoulaye Bathily – a Senegalese politician and diplomat – has also joined the race. Since 2014, Bathily has been special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for Central Africa.
Bathily has told close friends that he is ready to take up the challenge of tackling the continent’s perennial ills that include food insecurity, poverty and instability.