Thursday 25 February 2021
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newtimes - 7 days ago

A new day for the African Union

And instead of highlighting such a strong vote of confidence in his performance, Mussa Faki Mahamat chose to emphasize the Unity of the continent behind him. Noteworthy is the increasing presence of women at the helm of the continental body. After Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the trailblazer and first female chairperson of the commission, six years ago, and currently, a 50 percent female quota is now mandatory. Commissioners must be gender-balanced to include one man and one woman from each region, and indeed given that the Chairperson was running unopposed, only female candidatures were received for the post of Vice-President.   Three strong female candidates from East Africa competed, Advocate Hasna Barkat Daoud from Djibouti, Dr. Pamela Mbabazi from Uganda and Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa from Rwanda. I have known Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa for many years and I also had an opportunity to work with her Ugandan protagonist Dr. Pamela Mbabazi. All I can say is that Africa had been missing out on its brilliant daughters. That changes now! Obviously, when the Rwandan emerged victorious, her competitors took it gracefully and offered their congratulations and s another first. ‘We are witnessing the end of an era’, a friend remarked, the Peace and Security Commissioner is not Algerian? I thought they occupied the position for life.’ Far from a jab on Algerians, the commentator was highlighting the fluidity of the new process with no preserves nor favours. Deeply humbled by the overwhelming and historic vote of confidence by AU Member States by voting 51 out 55 to extend my mandate at the helm of the AUC Commission for another 4 years. My congratulations to @mnsanzabaganwa who was elected as deputy Chairperson. Together we WILL. — Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) February 6, 2021 For the purpose of the young ones: the African Union Commission (secretariat of the AU) started in Sirte, Libya, the birth village of late Muammar Gadhafi in 2002.  Ivorian Amara Essy served one year as interim and in 2003, upon the creation of the AU, late Malian President Alpha Omar Konare was elected and serve one term, then Jean Ping followed and served one term followed by Dlamini Zuma who also served one term. The reforms have given a professional approach to the process: Competence scores are assessed by an African consulting firm alongside a regional experts’ committee which filters candidates before their profiles are accepted and subsequently submitted to the Assembly. Although, as a Rwandan I have a bias on the outcome, to quote my politics professor, ‘the best elections are the ones that I win’, I must commend a professional process. Once a bottleneck hindering reforms, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Ambassadors to the AU) has been won over to the reforms. As a result, most reforms have been implemented, including the most contentious ones the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), the 0.2% levy on eligible imports to finance the African Union, and the electoral process. Alas! it wasn’t a bed of roses at the AU last month. President Kagame used firm words to express exasperation at the stalling the last lap of his reforms, namely, the Judicial Organs, Pan-African Parliament and the commission’s structures, defining Regional Economic Communities (RECs). I suspect the president was hinting that he would like to get the process over with. With that in mind I believe that by the next AU Summit, we will be hearing of the phasing out of the reform committee as all will have been implemented. I couldn’t end without congratulating, again, our sister Dr. Nsanzabaganwa Monique. Dear Dr. Monique, please bring them the best of Rwanda. Below the elected AU Commissioners:

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