Six candidates vie for AUC chair

By Mpho Tebele

GABORONE-SIX candidates have entered the race to chair the African Union Commission, according to one of the candidates.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s candidate for the post, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, in a statement this week, congratulated five other candidates that have also put forward their names for the post.

The election to replace South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is stepping down, is to be held during the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government scheduled for 30-31 January 2017 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Without disclosing the names of her competitors, Venson-Moitoi, who is also Botswana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, said six names will be on the ballot.

“What an encouraging time to be an African when so many great candidates can be put forward, all ready to sacrifice their time and energy towards building a more prosperous, united and proud continent,” she said in a statement.

“The diverse pool of candidates is a reflection of the fact that there is no shortage of ideas or commitment on the need to take our great Union forward.”

According to Venson-Moitoi, “The challenge for all of us remains the need to convert our ideals and aspirations into practical actions that are of tangible benefit to all Africans.”

She added: “I have had the good fortune to come from, and have worked at the highest levels within a country, Botswana, which has just celebrated 50 years of peaceful, people-centred development. This circumstance has allowed for the provision of meaningful services based on the planned delivery of programmes.

“It is this administrative experience, of balancing diverse needs and popular expectations, which I wish to now bring to the position of the next AU chair. It is my conviction that for our Africa renaissance to bear fruit, we need to stand up, roll up our sleeves and get to work.

“In this respect, my own track record of getting organisations, particularly in the public sector, to perform is a matter of public record.”

Venson-Moitoi said it is this background and understanding of what is possible when strong administration and committed governance come together in an organisational context that she now offers.

“I want to make our mother continent a better place for all starting January 2017.

This is our time; Africa deserves the very best,” she pledged.

The election of members of the AU Commission in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2016 was suspended as none of the three contenders for the position of the chairperson of the Commission obtained the required two-thirds majority, after seven rounds of voting.

Re-opening the process allows for both the former candidates, as well as new candidates to run for any of the 10 positions.

Thus far, some of the countries that have fronted their candidates are Kenya and Chad. Reports from Kenyan media indicate that a number of countries have supported the candidature of Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohammed, to the position of AUC chairperson.

Member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) threw their weight behind Ambassador Amina in Antananarivo, Madagascar, recently.

Chad has also nominated Foreign Affairs Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, to contest for AUC chair.