Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s successor will be elected at the 28th African Union (AU) Summit, taking place in Addis Ababa next week. The Institute for Security Studies’ PSC Report asked the candidates how they plan to steer the continental organisation.
What is your vision of the position of chairperson of the AUC?
Abdoulaye Bathily (Senegal):
In my view, the holder of the office must:
- Have a solid grasp of the history of the peoples of Africa, including the full range of factors that have shaped and continue to influence Africa
- Be a visionary who is able to embody both the aspirations of the peoples of Africa and the will of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government
- Faithfully bear the hopes and concerns of current and future generations of Africans and work with other organs of the AU to ensure that the programmes and actions will contribute to cement the unity, solidarity and independence of Africans
- Provide an effective interface with Executive Council and the Permanent Representatives Committee in order to ensure the effective functioning of the Commission and coordinating of the work of the Commission with the rest of the AU Organs and the regional economic communities (RECs)
- Mobilise member states and all other stakeholders behind a unified strategy for the transformation of the continent and advocate for the AU’s agenda on peace and democracy
- Ensure a strategically targeted visibility for Africa in contemporary international affairs and give a voice to African interests and concerns in global economic and political
Agapito Mba Mokuy (Equatorial Guinea):
Africa needs a chairperson who has experience in dealing with and understanding complex international organisations of the United Nations (UN) system, a chairperson who can easily communicate with the heads of state and government, a chairperson who understands that, as a chairperson, he/she is not a head of state but a secretary at the service of the member states. This is therefore a key to success, if elected by the heads of state and government as the chairperson of the commission.
He should be a technocrat and innovator with the political will of inclusive and concerted efforts, with well-established connections with African peoples.
In term of responsibilities, he should be able to work for a more united, dignified and prosperous Africa in order to convert its political, socio-cultural and economic strengths that will place it above other continents. Finally, the chairperson should be able to defend the values of the founding fathers of pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.
Amina Mohamed (Kenya):
At a time when the world is witnessing historic and rapid economic and political changes, my vision of the position of the AU Commission (AUC) chairperson is to provide inspirational and transformative leadership that will keep the AUC solidly focused on implementing at its very best, Africa’s blueprint for development, Agenda 2063, and attending to the interest of African peoples.
The primary goals of Agenda 2063 are to promote peace, security and stability on the continent and to promote greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the peoples of Africa, as stated in the Constitutive Act of the AU. Political tranquillity, security, good governance, unity and justice in turn will constitute the foundation of widely shared prosperity and dignity of all Africa’s peoples.
The path towards the realisation of these objectives is clearly laid out in the seven aspirations of Agenda 2063, which stress widely shared and sustainable growth, continental integration, good governance, cultural identity, attention to the special needs of African youth and women and the emergence of Africa as a respected player in global issues.
Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi (Botswana):
My vision for the AUC is an organisation that seeks to deliver real results, pursues common objectives and envisions an integrated, people-centred and prosperous Africa, at peace with itself.
What would be your priorities as chairperson of the AU Commission?
Conscious of the role and place of the AUC as a central engine room of the AU, it will be my priority as chairperson to:
- Ensure that the Commission itself is restructured and equipped to function with efficiency and coherence in the execution of its programmes
- Strengthen synergies between the Commission, the Executive Council and the Permanent Representatives Committee
- Reignite the pan-African ideal in the popular imagination of all Africans and peoples of African descent
- Reinforce the principle and practice of gender parity at all levels in the Commission
- Place the question of the sustainable funding of the AU by the governments and peoples of Africa on the front burner
- Revamp the preventive diplomacy capacity and role of the AU and its peacekeeping functions
- Deepen the interface between the AU Commission, RECs and the New Partnership for Africa's Development
- Drive the implementation of the first 10-year plan of Agenda 2063
- Ensure that Africa’s voice and position are heard on issues of climate change, in the follow-up to the COP22 in Marrakech.
It is true that during the past decades the AU has registered a number of considerable advances. Nevertheless, the road is still long. As such, it will be important for me to collaborate with the various departments and organs in the implementation of the decisions of the heads of state.
We will need to concentrate on the following:
- Harmonising the commercial, economic and social policies and have a common bloc in negotiations between the union and the rest of the world.
- Mobilising resources within the continent; defending the sovereignty and the respect of principles adopted by the heads of state, and the creation of the Pan African Tribunal
- Promoting a culture of peace by assuring the security and stability of the continent
- Putting in place financial and political tools to render the continent’s small- and medium-sized enterprises more performing
- Taking into consideration climatic threats and fighting for the protection of natural resources and preservation of biodiversity, defending the African position during international negotiations on the environment and developing policies adapted to Africa
- Modern education – developing competences with a special focus on technology, innovation and research
- Putting in place mechanisms to control the quality and production and increased capacity of production agro-industries and developing local and inter-state markets
- Defending the rights of all Africans, with particular attention to defending the rights of women and minority groups
- Giving priority to the role of the African diaspora for the development of the continent
- Leadership of African youths and participation in decision-making politically, economically and socially
- Respect of human rights, democracy and good governance
- Ameliorate the perception index of the AU: improving on the image of Africa and respect for African leaders, putting in place synergic actions that link Africans
- Finally, I will do my best for the AU decisions to be felt by the grassroots populations. This means there will be a need for the heads of state to consider a decision where AU offices will be set up at country levels to assist the Secretariat in Addis Ababa.
Peace and security are a precondition for the dignity of African peoples, as are widely shared prosperity, good governance and justice and democracy, as enshrined in the AU statutes. For this reason, one of the top priorities of my tenure would be the winding down of the remaining conflicts in Africa, followed, where necessary, by peacekeeping operations and comprehensive efforts to strengthen Africa’s fragile states.
In this, the AU’s Peace and Security Council must work closely with the African heads of state, the UN and the international community on a case-by-case basis.
Secondly, after a decade and a half of posting some of the highest records of economic growth in the developing world, African economies are slowing down. Given the promise of poverty reduction set out in Agenda 2063 and under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the AUC, with strategic partners, now needs to urgently review the near-term African development strategy to see what could be done to shore up rapid growth with poverty reduction and widely shared prosperity. This is especially urgent because global commitments to multilateral institutions appear to be weakening.
Thirdly, the AUC and the various specialised AU agencies have rendered some remarkable services to Africa, and it deserves our compliments for that. But at the same time, a decade and a half of experience is enough to enable us to review the AUC’s architecture, its relationship to the RECs, and the prospects for realising Agenda 2063. Appropriate reforms to accelerate action can then be undertaken.
AU member states can undertake none of these, and other priorities not listed here, without sufficient financial contributions. Budgetary self-sufficiency is already a strategic priority, which the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU is seized with.
As chairperson of the AUC, my immediate responsibility will be to ensure that the structures to implement the decisions on financing and ensuring proper accountability for resources are in place and working.
My four-year priority as chairperson of the AUC will first and foremost be to ensure a focused and effective implementation of Agenda 2063 and its 10-year implementation plan; and to work toward achieving the goals of poverty eradication, fighting economic marginalisation, inequality, women empowerment and protracted conflict.
However, to achieve the bold objectives of Agenda 2063, a number of inhibitors would need to be swiftly tackled. Thus, in my first 100 days as chairperson of the AU, my focus will be getting the organisation battle ready.
We need better research and data to make informed decisions. We need organisational systems that support delivery. We also need to ensure accurate monitoring and evaluation; but above all we need to be ready to deliver. To do this we need to spend energy looking inward, making the AUC work better at serving the needs of Africa.
At the time of publication, the PSC Report had not received a response from Moussa Faki Mahamat, the candidate from Chad.
To read the full interviews, click here.