Kazibwe eliminated: AU elections suspended

Uganda's Ms Speciosa Kazibwe.

The three candidates for chairperson of the African Union Commission, including former Vice President Specioza Kazibwe, have been eliminated.

State Minister for International Affairs, Oryem-Okello, says the elections have been suspended altogether. “All candidates eliminated, elections suspended,” he told Daily Monitor in a short text message (SMS).

L-R: Ms Venson-Moitoi of Botswana, Ms Speciosa Wandira of Uganda and Ms Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea.

The developments reportedly followed Dr Kazibwe’s unceremonious exit in early round of voting in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
She reportedly polled 11 votes against 16 scored by Botswana’s Pelomi Venson-Moitoi and Equatorial Guinea candidate Agapito Mba Mokuy, who garnered 12 votes.

The West African economic bloc, ECOWAS, had going into the elections to replace Dlamini Zuma raised objections about the quality of candidates lined up as her possible successors,


Is Dr Kazibwe the best Uganda can sponsor for AU’s top job?

In a week’s time, the 27th African Union Summit will convene in Kigali under the chairmanship of Rwandan president, Paul Kagame. The summit will, inter alia, elect a new chairperson of the AU Commission from three, may be more candidates, one of whom is former Ugandan vice president, Dr Speciosa Kazibwe.

Sunday Monitor of June 26 published an interview Ivan Okuda conducted with Dr Kazibwe in which she was quoted telling the journalist that Uganda government asked her to contest for the top AU job because “as an individual I think I am the best. I am qualified, tested, experienced and I am a pan-African,” by which I think Kazibwe meant to say she was a pan-Africanist!

I was dismayed by her arrogant and irrelevant answers, but the contents of the interview clearly reveal the mind of a person who does not seem to know what AU is about beyond what she possibly read in a background brief prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A friend I occasionally split beer with at a local joint quipped candidly that Kazibwe’s candidature is like an April fool’s day joke! And it must be the most expensive joke in the history of Uganda, costing poor Ugandan taxpayers a whopping Shs3.5 billion!

The interview confirms my considered opinion that Uganda should urgently search for a serious and credible candidate which the AU and wananchi of Africa deserve.
Asked by Okuda whether she is arrogant, Kazibwe answered with relish that, “Yes I am arrogant. To be self-assured is interpreted as being arrogant. It is actually good to be arrogant.” Really! Since when!

The idea of fronting Kazibwe as a candidate for AU’s top job is mindboggling, laughable and unacceptable to Ugandans who love their country. A humorous and satirical cartoon on the editorial page of Sunday Vision of July 3 aptly illustrates and ridicules Kazibwe’s AU candidature.

Bravo Sunday Vision!
Dr Kazibwe is, in fact, her own worst enemy! Right from 1990s when she was figuratively caught with her pants down in the “valley dams” scandal, what often comes out of her mouth incriminates and gives her away or confirms wananchi’s worst fears and reservations about her personality, motives and deeds.

Let us take a couple of examples from the Sunday Monitor interview titled, “My track record is clear; I am the best for AU job”. Her track record, for a start, leaves a lot to be desired. When challenged by Okuda why government squandered Shs1.5 billion to allegedly pay for her PhD course at Harvard University, she arrogantly answered “what is wrong with that because Ugandans don’t read.” The inference is that Ugandans are fools!

Asked for clarification, she retorted, “What matters to me is that the country spent money and I came back with what that money was meant to do and it has prepared me for the AU job; even if it had been Shs10 billion, it would have been worth it! So I am not bothered, so they can talk!” My goodness! She sounds unprepared and unfit for any job at the AU, but how callous, ungrateful and shameless can a person be?

On the role of the AU chairperson
Dr Kazibwe exposed her ignorance when asked about her anticipated role as AU chairperson. This was her answer: “My calling is within the ideology of pan-Africanism to situate Africans and Africa in their right place globally. That means you have to believe you are African and whatever you do must be in Africa’s interest.

Other people’s interests are secondary. I represent the dignity of Africa and other people should know Africans are capable, they have the brain, capacity and can move their continent without any interference from anyone else!”
Can any smart person out there tell me if Kazibwe’s response is useful and whether it sheds light on the critical role of the AU chairperson? My crystal ball tells me Kazibwe does not know the role and work of the AU chairperson.
The AU chairperson is moreover expected to have a working knowledge of French which, I am advised, Dr Kazibwe does not have. French-speaking member states of AU tend to be fussy about this matter, unlike their English-speaking counterparts.

Legitimate concerns and misgivings have already been expressed in diplomatic circles by several countries about the calibre and credibility of the three declared candidates from Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and Uganda, none of whom will, I predict, get the necessary two-thirds majority to be elected.

The summit is under no obligation to take a decision on the matter at Kigali. The election of a new AU chairperson should in these regrettable circumstances be postponed to the January 2017 AU summit, due to take place in Addis Ababa.

This will give adequate time for consultations among African heads of state and allow time for new and credible candidates to emerge. In the meantime, the deputy chairperson of the AU Commission can hold the fort in the capacity of AU chairperson, ad interim.

African leaders must for the sake of the continent choose a competent, credible and suitable candidate who will not bring shame on Africa and who will provide effective leadership for the AU at this critical period. Africa Oyee!

Mr Acemah is a political scientist, consultant and a retired career diplomat. [email protected]

Details to follow