As the curtains closed yesterday on the 28th AU Summit, new leaders -both at the Assembly and Commission, were chosen. With the Kingdom of Morocco being readmitted back into the Union. Even though Morocco’s fate and the election of the Assembly’s chair -H.E Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea were already preset -it is the election of the new AU Commission that was of utmost interest. And with all the campaigning and lobbying by interested parties, Africa settled on Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad as AUC chairperson, being deputized by Ghana’s Ambassador Thomas Kwesi Quartey.
With the AU Commission as the single most important organ of the African Union, it attracts election processes that are both intense and bruising -and to some extent, threatening to the very unity that the Union seeks to achieve. It also attracts betrayals from the so called allies.
In 2012, when Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma was seeking to be elected -challenging the incumbent Jean Ping, very many factors were at play. With two unwritten and unspoken rules being broken. First, that a big five member Country should not field a candidate for the AUC position. (South Africa breaking this rule). And secondly, that if the chairperson comes from an Anglophone country, the deputy should come from a Francophone one and vice versa -Both South Africa and Kenya having been Anglophone Nations.
It is very important for any Kenyan to remember that in the 2012 contest, even though Dlamini Zuma was seen as a game changer, by being a woman, a top diplomat with great political acumen, And who seemed passionate about bringing reforms to the commission -Kenya still did not vote for her. Reason, Kenya was pursuing her own interest, focusing on the Anglophone- Francophone unwritten rules. Since Kenya was having a candidate for the deputy chair, they saw it prudent to support Gabon’s candidature to fulfill this rule while at the same time trading her support for Francophone’s support. Even though Dlamini Zuma still worn, Kenya remained lucky to have secured many votes from across the divide. This example alone should demonstrate that individual nations whether neighboours or not will always seek to pursue individual interests.
Fast forward to 2017 when Kenya fielded their own Ambassador Amina Mohamed for the position of AUC chairperson – In an election where Francophone Africa had their guns blazing in an attempt of capturing not only chairperson’s position, but also strategic political and technical offices of the commission. And with SADC Nations feeling that Africa needed to give her a second term to continue with Dlamini Zuma’s legacy, this race would have automatically ended up with bruises.
Insiders, albeit in whispers,would point out that Amina’s candidacy this 2017 was both ambitious and a hard sale -even though not ruling out chances of a win. And yes, she was so close to winning. But before the said elections, some reasons given about what could ultimately prevent her from winning were among others; 1) that even though she has a rich diplomatic and bureaucratic background, she lacked the needed Political acumen in African matters. And operatives would try to dissect where she would turn to for guidance in African Political matters. Will it be the Government of Kenya? This scenario is not new, in 2012, even when Dlamini Zuma displayed the needed Political Acumen, she was still put to task to shed light whether or not South Africa will try to influence the Commision’s policies. It even made President Zuma to come out in public and declare that South Africa will not in any way attempt to influence the Commission and will leave Dlamini Zuma serve the African Continent as a technocrat. And because Africa’s affairs at the moment need more Political approach in solving, Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat ended up appealing on that front. With some quotas even branding him the black horse.
2) Pundits would argue that the timing was never strategic. After having a candidate in the position of deputy chairperson for the last eight (8) years, ascending to chairperson wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Adding to this, other members especially from the Southern block would view this attempt as an act of selfishness. First, Kenya never supported their own in 2012 yet they supported Kenya’s deputy. And again at a time when Southern block would bank on Anglophone Countries to support a second term bid, Kenya is actively playing a spoiler role. When you look at the 7th round results, most abstentions came from the SADC region -not in solidarity with Kenya’s Amina, but as a protest for the entire Africa not granting them a second term. This abstention purpose was meant to create a deadlock again were it not for some Eastern African Countries deciding to grant Chad the two thirds required. And that leads to another question, Did Kenya fail to have a firm grip with her diplomacy in the region? Is her diplomacy weakening?
But that’s a question for another day. The biggest challenge for Kenya right now, is that this vote has ended up sparking antagonism on who was a patriot during this moment and who was not.
First, for the purposes of clarity, patriotism is not a duty to one’s government, but a duty to one’s Country. And therefore, support for Amina’s candidature, or lack of by a Kenyan, cannot be a measure of patriotism- simply because Amina was a government’s decision. Just the same way when a majority in parliament approve a Government’s decision and a minority disapprove -or vice versa, it cannot mean that one group was never patriotic. Each had their own legitimate reasons. If Kenya had substituted Amina Mohamed with person, let’s say X, who is more qualified than her, does it mean that this new person X would have attracted 100% support from all Kenyans? Definitely NOT. Does it mean that this new person -under the same circumstances, would have provided a better solution for Ugandans, Burundians, Tanzanians and Djibouti not to jump ship? That is the question real patriots should be bothering themselves with. Why would border neighbours and regional ones abandon Kenya at the hour of need? Are Kenyans becoming too selfish a people? Have Kenyans become too untrustworthy? Or are they now too corrupt that even a corrupt Africa cannot trust?
Now, instead of wasting any more time, let’s get back to business and provide solutions to our brothers and sisters detained in foreign lands. Let’s get back to business and dissect our regional diplomacy status. Let’s engage and contribute in Continental affairs selflessly -peace and security topping the agenda. Let’s demonstrate that indeed we believe in the spirit of Pan-Africanism by destroying these animals by the name of negative ethnicity, exclusion and discrimination -and let’s behead their father by the name of corruption!
We live to fight another day……….but only if we learn from our mistakes will we triumph.