NewsSouthern AfricaZimbabwe: An improbable second term push for Robert Mugabe as AU Chair


Posted on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 12:21

Zimbabwe: An improbable second term push for Robert Mugabe as AU Chair

By Nqobile Bhebhe

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Photo©ReutersA Zimbabwean legislator has claimed some African countries are pushing for an unlikely second term for President Robert Mugabe as the chairman of the African Union (AU).

In unsubstantiated claims, parliamentarian Kindness Paradza said there was a push for Mugabe to have a second term as the Zimbabwean leader had displayed "impeccable leadership qualities".

We have to take into account the institutional structures of the AU. It is not structured for success

"The majority of African ambassadors in Addis Ababa and AU commissioners had a consensus that if it was possible, President Mugabe would be given a second term as chairman or assume any other supreme role to fulfil the pan-African vision of the continental body," the legislator, who recently led a Zimbabwean delegation to Ethiopia, said.

Mugabe was credited for successfully spearheading a number of initiatives which brought back the AU union on the world map, Paradza said.

The AU chairmanship is held on a one year rotational basis, with Mugabe's term ending at the end of January. On Sunday, the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said Mugabe is leaving a "lasting impression".

However, his tenure has been dogged unrest on the continent, with xenophobic violence in South Africa, political unrest in Swaziland, Lesotho and the Boko Haram insurgency among other issues.

Burundi unrest

More unrest emerged on the continent after Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza won a contested third term as president, triggering violent clashes.

On Tuesday, Mugabe met a special envoy from Nkurunziza in Harare, where he was appraised about political developments in that country.

Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said Mugabe had not carried out his mandate as the AU chairperson effectively, although he was not sorely to blame is the Zimbabwean leader's role was only ceremonial.

"We have to take into account the institutional structures of the AU. It is not structured for success," the lecturer said. "It is not like the European Union, which has a powerful commission."

Mugabe, 92 next month, took over as chairman from Mauritania's President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz last year. This week, he is due to pass on the baton to Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno.

A former guerrilla leader who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, Mugabe is viewed with deep respect by many on the continent, despite accusations of human rights abuse and electoral fraud in his own country.

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