The 27th African Summit held under the theme, “2016, the year of human rights;”with a particular focus on the rights of women” got underway on Wednesday in Kigali, Rwanda.
Current AU Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlhamini Zuma has indicated her intention not to seek second term and three candidates from Botswana, Equaitorial Guinea and Uganda are already in the running to succeed her.
The three are all foreign ministers in their respective countries.
Some of the 35 editors brought together by The African Editors forum (TAEF)in collaboration with the AU to attend the African editors forum conference, which also began Wednesday on the sidelines of the summit, voiced their opinion on their preferred candidates and the AU in general.
Zambia Broadcasting Corporation News Editor, Chansa Mayani said she supported the Botswana candidate, Minister of foreign affairs Pelonomi Venson Moitoi because the position needed to be filled by a woman in order for her to continue Zuma’s legacy of tremendous transformation of administration at the AU.
“Zuma cultivated a culture of efficiency and accountability within the African Union commission and we need another woman, who happens to be the Southern Africa candidate to continue that legacy. Besides voting for her would be in line with this year’s theme, which shines the spotlight on women and their rights ,” said Chansa.
The Managing Editor of Ghana Business News, Dogbevi however was of the view that it did not matter too much who becomes the new chairperson of the AU Commission because the organization has failed dismally to entrench itself to Africans choosing instead to pursue lofty ideals that are of little benefit to ordinary citizens in the streets of member states.
“Right now they are excitedly talking about the introduction of the AU passport for presidents and expect journalists to popularize it without asking pertinent questions. But the AU must know that editors and journalists alligence is to the truth and the public interest, so we can not avoid interrogating how this passport is supposed to help the ordinary citizen when restrictions on travel in Africa still remain in place? We have to ask these questions because citizens of AU member states have come to know these meetings as places where delegates go to eat and enjoy themselves and come back home to continue with business as usual” Dogbevi said.
Another Editor, Ousman Sillah from Forayaa Newspaper in The Gambia strongly believes that the person who should ascend to the position should be someone with the clout to influence change.
“I’m of the opinion that a former head of state like former president of Nigeria, Olasagun Obasanjo, would have been ideal, but since all of the current candidates are foreign ministers I would back a person coming from a country which strongly respects human rights and the rule of law. And taking into consideration the gender issue as well, I would give my support to the Botswana candidate because her country is on course. Botswana respects the rule of law and human rights. I don’t want to talk about Uganda and Equitorial Guniea records here,” he remarked
Meanwhile inside sources said lobbying had started in earnest behind closed doors.
“We are happy with the way the campaign has been going so far. Although the former president and campaign manager, Festus Mogae in not here yet because of other pressing commitments for the South Sudan Peace deal, we feel he has covered enough ground already and we are confident of our chances,” an inside source said.
The elections have been put on the agenda for the weekend, although there are fears that some delegates might lobby for a postponement to January because they feel none of the candidates are of the right caliber for the job.