AU Commission Chairpersonship: Rotational or by Merit?

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Chad’s foreign minister Moussa Faki Mahamat has been appointed to succeed Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as the next African Union Commission Chairperson.

Mr. Mahamat who contested against four other opponents from Kenya, Botswana, Senegal and Equatorial Guinea, received 28 votes in the final round of voting, to beat his closest rival Amina Mohamad, Kenyan Foreign Minister, who received 24 votes. The other contestants were Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, a veteran politician from Botswana, Abdoulaye Bathily, Senegalese diplomat and academic and Mba Mokuy, who served as a senior adviser to Equatorial Guinea’s President.

The selection of the new AU commission chairperson did not take place without controversies. Africa is a continent, where individual lives are systematically enmeshed in different consciousnesses ““ amongst them, ethnicity, religion, and linguistics ““ created by the colonial legacies. Just like in the choice of many leaders in Africa, some Africans insist that the appointment of the AU commission chairperson must reflect some regional, linguistic and even religious balance. Others argue that the selection must be based on pure merit, an ingredient, they retaliated, much needed to achieve progress on the continent.

One might recall that the outgoing AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is English ““ speaking (Anglophone), as such, many Francophonic AU members, would rather prefer the new commission chairperson to be French-speaking. Interestingly, if one would follow this argument further, the current chairperson of the AU is Guinea’s President Alpha Condé , is not only Francophone; he is equally from the West Africa region.

Clearly, not many would doubt the capability of Moussa Faki Mahamat as the new head of the AU commission. However, the interesting questions one might be pardoned to ask are: What has necessitated the appointment of Moussa Faki Mahamat as the new AU commission chairperson ““ regional, linguistic balance or pure merit? If the appointment was based on the rotational criteria, how does this explain the fact that both chairpersons of the AU and the AU commission are not only from the same region of the continent (West Africa), they equally share the same Francophone identity? The answers to the above questions might perhaps interest those, who put other qualities in leadership above merit.

Definitely, to record any meaningful achievement in Africa, we must first bury our ethnic, religious, linguistic consciousness in the graveyard of history and choose qualified and meritorious leaders, who can deliver on the much-needed goals. Failure to do that, keeps Africa in a vicious circle of history at the expense of progress ““ socially, economically, politically.