Mugabe’s AU chairmanship: Can Africa draw any value?

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s call for Africa to immediately withdraw from The Hague-based International Criminal Court has put him under the spot on whether his African Union (AU) chairmanship would be of any value to Africa.

Everson Mushava

For a continent plagued with problems of all sorts, ranging from hunger to civil wars, Mugabe’s 35-year-experience as the Zimbabwean leader was expected to bring value to the 54-member block.

Having been present at the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) whose formation was spearheaded by African statesman who included the late Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah and the late Tanzanian President Julius Mwalimu Nyerere, most people thought Mugabe would play a critical role in driving Africa back to its founding values, that include the promotion of democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.

But Renewal Team spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Mugabe belonged to an era when OAU was a club of presidents whose focus was to fight colonial rule and not to promote democratic values and accountability to the continent.

“It was meant to be a ceremonial club without obligations to its people with the purpose of merely defeating colonialism,” Mafume said.

He said Mugabe’s blasting of the ICC shows that his thrust was on sovereignty and African solidarity, and not on rights of the African people. He said the Zimbabwean strongman would be a liability to the continent as he had no regard for human rights issues but focused more on African solidarity.

Apart from promoting peace, security and stability on the continent, one of the AU’s founding values is promotion of people’s rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.

But six months down the line after Mugabe assumed AU chairmanship, his stance has created new debate on whether his AU chairmanship could be of any value to Africa, or he is set to poison the whole continent and force it to move generations into its dark past.

“Now it has grown to be a union of not only heads of state, but the people as well. It has adopted human rights charters and African courts which Mugabe does not support. The AU court in Tanzania is not working yet he complains about ICC. It needs an energetic young leader whose eyes are in the future rather than in the past like Mugabe,” said Mafume.

“We need a common position on Africa, on development and trade, on emigration to Europe and the emerging new forms of slavery and trade in humans. We need a position on terrorism and rising Islamic fundamentalism. We need to stem the tide against democracy by head of States who need more time in power. Mugabe has no moral authority to deal with these issues.”

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for seven presidential terms, at the just-ended 25th AU summit in South Africa, sparked controversy when he said there was nothing wrong with a president seeking a third term even against the Constitution if the people liked him.

The utterances on ICC, apart from poking fun at other countries, particularly South Africa, claiming that they were still colonies, has put him on the spotlight.

Most think his attack on the ICC is self-serving.

Many people had thought Mugabe would use the continental grouping to put Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza — whose country is sliding into anarchy caused by his intention to run for a third term — under check.

But the summit is over and the opportunity to put other leaders with the mentality of Nkurunziza on the radar has been lost.

“People are dying in Burundi, but he (Mugabe) simply cracks jokes. Africans are drowning in the sea trying to get to Europe yet he says nothing,” Mafume said.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said while he admitted that Mugabe had inherent qualities required to stir the continental body, age had eroded his leadership skills over time. He said he doubted if the Zimbabwe strongman still had the mental and physical stability to hold the rotational post.

For a country which has been regarded as a pariah State for over a decade, the AU post could have helped Mugabe redeem the country’s fortunes on the international scene.

Masunungure said although in a way the AU could be right on its calls to pull out of the ICC, it was a necessary demon in the absence of domestic remedies to the continent’s unending problem.
Mugabe, he said, as a veteran leader, should have called for reforms to the Rome Statute than its complete nullification.

“Mugabe should advocate for reforming of the ICC, not its dissolution. Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe and Sadc and AU chairman, can do a lot for himself by supporting reforms to the ICC that its annulment,” Masungungure said.

“The ICC has potential. That it targets Africa might not be very true because it is Africa itself that hands its leaders to the ICC. The solution is to reform, not to annul it.”

MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said: “Robert Mugabe has a very chequered political history; especially in matters to do with election management. His brand is damaged. He is perceived as an intolerant dictator who wants to hang onto power until he meets his maker. Surely the AU deserves better.”

Like Masunungure, Gutu said Mugabe’s age made him a liability and not an asset to the AU.
Mugabe has gone around the continent soon after his appointment, but is yet to solve
39a single crisis in any African State.

Burundi could have been an opportunity for him to salvage his legacy as the remaining African father, but he compounded the situation by somewhat seemingly endorsing a third term for Nkurunziza at a time street protests against the incumbent were rising and people dying.

12 Comments

  1. ok , but ipawo wafana wane technology power.

    african presidents use politics to make fortunes.

    guys if there is any terorist group imploying i am in .

  2. R.G.Mugabe is the only surviving leader at 91 who dsnt have a grand child. Mathematically if he had a child at 20 his oldest child should be 71 today, three years older than Mnangagwa who is 68 ,if the son/daughter had a child at 20,Mugabe’s grand child should be 51 today almost the age of Grace Mugabe(49), if the grand child has a child at 20, Mugabe’s grand grand child should be 31 today almost the age of Psychology Maziwisa (32), if the grand grand child had a child at 20, Mugabe’s great grand grand grand child should be 11.What does this mean to us in 2015, we are being lead by an ancestor .shame shame shame, then you wonder how Africa is going to emerge out of war and poverty if they allow spirit mediums to lead them .

    1. This is rather a callous comment. Dont let your hatred of Mugabe destroy your hunhu. We all know Mugabes life history and why your observation is so.

  3. This is a tired story. Its not only Mugabe who wants to leave the ICC. The majority of African countries no longer want to be associated with it. Your obsession with Mugabe is nauseating!!

  4. handifunge kuti chiancestor ini ithink kuti chidhoma coz our ancestors were fathers to us how can they want us to suffer like this ,

  5. As long as this country remain under Roman Dutch law one day the law will catch up with them wait and see.

  6. How can you expect a thug to accept meeting a policeman hunting him for yesterday’s murder.

  7. This is a fictitious article. The OAU was never founded to propel democracy in Africa remember even Idi Amin got to be it’s chair. And who, ” expected to bring value to the 54-member block.” Africa has never had any values that concern it’s citizens. Countries serve the leader and his family, clan and tribe. This is a hopeless continent. The AU HQ was donated by China, the AU secretariat is funded by USAID and other western sympathisers. This is a great shame really. That’s why no one in the whole wide world wants to be called an African ( blacks have no choice) but even Somalis and Ethiopians cringe when called Africans, not to mention North Africans.

    A whole race completely devoid of pride. Begging to the end of time.

    1. I don’t cringe to be called African. Europe has been in our current phase, Holocaust huh, Italian dictators huh as recent as 1940s, even the orients have had Hirohito in Japan, Korean dictators currently reigning. Massacres in USA. Actually, one is more proud to be called African than any other race. We have evils among us, but we have not mass destroyed each other like races you silently promote. Perpetual discrimination of africans as in USA shootings and police brutality. Africans are more democratic than any other race of people, its just that Mugabe is defeating our quest to be number one democracy and model third world economy, not that it makes us less democratic than Europeans. I have been very wordy but I hope you got my point.

  8. When Tsvangirayi blasted the AU some called him mad, but I have seen those who think AU is relevant are the ones who are really mad.

  9. I don’t cringe to be called African. Europe has been in our current phase, Holocaust huh, Italian dictators huh as recent as 1940s, even the orients have had Hirohito in Japan, Korean dictators currently reigning. Massacres in USA. Actually, one is more proud to be called African than any other race. We have evils among us, but we have not mass destroyed each other like races you silently promote. Perpetual discrimination of africans as in USA shootings and police brutality. Africans are more democratic than any other race of people, its just that Mugabe is defeating our quest to be number one democracy and model third world economy, not that it makes us less democratic than Europeans. I have been very wordy but I hope you got my point.

  10. My answer to your question is no. All one has to do is look at the fruit of what Zim is. A leader should be something altogether different that bitter acerbic racialist tribal clanistic egotistic selfish and power hungry. A leader unites and encourages his people. He does not divide and destroy them I could go on and on and on. Tis sad.

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