By Kizito Sikuka.
African leaders will meet later in January to chart the continent’s development agenda and to appoint a new leadership team for the African Union secretariat, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The 28th Ordinary Assembly of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government is set for 30 to 31 January in Addis Ababa.
According to the draft agenda, one of the key issues for discussion is the appointment of a new leadership at the AU Commission to steer deeper integration in Africa. The commission is responsible for the running and delivery of the AU agenda to advance greater continental integration for a more prosperous Africa.
All members that make up the top leadership at the AU Commission have reached their first or second term limits or resigned, hence the need to appoint a new team. The commission’s constitution limits the term of service to four years, renewable once.
The summit will elect a new chairperson, deputy chair and eight commissioners. The eight commissioners are responsible for peace and security; political affairs; trade and industry; infrastructure and energy; social affairs; rural economy and agriculture; human resources, science and technology; and economic affairs.
A total of five candidates are vying for the position of Africa’s top civil servant. These are Botswana Foreign Affairs Minister – and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) candidate – Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi; Dr. Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad; Agapito Mba Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea; Dr. Amina Mohammed of Kenya; and Dr. Abdoulaye Bathily of Senegal.
Of the five candidates, only Dr Venson-Moitoi and Mokuy participated in the earlier elections held in July 2016 that failed to produce a winner as none of the candidates garnered the required two-thirds of the vote hence the need to reschedule the elections to the upcoming January meeting.
The other candidate in the July election was Dr Specioza Kazibwe of Uganda, who has since withdrawn her candidature.
The elections of a new chairperson follows an announcement by the incumbent, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa to resign after her first term of office came to an end in June 2016.
She was the first southern African and first woman to head the AU Commission in 2012,.
A key achievement of the AU during the leadership of Dr Dlamini-Zuma is the continental vision of the future, titled Agenda 2063, and related planning documentation such as the “Concept Note on Domestication of Agenda 2063 in Member States of the Union”.
The concept document defines the proposed role of individual countries and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), such as SADC, to achieve the targets and goals of Agenda 2063.
The regional communities are tasked to issue regional specific Agenda 2063 implementation strategies, as well as monitoring and evaluation guidelines to member states.
Southern African News Features are produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC)