Wednesday, May 23, 2012

7 Reasons Jean Ping needs to step aside as African Union Commission's Chair

In January, the African Union Summit held in its very new headquarters.  The one donated by China. One of the items on the agenda was the election of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Since the creation of the original Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which later became AU, the election or re-election of the Commission Chair has never really been a huge issue..... because consensus has been the order of the day.  But in January, it became and issue. Jean Ping, out-going chief did not secure enough votes to ensure his re-election. And the African Union executive leadership, is facing a democracy limbo.  If you did not follow the initial story,  the Guardian has a good account here

The tussle was first between Jean Ping, incumbent AUC Chair and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zulu.  Later the tussle was between Jean Ping and nobody, and Jean ping still did not get enough votes.

This post is from an ordinary Africa who thinks it is time for Jean Ping to quit  AUC Chieftaincy.  Here are at least 7 reasons.

His role in recent conflicts: Maybe because I live in Cote d'Ivoire. But I must say that the role that the AUC played during post-election crises in the country was a sorry one. The ping-pong politics of the AU increased the loss of lives.  Were it not for ECOWAS that stood up and stood straight.. we would still be in war now. During the Libyan one, AUC slipped into the reactive mode.. accusing others who "were doing something". For Mali.. I cannot even recall what the AUC position and pro-active initiative is.. and now there is Guinea Bissau..
My gut feeling here is that African issues are moving faster than the kind of politics that Jean Ping is used to. The everyday ping-pong, stomaching nonsense, and several diplomatic meetings-type of conflict resolution.  I may be wrong, but that is my opinion.

Second reason is one that may sound "weird".  Jean Ping is Francophone.  Yes.  He is from Gabon.  He has been AUC Chair since  September 2008.  He took over from Alpha Omar Konaré of Mali, who held the position from September 2003.  Konaré took over from Amara Essy of Cote d'Ivoire who was the last OAU Commission Chief, and transitioned into the AUC.

The third reason is the democracy one. If the constituency deems that an Incumbent has done well, at least 2 out of 3 will want him back.  Incidentally, that is also the quota fixed by the AU. Even after the rival withdrew, Jean Ping still could not win the 2/3rds.  Here is my honest opinion - "Your Excellency, please walk the talk".  Take a bow, and leave. Make room, give room and let there be space for another.

Confidence is my other reason. As the days come and go, the level of confidence is dwindling.  Even some delegations that said "yes" at the beginning are now saying "no". For this kind of post, the level of trust, of confidence, of comfort from the constituency is important. I think  all of that are on the downward lane. Insisting on remaining will be  akin to telling the African people "I quit when I want, and I dont care what you think"

 Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the other candidate. Apart from being qualified for the job, I personally think that for the reasons above, she will have a better start.  A fresh clean start is more preferable to a rocky continuation. If it were a tussle between Jean Ping and just another political figure, maybe I would reconsider.  But Nkosazana herself is a huge reason that Jean Ping needs to step aside. You have an able leader take over.

The one other reason, which I also deem important is that the time is right for a lady to Chair the AUC. We have had enough men in that position.  Give a lady the confidence, let her in. We have a qualified lady. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has proved it. This continent needs to have more women leaders! The AUC itself is doing a good job at female Commissioners.  The time is right for a woman to be the face of AU!!  Just by the way, the next summit will happen in Lilongwe, Malawi.  In the very country where Her Excellency Joyce Banda is President of the Republic. 

The last reason why Jean Ping should not be re-elected is Jean Ping himself. In my consultations for this blog, a reliable source told me the following story. "Jean Ping is the one who came to South Africa, and canvassed for a South African candidacy.  He informed the government of South Africa that he was retiring and it would be a great thing for him to be replaced by someone from South Africa"

Whatever happened between the Jean Ping trip to South Africa and the elections is a story that Africans have a right to hear.

Suffice it to say.. that there are at least 7 reasons that Jean Ping should step aside as AUC Chairperson in July.

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