Zuma to report Kenya’s request on AUC nominee to SADC

African News Agency (ANA)

Zuma to report Kenya’s request on AUC nominee to SADC
Jacob Zuma answers questions at Parliament in Cape Town, in this picture taken March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

South African President Jacob Zuma left Kenya with an unusual request from host President Uhuru Kenyatta to please support Kenya’s candidate foreign minister Amina Mohammed in the election for the new African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson.

Kenyatta’s spokesperson Manoah Esipisu confirmed to ANA on Thursday that the two leaders discussed the AUC succession race on Tuesday in Nairobi during Zuma’s state visit.

“The matter was discussed, but the deliberations are not open to the public. President Zuma will report the deliberations to the SADC (Southern African Development Community),” said Esipisu.

Kenyatta’s request to Zuma was odd because SADC — including South Africa — unanimously endorsed the candidature of Botswana’s Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi for the top AU job at its last summit in Swaziland on August 31, this year.

Kenya’s push for the job, Esipisu said, would continue as Kenyatta sends emissaries to the other regional blocs with a view to lobbying support to send Mohammed to the helm of the AU Commission.

“We have a candidate in the race and when you have a candidate you have to build consensus with everyone, not just the SADC, but EAC (East African Community) and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States)… that is what we are doing,” Esipisu said.

The geopolitical headache for Kenya is to convince the rest of the continent that its foreign minister has the experience to run the AU Commission. Kenya will also have to sell its pan-Africanist agenda which it exhibited during the lobbying against the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) indictment of Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

Kenyatta is also like to encounter resistance from most Francophone countries which want a Francophone AU Commission chair to replace South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. When she was elected in 2012, most Francophone countries backed one of their own, Gabon’s Jean Ping, to serve a second term.

Aggrey Mutambo, a Kenyan journalist who reports on diplomacy and foreign affairs for the Daily Nation, told ANA that those two issues could derail Mohammed’s chances. But if SADC and EAC joined hands in lobbying for Kenya’s nominee, then her chances would improve.

“Kenya can sell its Pan-African agenda and Amina’s role in pushing that agenda,” said Mutambo in an interview.

He added that diplomats were saying that Botswana had not voted with the rest of the continent in the AU against the ICC and that would damage Venson-Moitoi’s chances.

Venson-Moitoi’s bid has also been weakened by her failure to muster enough support when AU leaders voted to try to elect a replacement for Dlamini Zuma at their last summit in Kigali in June. The other two candidates also failed to win enough support and so the AU postponed the election to their next summit, in Addis Ababa, in January.

Kenyatta nominated Mohammed after the June summit when the AU opened the contest to new candidates.

“Given her track record, I am confident that Amina Mohamed will serve our continent with the requisite professionalism, intellect, skill, integrity, passion and commitment,” Kenyatta said at the time.

“ I have no doubt that her international experience and exposure will be an invaluable asset in driving African Commission in the achievement of Africa`s immense potential.”

Kenyatta may just be making mischief for Botswana President Ian Khama by publicly asking for South Africa and SADC’s support for Mohammed. Clearly Khama’s support for the ICC’s indictment of Kenyatta and Ruto — alone among African leaders — rankled Kenyatta.

Kenyatta would also know that Botswana is already suspicious that South Africa might be secretly “de-campaigning” Venson-Moitoi despite its public endorsement of her.

The ICC indicted Kenyatta and Ruto for orchestrating political violence after the controversial 2007 elections but eventually suspended the charges for lack of evidence. Many witnesses had disappeared mysteriously.

SOURCEAfrican News Agency (ANA)