ZIMBABWE – As President Robert Mugabe’s tenure as Africa Union chairperson comes to end at the 26th AU summit being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, there are mixed views in the county about how he fared as the political head of the continental body with government officials and his party supporters praising him for a job well done.
His opponents claim that Zimbabwe did not benefit from his chairmanship.
Most of the president’s critics say President Mugabe performed badly as African Union chairperson as he spent huge sums of money travelling to various countries, at times at the expense of Zimbabwean taxpayers.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, claimed that Zimbabwe incurred huge financial losses as a result for his AU chairmanship.
He said the president should have used his AU chairmanship to open new trade opportunities for Zimbabweans and other Africans instead of always attacking the West for wrong reasons.
There are some local people who believe that the president should have resolved most conflicts in Africa.
Kurauone Chihwayi, spokesperson of the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube, said Mr. Mugabe failed to resolve political conflicts in Nigeria, Burundi, Mali and several others.
But Zanu PF Youth League member, Tongai Kasukuwere, defended Mr. Mugabe saying he had done so much in dealing with the crises as some countries were not co-operating.
His views were echoed by Zanu PF legislator, Kindness Paradza of Makonde, who said the president did well and scored many successes such as the eradication of poverty.
Great Zimbabwe University lecturer, Joel Mukusha, added that Mr. Mugabe has done well in tackling the issue of sustainability and self-reliance on the continent.
He said as guru on the African continent, the president pushed for Africa to have permanent representation on the United Nations Security Council.
But some critics like political commentators Masimba Kuchera and Fortune Gwaze said there was nothing an AU chairperson could do as it was more of a ceremonial position.
Kuchera said it was important for successive AU leaders to continue lobbying for a permanent seat on the AU Security Council.
Democracy activist, Claris Madhuku, said while there might have been no tangible benefits to the country, Mr. Mugabe benefitted in a big way as the AU chairmanship legitimized his rule in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Mugabe hands over the chairmanship to President Idriss Deby of Chad at a time when the continent is plagued by several crises in various African countries.