ZIMBABWE – The end of January 2016 will see President Robert Mugabe’s one year tenure as the African Union (AU) chair coming to an end. He will leave office as the weakest AU leader in the history of the organization so far.
If Mugabe’s miserable performance was to be placed on a scale of zero to ten he would score minus one.
Mugabe who assumed the chairpersonship of the 54 member states grouping in January 2015, amid high pitched excitement by his bootlickers, will go down in annals as the worst leader of the continental body. Under the nonagenarian’s stewardship, Africa endured one its bleakest period since the turn of the millennium.
His report card as AU chair shows that Africa continues to be ravaged by wars, terror attacks, coups, food shortages, droughts, diseases, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, corruption, human and child trafficking, child labour; and high unemployment while he and his continental henchmen stood akimbo.
As the AU chair, there is no doubt that Mugabe slept on the job while the continent and his own country, Zimbabwe, burnt. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe has trashed democracy and ruined the economy.
Mugabe failed to show astute leadership at a time when Africa was facing one of its worst Ebola outbreaks in West Africa which left thousands of people dead. The continent’s leadership stood with their hands folded and had to once again rely on the benevolence of the ‘hated’ western countries to fight the deadly outbreak. This is something of an irony given Mugabe’s strong anti-west rhetoric.
During the course of 2015 there were serious crises in Mali and Burkina Faso with the later country witnessing a coup de tat on 16 September 2015 by General Gilbert Diendere, commander of the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP). It had to take the intervention of the West African States leaders who brooked no nonsense of the coup and had they waited for the AU to act the citizens of Burkina Faso would be reeling under a brutal military regime.
The rise of Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and ISIS terror groups in Northern Nigeria, East Africa, West Africa and North Africa is of serious concern but Mugabe appeared to be lost in cuckoo land.
In Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia repeated terror attacks by ISIS which has led to the deaths of hundreds of people, mainly tourists, has seen tourism which is one of the economic engines of these countries drastically go down and thousands of people losing their jobs and livelihoods.
Only last week, 29 people were killed at a hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso by Al Qaeda which has been expanding its operations in West Africa in 2015. In Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger Boko Haram is engaged in daily deadly attacks on civilians who are soft targets of these cowardly elements. In Burundi genocide is unfolding and hundreds of people have been killed since last year by a man who highly admires Mugabe, Pierre Nkurunzinza.
To all these heinous acts the continental leader seemed to turn a blind eye, maybe realizing he has often relied on the same tactics to extend his rule.
Trying to escape these daily hardships, thousands of Africans are fleeing to Europe through high seas using rickety boats and a great number of them have drowned and their bodies have not been recovered. The worst of this occurring in August of 2015 when about 700 refugees escaping to Europe from Libya drowned after the boat they were sailing in shipwrecked just outside Libyan waters. The AU chair maintained his deafening silence on this tragic incidence.
However, the 92 year old strongman has never missed the occasion to attend presidential inaugurations in Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria and several other African countries. While attending ceremonies in all these countries the irony that peaceful democratic elections and change of leaders is a taboo in his own country was lost to him.
The shocking events happening in Africa show that the continent is need of leaders who are strategic and stand by the people in their time of need not globetrotters and aloof lip service Machiavelli politicians like Mugabe.
The year 2015 thus portrayed the short comings of African leadership and the doctrine of African solutions to African problems. African leadership has shown to be incompetent, heartless, power hungry and withdrawn from its people’s lives, qualities which largely define Mugabe’s post liberation leadership of his people. Indeed in 2015 Africa raised its most lethargic leadership to the continental helm for the world to see the tragedy that is African leadership.
Therefore, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) urges the incoming AU chair to seriously consider the plight of the people of Africa and work hard in fighting and ending the troubles that Africans are facing every day.
Africans require a new leadership that is able to build strong regional ties by strengthening democratic and economic institutions, pushing for the respect of the rule of law and upholding the sacred rights of the people. Economic development must also be at the centre of defining the incoming leadership especially guided by the 2016 theme of the AU which places emphasis on human rights especially that of women.
In order for this year’s theme to be meaningful to the peoples of Africa robust leadership is needed to address poverty, ballooning unemployment, access to health and education as well as to increase the security of persons and communities.