Later this week, Zimbabwe’s strongman Robert Mugabe may rise to the helm of African Union, making a mockery of the African continental body at a time the world – and Africa especially – is grappling with challenges which require a roving continental diplomat to pitch to the world.
What role does AU play in normal lives of Africans? Â What can those ravaged by ebola, or abducted by Boko Haram say AU did to them when they needed a continental body to pull resources and, or, collectively raise their situation in a world distracted by je suis Charlie Hebdo, Cuba, King Abdullahi among others?
Mugabe, by default, takes over AU having been elected the chair of SADC, meaning he is currently the most powerful politician in the southern African economic federation, and, after this week, will be the face of Africa, for better and for worse.
Mugabe who just recently perpetrated a coup which saw his wife, Grace Mugabe, rise through the ZANU-PF ranks to rest just a heartbeat from succeeding him, in a political maneuver which left many victims and casualties on its path, will, by virtue of being AU head, witness 10 other elections scheduled in Africa for 2015.
The continental body has been often been called a â€œdictators club.â€ Â Africa’s 14 longest-serving heads of state have been in power for a combined 323 years.
Two presidents, Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema have been in office longer than Mugabe.
But Mugabe’s elevation isn’t new and seem to fit a new pattern where African leaders suffering international credibility are added more responsibilities which makes those who would have otherwise avoided dealing with them to do so. The East Africa Community, for example, and also IGAD both appointed President Uhuru as their chair, which made him a central player in the then international humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. President Uhuru was then facing charges at the ICC of crimes against humanity.