Ethiopia: African Union holds historic debate for top Commission post

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Five candidates racing for the post of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) met on Friday for a podium debate on how they intend to handle some of the pressing political, economic and social challenges facing Africa ahead of elections in January 2017.

The candidates from Botswana, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya and Senegal, all gunning for the top African Union (AU) leadership post, gathered in Addis Ababa, where each spelled their grand vision for Africa. Each one spelt their prospective solutions to the challenges of governance in Africa.

The candidates each made their opening remarks, emphasising their qualification for the post of Chairperson, to replace the incumbent Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who opted not to renew her mandate.

During the debate, titled “Mjadala Afrika,” or the “African Debate,” each candidate articulated their vision for the African youth, women and how to handle the challenge of employment creation.

They also discussed the free movement of people within Africa, creating a borderless Africa, regional integration, ending political instability and financing of the continental body.

“We need to create jobs for the youth through training,” said Musa Faki, the Chadian candidate.

“We need employment and training and we must look at the economic models that would enable us to achieve this goal. I would work on concrete measures with the Commissioner in charge of youth affairs to deal with youth unemployment in this era of technology,” Faki told the audience.
Emphasising on the need for concrete solutions to the challenges facing the youth, the Chadian candidate said: “It is time for Africa to come back to the founding principles. We talk a lot about reality but our people are dying trying to look for a place to live. I doubt the African passport would benefit the Heads of State the way they would benefit our business people and school-going children.”

Critics said the debate lacked critical and contentious subjects such as the place of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the fight against impunity in Africa, the pending return of Morocco to the AU, foreign military intervention in conflicts and third-term bids by several African leaders.

However, the candidates offered their prospective solutions to the topical issues, including how to make the youth and women productive within the continent.

“This is an issue close to my heart,” said Amina Mohamed, Kenyan foreign affairs Cabinet Secretary. “We must include women and youth in our decision-making. We must give the youth a chance to commercialise their ideas. We need dignified livelihoods for the youth,” Mohamed said.

The Kenyan candidate said being the first generation after the liberation of Africa from colonial rule, the AU Commission required reforms and a youthful staff to deliver its vision, which includes internship postings for the youth in both public and private organisations.

Each of the candidates offered their unique ideas on how to deal with the youth unemployment.

Botswana’s Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, said the challenge facing the youth and women in Africa included traditional practices including early marriages and Female Genital Mutilation, which still required the AU’s interventions and the need to remodel children as well as protect women and children.

Senegalese candidate Abdoulaye Bathily said women should be put at the heart of decision-making.

“The solutions are here in Africa and these are issues we can deal with decisively. Education should not be about employment but about ending discrimination. We need to put women at the heart of economic processes,” Prof. Bathily told the debate.

Equatorial Guinea’s Agapito Mokuy insisted he personified the youth and their quest for change. He asked leaders in Africa to remember the pleas of Africa’s founding leaders in their efforts to ensure free movement of people, goods and services and to make the free movement of people the engine of growth.

“The movement of goods and capital is an engine for economic growth. It is the lack of economic opportunities that makes our people to move to Europe,” Mokuy said.
-0- PANA AO/MA 9Dec2016

10 december 2016 00:15:00

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