Kikwete Emerges As Most Preferred Candidate for AU Chief

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Dr. Jakaya Kikwete

The charismatic former President of the United Republic of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete has emerged the consensus candidate who African leaders are looking to replace the current charismatic Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who decided in April this year not to seek a second term in office, thereby forcing an election for a successor. Dr. Dlamini-Zuma is allegedly running for an entirely different office outside the AU, to become the first female President of South Africa.
Upon her announcing her decision not to seek a second term, three countries immediately rushed to submit their candidates to replace her, after a voting by the entire body of the African Union Heads of State. These countries included Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, and Uganda – the first two represented by their former foreign ministers and Uganda represented by its former Vice President.
Immediately the submissions were released by the African Union Commission, this newspaper began a campaign to dissuade the African leaders from voting for any of the candidates representing some of the totalitarian dictators in Africa, including Equatorial Guinea whose President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has stayed in office for more than 36 years, and President Yoweri Museveni who has stayed in office for 30 years, and just held a sham election where the opposition candidate was imprisoned before the election.
In our campaign, I stated as follows, “Totalitarian dictators must not be rewarded with the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The time for such shameful action is past. Africa needs to turn a new leaf. We don’t need the august body to be tainted with the excreta of leaders who believe they are above the law, who hold sham elections while jailing their opponents. To effectively carry out Agenda 2063, the African Union needs a leader with clean hands. To allow the two candidates from Equatorial Guinea and Uganda to contest will be a disgrace to the continent, in which case a new deadline for submission of candidacies should be extended.”
With the Voice of America helping us to spread our message that African leaders should not reward totalitarian dictators with the highest post in the continent, the leaders heeded our advice. The African Union Heads of State met in Kigali, Rwanda, on the 17th and 18th July, for the 27th Summit of the Extraordinary Session of the organization. On the last day of the Summit, the 18th, the leaders voted for the three candidates including Botswana’s Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Mr. Agapito Mba Mokuy of Equatorial Guinea, and Uganda’s Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe. The first two were former foreign ministers of their respective countries, while that of Uganda was former Vice President.
When the first balloting ended, the Ugandan candidate withdrew for lack of support, leaving the candidates of Botswana and Equatorial Guinea to battle it out. After two more ballots as the African Union constituted act mandates, none of the two candidates had received the two-thirds of the vote needed to win the post of Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
Sources close to the African leaders said the majority of the 53 countries eligible to vote abstained because they were totally dissatisfied with the qualifications and experience of the three candidates. As no candidate secured the election, the election was suspended until the January Heads of State meeting which would take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
With the postponement of the election, new candidates are allowed to be nominated. This is where the excitement of the candidature of former President Jakaya Kikwete is engulfing the continent. African leaders see in Kikwete a consensus charismatic candidate that Africa needs at this crucial period of its history to pilot the affairs of the continent towards greater unity, peace and security, creation of more jobs for the teeming millions of African youth, more opportunities for women, more sustainable roles in combating diseases, with special emphasis on lessening the scourge of HIV/AIDS, creation of a huge continental market, less dependency on imperialist countries in the financing of the affairs of the continent, and specifically increased trade and tourism across the continent. More importantly to the Diaspora, the realization of the 6th Region.
Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (he has been bestowed with a lot of honorary doctorate degrees) served two terms of five-year duration as President of the United Republic of Tanzania, refusing to seek for a third or even fourth as has become the new norm in many countries around Tanzania. Apart from having served as President for a decade, Kikwete (born October 7, 1950) served in many important posts in the country before acceding to the position of President. In 1994, he was appointed Finance Minister of Tanzania, quickly followed with the post of Foreign Minister and International Cooperation, from which he stayed until he was elected President.
In 1977, he had been charged with the duty of unifying the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) in Zanzibar and TANU in the mainland when the two parties decided to merge to become the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). He had to move to the Island of Zanzibar to accomplish the goal.
Kikwete comes from a family of great public servants. His grandfather, Mrisho Kikwete was a local chief; his father was a District Commissioner during the colonial era, rose to the position of Regional Secretary, finally becoming Ombudsman when Tanzania became independent.
As I mentioned earlier, just like the outgoing Chairperson, President Kikwete is quite charismatic, he is down-to-earth, easily comfortable in the midst of the mighty and low, very media friendly. and quite focused on accomplishing set goals, including the Tanzania Vision 2025, which was borrowed from Malaysia, which he has successfully implemented in its incremental terms. One of his greatest areas of achievement is turning Tanzania into a tourism destination in East Africa. Tourism increased from 613,000 visitors to over 1.2 million visitors by 2014, and in dollar terms from $823 million to $1.9 billion under Kikwete’s presidency.
As we praise Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for her selfless service to Africa, especially agreeing to stay on till January, 2017 when the next election would be held to choose a new chairperson, African leaders have started expressing excitement that they have a man of stature and honor to take over where Dr. Dlamini-Zuma is ending her service. And the fact is that former President Jakaya Kikwete is willing and ready to honor Africa’s call to serve our motherland when called upon to do so. Let’s draft him.

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