With Rwanda’s Kaberuka Out, The Race For Next AU Chief Heads For Big Regional Face-Off In January (UPDATED)

Nov. 25, 2016  UPDATE: AS the meeting of African leaders in January 31, 2017 to try again to elect  a new African Union Commission chief nears, the race has become quite heated.

In our story below first published  July 28, and last revised on September 5, we offered a list of possible worthy candidates, and an opinion poll on them,  after none of the three  who had been nominated to the outgoing chair of the Commission, South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, could muster the necessary votes from the continent’s leaders at their summit in Kigali on July 18.

The favourite in our opinion poll, Rwanda’s Donald Kaberuka, the charismatic former president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has ruled himself firmly out of the race.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Amina Mohamed, whom we had listed as a possible candidate, has now thrown her hat in the ring. She has received the backing of the regional bloc, the East African Community (EAC), and her chances are being talked up. Kenya has launched a massive diplomatic offensive to win support for her.


Abdoulaye Bathily: West Africa has rallied behind him

Senegalese politician and diplomat, Abdoulaye Bathily, too has jumped into the fray.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has thrown its weight behind him, giving him a much needed boost. To a large extent, it was the abstention of the West African states at the Kigali vote that led to the failure to elect a new CEO for the continental body.

Botswana’s Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, who got the most votes in July, is still in the run, effectively cornering the Southern African Development Community (SADC) vote. In contention too are Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat, and Equatorial Guinea’s Agapito Mba Mokuy.

With North Africa not having a prominent candidate at this point, the region might decide the winner.

The AU’s last host, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, has meanwhile set up a committee, dubbed the “A-Team” by the media, to recommend a reform of the AU, especially its troubled financing, as mandated by the Kigali summit.

The nine-member comprises Cameroonian Acha Leke, a senior partner with global consultancy firm, McKinsey & Co; Cristina Duarte, the former Minister of Finance of Cabo Verde; Donald Kaberuka; Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa; Mariam Mahamat Nour, Chad’s minister of Economy, Planning, and International Cooperation; Amina J. Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Environment; Strive Masiyiwa, a London-based Zimbabwean businessman; Tito Mboweni, former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank; and Vera Songwe, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, International Finance Corporation.

In addition to Kaberuka, Lopes, Amina J. Mohammed, and Mboweni had been on Rogue Chiefs’ July list and poll as candidates who made the grade as good prospects to replace Dlamini-Zuma.


Vote For Kaberuka Holds At 68%, Another Rwandan 2nd At 13% – Would Any Of These Africans Make Good AU Chiefs?

Sept. 5, 2016: FORMER African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka is still decisively leading the list as the favourite candidate to be the next African Union Commission chief, according to a poll of readers of Rogue Chiefs.

Kaberuka, who was AfDB until last year, and previously Rwanda’s Finance minister, is hold on to a dominant 68% in a field of 15 candidates. In second place is Rwanda’s Foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo, with 13%, overtaking Uganda’s Winnie Byanyima who had been in second spot for a while. Byanyima is now third with 6%. Byanyima is current Executive Director of Oxfam International. This means all the three top candidates are from East African.

Support for Kaberuka spiked sharply over a ago, as AU diplomats suggested that there seemed to be a continent-wide push to get him on the ticket, if not in the job. A flood of pro-Kaberuka comments have also marked the upturn.

AU leaders meeting in their recent summit in Kigali, Rwanda, failed to choose a new chairperson, who functions as the CEO of the continental body, to replace South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Dlamini-Zuma, in very unAfrican fashion, decided to step down after just one term, and was due to leave her post at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in a few weeks.

At the AU summit on July 18, none of the three candidates who had been nominated to take her place could muster the necessary votes from the continent’s leaders.

The AU leaders will give it another shot the next summit, in Addis Ababa, in January next year, in the hope that more suitable new candidates will have been found.

AU huddle

Rwanda president Paul Kagame (standing), AU Commission chief Dlamini-Zuma (sitting to his left), AU Chairperson president Idriss Deby of Chad (white hat) and officials “plot” a move at the recent summit in Kigali. (Photo/PK/Flickr).

The three candidates who couldn’t close the deal were Botswana’s Foreign Affairs minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, representing southern Africa; Equatorial Guinean Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy, representing central Africa, and former Ugandan vice president Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe, representing east Africa.

Venson-Moitoi got the most votes of the lot in the end, but he needed more. The vote was marred by, among other things, a record 30 abstentions.

We believe that Africa has over 25 very qualified candidates to replace Dlamini-Zuma, especially from the business and economic sectors, beyond the ones whom the political leaders are now toying with. Whether they can be persuaded to throw their hats in the ring, and overcome the sometimes murky AU politics, is another matter.

On July 28, we published a list of  seven possible candidates and asked you to VOTE for your favourite if you were happy with any of them. But, most importantly, if you were not, to send in a name of a good African you think could hack it via the COMMENTS section below, with two lines of their bio. Also attach a photo if possible.

You did exactly that, sending in a list of from which we picked eight, bringing the number to 15. We add them below.

Donald P. Kaberuka is a Rwandan economist and was the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), from September 2005 until September 2015.

Donald Kaberuka, chairman African Development Bank, reading the 2014 report from APP Grain Fish Money while attending the African Development Bank Group annual meetings in Kigali, during APP panel meeting.In November 2015, the Rockefeller Foundation appointed Kaberuka to its board of trustees. Immediately after he left the AfDB, he joined Harvard Kennedy School’s Centre for Public Leadership as Hauser Leader-in-Residence. He’s also currently the AU High Representative for the peace fund, tasked with mobilising additional resources for the continental body’s peace and security related activities.


Tito Mboweni, Governor Emeritus of the South African Reserve Bank, South Africa at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2015 in Cape Town. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von LoebellTito Titus Mboweni was the eighth Governor of the South African Reserve Bank and the first black South African to hold the post. His candidacy would help southern Africa “finish its second term”.





April 23, 2010 - Washington DC., World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. Water and Sanitation Event.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian economist best known for her two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria and for her long standing career at the World Bank, where she rose to the position of Managing Director.





Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei is an Egyptian law scholar and diplomat who was the last Vice President of Egypt serving on an acting basis from 14 July 2013 until his resignation on August 14, 2013.

He was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009.



October 2, 2009 - World Bank / IMF Annual Meetings, Istanbul, Turkey. World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick special event panel discussion with France 24. Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin is Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, Ethiopia.

Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin is an Ethiopian economist and the trail-blazing former Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange.



Makhtar Diop

Makhtar Diop has served as the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa since May 2012. A well-regarded Senegalese economist and politician, he also has served as Minister of Economy and Finance in the second government of President Abdoulaye Wade.




Byanyima 2Winnie Byanyima is Executive Director of Oxfam International. She served eleven years in the Ugandan Parliament, and has served at the African Union Commission and as Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme.

She co-founded Global Gender and Climate Alliance and chaired a UN task force on gender aspects of the Millennium Development Goals, and on climate change. If Uganda still has to provide an AU chief, it has a good option here.

And the new eight candidates:

Hanna Tetteh


Hanna Tetteh, is a Ghanaian lawyer and politician. She is the country’s current minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana







Pravin Gordhan is a South African politician and current Minister of Finance, a position he had previously held from 2009-2014.




Louise Mushikiwabo


Louise Mushikiwabo is a Rwandan politician who has served as its minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of since 2009.






mohamed-amina Nigeria


Amina J. Mohammed is Nigeria’s minister of the Environment.





amina c. mohamed Kenya


Amina C. Mohammed is Kenya’s Foreign minister. She previously served as Chairwoman of the International Organisation for Migration and the World Trade Organisation’s General Council, as well as Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.


Steven Were Onamo


Steven Were Omamo, is a Kenyan and the current Deputy Director, Policy and Programme and Coordinator of Food Systems Strategy Policy and Support at the UN’s World Food Programme.






Henry Odein Ajumogobia, is a well regarded Nigerian lawyer, and also the country’s minister of Foreign Affairs and minister of state for Petroleum during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.





Thabo Mbeki


Thabo Mbeki is a South African politician who served nine years as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008. On September 20, 2008, with about nine months left in his second term, Mbeki announced his resignation after being recalled by the National Executive Committee of the ruling ANC.

Mbeki has mediated in complex issues on the African continent including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ivory Coast, and some important peace agreements. He oversaw the transition from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU).


VOTE for any of these, or send in your choice through the COMMENTS section at the end of the article, so the leaders can have a long list of at least 25 candidates – which they could probably reject, but hey!


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