Harare, January 28, 2016 – President Robert Mugabe Thursday left the country destined for the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he will surrender the continental body’s chairmanship following the end of his year long term.
The summit, which will be graced by fellow African leaders and representatives from the 54 nations, is being held under the theme “2016 – African Year Of Human Rights With Particular Focus On The Rights Of Women”.
President Mugabe, who returned home last weekend from a month long vacation in the Far East, was accompanied by Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Nyasha Chikwinya, presidential spokesperson George Charamba and some senior government officials.
The Zimbabwean leader will walk tall among his peers after the country’s Constitutional Court recently passed a landmark ruling barring the marriage of children below the age of 18.
Although the ruling covers both male and female Zimbabweans, it was celebrated largely by women’s rights campaigners.
The state media reported Thursday that some African diplomats and commissioners wanted the near 92-year-old statesmen to continue in his current AU position for another year after reportedly showing showing enthusiasm in seeing Africa offered a seat in the UN security council.
The move however did not find favour with some African envoys, it was further reported.
President Mugabe, who has been on US and EU sanctions for more than a decade, is often viewed a divisive figure by some Africans opposed to his radical stance towards the rich West, hitherto a benefactor to most African states.
Opponents too, back home, found his AU tenure as too burdensome to a leader whose country continues to slide into a deeper economic abyss.
In a statement last week, PDP secretary for international relations, Willius Madzimure, said Mugabe “folded his hands while Zimbabwe and Africa burns”.
“He (Mugabe) 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,” said Madzimure.
“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”.