AU summit dedicated to human and women’s rights

The 27th AU Summit in Kigali could be the last chaired by South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The 27th AU Summit in Kigali could be the last chaired by South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Rwanda showcases record on gender parity as African foreign ministers set the pace for landmark African Union (AU) summit that picked human and women’s rights as its theme.


Rwandan authorities have left no stone unturned to offer Africa its prettiest face. The newly constructed convention centre in Kimihurula is a masterpiece of Kigali’s transformation from a so-called city of death during the 1994 genocide to a city of life. Rwanda’s new charm is not just evident in the warm "karibu" or welcome and smiles you get from your first contact.

They are not short of ideas on how to showcase their vision and achievement in the areas that are on the agenda at this summit: dialogue on democracy, governance and violence against women and equal participation and leadership in politics.

That is evident in Kigali’s major streets filled with colourful billboards and posters branding the AU’s agenda for more solidarity, Pan-Africanism, self reliance, and independence for a united Africa.

Setting an Example

The opening of the Ministerial Conference is being overshadowed by the sacking of Rwanda's health minister, Agnès Binagwaho, whose five-year tenure has been ridden with allegations of gross mismanagement of resources allocated for the fight against malaria. Binagwaho is said to have spent more than 13.5 million euros on 3 million substandard mosquito nets, in 2013 alone according to a report by Rwanda’s auditor general

Binagwaho was the architect of Rwanda's widely-praised health as well as human rights programme. Her sacking at a moment when the country is showcasing its achievement in gender parity and governance is proof that that President Paul Kagame will not compromise on the principles that have dictated his conduct since 1994.

As the AU’s Permanent Executive Council gets down to work today to fine tune plans on how to tackle the scourge of human rights – especially those that have held down the emancipation of African women, pressure groups are clamouring for emergency plans to sustain the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa and Sub Saharan Africa where Somalia’s Shebab, al Qaeda in the Maghreb and Boko Haram have reversed gains made by struggling African economies.

Pan African passport

The AU Commission is also hoping that it can give momentum to its quest for greater unity through the presentation of symbolic Pan-African passports to the heads of state or government of the 55 African nations expected to attend the Kigali Summit.

Battle for AU Commission chair

The 27th AU Summit in Kigali could be the last chaired by South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. What that means is that one of the issues likely to dominate the multiple tête-à-têtes, common at summits, will be about finding a successor to  Dlamini-Zuma.

The three candidates are Botswana’s Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Uganda's Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe, and Equatorial Guinea's Agapito Mba Mokuy.

Some informed sources at the summit float the likelihood that the election of Dlamini-Zuma’s successor will probably be postponed as none of the candidates has elicited great support amongst  AU leaders.

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