Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe left Harare on Thursday for an African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia, amid vehement denials by a top commissioner that AU diplomats have expressed desire to see Mr. Mugabe serving a second term as chairman of the continental bloc.
After leading a visit by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs to the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa this week, Zanu PF legislator Kindness Paradza said AU commissioners and diplomats wanted the ageing leader to stay.
"The majority of African ambassadors in Addis Ababa and AU commissioners had a consensus that if it was possible, President Mugabe would be given a second term as chairman or assume any other supreme role to fulfil the Pan-African vision of the continental body," Paradza told the state-run Herald newspaper.
But African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha told Studio 7, in an exclusive interview, that “that is false information.”
“That's not true. That is false information, I am hearing it for the first time,” Mwencha said.
As President Mugabe steps aside, critics and admirers are weighing his achievements and failures at the helm of the AU.
Independent political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya offered an indicting take, saying there was absolutely nothing that Mugabe, who turns 92 next month, achieved as AU chair.
“If it was an examination, I would give him zero out of ten,” said Ngwenya.
He said expecting Mr. Mugabe to have resolved the many problems bedeviling Africa when he has failed to deal with the political and economic crises in his own country was being too ambitious.
But Zanu PF legislator Joseph Tshuma disagreed, saying Mugabe leaves behind an indelible legacy at the African Union.