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Zimbabwe Opposition Parties Slam Mugabe's Elevation to AU Chair

FILE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe began his one-year term as chairman of the African Union at the start of the summit Friday.

Some opposition parties in Zimbabwe and political analysts say President Robert Mugabe’s elevation to the position of African Union chairperson will not resolve the country’s social, economic and political challenges.

Most local opposition parties are of the view that President Mugabe’s new continental post will not benefit Zimbabwe.

National spokesperson Brian Dube of the Movement for Democratic Change's youth wing says the president’s elevation is retrogressive.

His views are echoed by former MDC-T legislator Misheck Tofamangwana Kagurabadza of the same MDC formation led by former prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who says African leaders let down the continent in appointing Mr. Mugabe as the AU chairperson.

He says the Zimbabwean leader, who has been power since independence from British rule in 1980, should not have been elevated to that post because of his alleged poor human rights record.

Passmore Nyakureba, a lawyer and chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association or ZimRights in Manicaland province says it is welcome that Zimbabwe has the right to lead the African Union as it is done on a rotational basis.

However, Nyakureba says since President Mugabe is currently the leader of Zimbabwe that makes it difficult for him to fully comply with expectations and desires of human rights defenders who feel that he is not the best person to deal with such issues.

Dydmus Dewa, a peace, conflict resolution and development studies lecturer with the Zimbabwe Open University, speaking as an independent analyst, says President Mugabe's identity as a pan-Africanist puts him in a better position to occupy the AU chairmanship.

But Dewa also says it should not be expected that Zimbabwe and Africa at large will benefit much from Mr. Mugabe's chairmanship of the continental body.

Vincent Chakunda, a PhD candidate in public administration with Fort Hare University, also speaking as an independent analyst, says it is too simplistic to dismiss the importance of the AU chairmanship as it is a strategic position.

Chakunda says Mr. Mugabe could use the position to spruce up Africa's image and to re-engage with the international community.

While congratulating President Mugabe for being chosen to the rotational position, president Marcelina Chikasha of the African Democratic Party describes as an anomaly, the fact that the president has been chosen to chair the AU while there are problems linked to issues of good governance in his own country.

Responding to the question on whether or not President Mugabe's concurrent chairing of the regional Southern African Development Community bloc and the AU might impact on how the two bodies might broker any problems that may be brought before them by the Zimbabwean opposition, Chikasha argued that Zimbabweans must learn to solve their own problems without looking to outsiders.

Pishai Muchauraya of the MDC-Renewal formation in Manicaland province believes the elevation of President Mugabe is a sad chapter in African history and clear indication that African heads of states and governments are not serious leaders.

But, Tobius Machinga a Zanu PF member in Manicaland province argues that Mr. Mugabe’s elevation is testimony of good leadership qualities of the 90-year old veteran politician.

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