ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA —
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says although the African Union’s theme for its 24th AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week is women empowerment, it is impossible for women to be at par with men politically because of their biological role of bearing children.
Responding to questions from VOA Studio 7’s Sandra Nyaira on what he would do as the new chairman of the AU, if elected at the weekend, to further the cause of women on the continent, Mr. Mugabe said it is ideal to have women at all levels of society in decision-making positions but not easy as most women tend to drop out of politics once they start having families.
He said, “I am saying its not possible that women can be at par with men. You see we men, we want children, we make the very women we want in power, pregnant, you see, and we remain. But it’s not possible that aspect, only. We leave it to the women, if they give us the numbers, we’ll bring about the balance fine, but the treament of women generally, it’s hard. Equal pay for equal work…”
The African Union has declared 2014 the year of empowering women as this year the world marks 20 years since the Beijing Conference on women.
Meanwhile, as President Robert Mugabe is likely to assume the chairmanship of the African Union this week, questions are arising on whether he will be able to execute his mandate against the background that he is the president of a nation currently facing various challenges and his human rights record.
The AU is tackling issues like the militant Boko Haram currently terrorizing Nigerians, the Ebola crisis and attempts to improve the lives of women.
Political consultant Charles Mangongera said it does not matter if Mr. Mugabe is chairman of the AU. He believes that the question is whether the AU has proper mechanisms to deal with African issues.
“My answer to that is no, a good example is the kind of muted response that we have seen coming from the continental board on the Boko Haram crisis that we are having in Nigeria. Thousands of people have been killed, hundreds more have been abducted, young girls and young children but the response that we have seen so far from the African Union is that of ambivalence,” said Mangongera.
Mangongera said in judging Mr. Mugabe, he would not be up for the job.
Zanu PF UK province chairman, Nick Mangwana, said he agreed with Mangongera that the occupier of the office does not really matter, but the issue is of capacitating the body.
“The occupier of that office is inconsequential, institutions run Africa not an individual, he might not even recall who President Mugabe is taking over from. Over the years African chairmen have had the tendency of appointing eminent persons for each conflict point for each pressure point.,” said Mangwana.
He added, it will be the vision and direction that’s needed to chair the AU, which President Mugabe has.