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AU chairperson, staff at loggerheads

by Staff reporter
29 May 2020 at 08:16hrs | Views
AFRICAN Union staffers have demanded that an ongoing institutional reform process be "transparent, humane and fair" in the wake of accusations that AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat treats the secretariat as if it were his personal fiefdom, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.

The damning accusations against Faki, which range from nepotism to corruption, surfaced following a leaked internal memorandum dated March 6, undersigned by the head of the AU Staff Association, Sabelo Mbokazi.

Prior to Mbokazi's memorandum, the AU Staff Association had held a meeting on February 28 to discuss the long-standing grievances around the working conditions at the AU Commission.

Mbokazi this week declined to confirm whether he wrote the March 6 memorandum, but indicated that a report outlining a litany of grievances was addressed to Faki.

The explosive March 6 memorandum accused Faki and his inner circle of running down the AU Commission through corruption, nepotism and favouritism and a total disregard for the rules.

The memorandum, gleaned by South African newspaper Mail & Guardian, also accused Faki of handpicking his associates for influential positions in the commission, which functions as the AU secretariat. Specifically, it highlighted that the recent appointment of Hamza Sahal as head of human resources management was irregular.

The memo reads: "With you sitting at the helm of this organisation, the rules have been indiscriminately flouted and chaos prevails both at the headquarters and regional offices. The staff indicated that the moral fibre has decayed under your watch."

An AU Commission staffer, who spoke to the Independent on condition of anonymity, said "there was lingering fear that a number of people could be victimised as part of the ongoing reform process".

The source added that the reform process should be "transparent and not be used as a witch-hunting exercise to settle personal scores."

"It's a process of how the changes are being discussed. It should be transparent. The process should be humane and inclusive. It is about human relationships, there are fears that people will be victimised. Staffers are not happy about how the process is being handled.

"The report (Mbokazi's memorandum) was meant for AU policy organs. It was mainly centred on the need to foster transparency in the manner in which the reform process is being handled," the source told the Independent this week.

Contacted for comment on how the AU Commission's reform process is being handled, AU head of communication Wynne Musabayana said the institution is undergoing a "transformation programme".

"I invite you to consult our website on the institutional transformation programme. It provides the most recent information on the reform of the AU," Musabayana said.

She declined to comment further on the allegations of corruption, nepotism and sexual harassment contained in the leaked memo.

In 2016, the AU embarked on a transformational programme that entailed implementing sweeping reforms meant to reposition the continental bloc towards achieving "Africa's Agenda 2063 vision of inclusive economic growth and development".

As part of the reform process, the continental bloc noted that the AU was highly fragmented, with too many focus areas; the institution's complicated structure and limited managerial capacity lead to inefficient working methods, poor decision-making and a lack of accountability.

The AU also observed that the institution was neither financially independent nor self-sustaining, relying instead on partner funding for much of its financing.

To address the identified challenges, the AU, among other measures, resolved to focus on fewer priority areas with continental scope, review the structure and operations of the AU and ensure institutional realignment for better service delivery. It also resolved "to connect with the African citizenry" as well as reduce over-reliance on donors.

In 2018, a panel of inquiry was set up by the AU to investigate allegations of rampant sexual allegations which implicated 40 officials.

Source - the independent

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