Will SADC Make History By Electing A Francophone To Its Top Job?
The Southern African Development Community popularly called by its acronym SADC is a sub-regional organisation which regroups sixteen countries. Nine Anglophone countries, ( Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, , Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) two, Portuguese-speaking (Angola, Mozambique) and yes, five, francophone countries (Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles)
A Francophone still has to hold the top job of Executive Secretary of the Organisation. The elections for the seventh Executive Secretary will be held next August, and it is now down to a duel between one Anglophone candidate Elias Mpedi Magosi from Botswana and one Francophone candidate, Professor Dr. Faustin Luanga Mukela from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mr. Elias Magosi is the current Permanent Secretary to the President of Botswana. A graduate in Economics and Statistics with a post-graduate degree in Organisation and Development he has a vast experience in government, and it is without surprise that he holds the present position which makes him the Head of the Botswana Public Service. He does not seem to have any experience with international organisations apart from a one-year stint in SADC from 2017-2018. Many still remain intrigued by the choice of Mr. Magosi to want to leave a powerful job like the one he presently holds, for one in a sub-regional organisation! In view of the fact SADC is headquartered in Botswana, he will not be going anywhere, so some feel the answer to this question is blowing in the wind of the domestic politics of Botswana.
The Candidate of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Professor Faustin Luanga Mukela is an economist by training. He holds a doctorate degree from the Nagoya University of Japan which he obtained in 1994 after a Masters in International Relations, Economics and International Finance from the International in 1991. Committed to development issues for more than 25 years, Faustin Luanga Mukela is a senior official of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which he joined in 1996. Between 2001 and 2003, he had a brief stint in the office of the President of the Republic of the DRC of the at the time, Joseph Kabila, as an advisor in economic matters and development, then as administrator, with the rank of minister, of the National Program of “Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration(DDR) between 2004-2006 following the San City Peace Accords.
To his credit, he was at the base of the formulation and execution of several development programs for African countries within international bodies. This accounts for his strong links with the WTO and other institutions such as the World Bank, FAO, WHO and the ILO. Faustin Luanga Mukela is, among others, a researcher and professor of economics, finance and econometrics at the University of Nagoya in Japan, and at the International University of Geneva in Switzerland. He was one of the experts who, during the merger of President Wade’s omega plan and the African Plan for the Millennium (Map) of the group of Presidents Mbeki, Obasanjo, Mubarak and Bouteflika which gave birth to NEPAD.
The candidate of the DRC, for the post of Executive Secretary of SADC, benefits from a great experience in the management of large institutions and a good mastery of the major challenges which weigh on the member countries of the African Union, in their global and specific environment, particularly in matters of economic, social and environmental development in connection with the African Union’s 2063 agenda. The regional economic communities, like SADC, aim to facilitate regional economic integration between the members of each of the regions and within the large African Economic Community (ECA), created under the Treaty of Abuja in 1991.
Only two of the sixteen SADC member states applied to replace outgoing Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, a national of the United Republic of Tanzania, who is the sixth Executive Secretary, and the very first female Executive Secretary, of SADC, following her appointment in August 2013. So only history will tell whether we are about to witness another first, in the form of an Executive Secretary from a Francophone country.
The competition is therefore getting keener as the days trickle away. In a meeting with the President of Malawi, the President of Botswana was able to get the former to declare his support for his candidate. President, Félix Tshisekedi, the current African Union Chair believes in a more silent diplomacy which appears now to be paying off. He now travels with his candidate who is now frequently seen, to be present in his audiences with many of his colleagues in the sub-region. The election of a candidate from the country which hosts the headquarters is quite a rarity in the politics of regional organizations, this fact will seem to be at the heart of many other countries being reluctant to have the host country which already provides fifty percent of the staffing to now have the top job.
In the meantime, ahead of the summit in August, positioning negotiations are continuing, no doubt with a view to finding a compromise as is customary within SADC. Otherwise, the Heads of State will be called upon to decide between the two candidates. Which would be another first in the history of SADC.