African leaders have adopted key reforms in the African Union Commission to streamline its operations.
On November 17, leaders attending the 11th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Summit, focusing on institutional reform of the continental body held in Addis Ababa, adopted reforms touching on the structure and portfolios of the senior leadership of the AUC. The changes take effect February next year.
The meeting agreed that the new AUC will be composed of eight members — the chairperson, deputy chairperson and six Commissioners.
This will now see the portfolio of the Commission expanded to include Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment; Economic Development, Trade and Industry and Mining; Education, Science, Technology and Innovation; Infrastructure and Energy; Political Affairs, Peace and Security; Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development.
The leaders also adopted are solution that will see the new structure and portfolios of the senior leadership of the Commission come into effect at the end of the current tenure of the Commission in 2021.
“The purpose of this Summit was to advance the institutional reform of our Union. Events on our continent and across the world continue to confirm the urgency and necessity of this project. The goal is simple: To make Africa stronger and give our people the future they deserve.
“The reforms will make the Commission effective and performance-based, now and in the future,” said President Paul Kagame, Chairperson of the African Union.
The Summit decided that the selection process of the senior leadership of the Commission shall be guided by equitable regional representation and gender parity; predictable inter and intra-regional rotation following the English alphabetical order to be applied to each senior leadership position; attracting and retaining Africa’s top talent; accountable and effective leadership and management; transparent and merit-based selection.
It was also agreed that the principle of rotational gender parity shall be applied to the posts of chairperson and deputy chairperson; ensuring that if the chairperson is male then the deputy chairperson shall be a female and vice versa.
Equally, the six commissioner level posts shall be equally distributed by gender and across the three regions that are not represented at chairperson and deputy chairperson level, while the regions with candidates that are elected to the position of the chairperson or the deputy chairperson shall not be eligible for consideration for the six remaining commissioner posts.
The assembly established a Panel of Eminent Africans, composed of five, one per region, to oversee the pre-selection of candidate for the senior leadership of the Commission.
This panel shall allow be responsible for the skills and competency based assessment and shortlisting of the Commission candidates, assisted by an independent African firm so as to generate a ranked pool of pre-qualified candidates nominated by the relevant AU regions from which commissioners shall be elected and appointed by the Executive Council.
On the election of the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the AU Commission, the Assembly decided to Amend Rule 38 of the AU Assembly, leaving the election of the commission’s chairperson and deputy to be conducted by secret ballot and a two-thirds majority of member states eligible to vote.