AU Commission chair, former diplomat fight rages

1A arikana chihombori quao
1A arikana chihombori quao

Sydney Kawadza

Former African Union permanent representative to the United States Arikana Chihombori-Quao has come out guns blazing accusing AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat of destroying the organisation’s reputation while engaging in petty politicking.

Faki Muhamati’s spokesperson Ebba Kalondo recently released a communique accusing Chihombo-Quao of being behind a misleading campaign on different media outlets regarding the circumstances of the end of her tenure.

She said Chihombori Quao’s tenure ended in line with the terms and conditions governing her contract of appointment, after serving for three years.

Kalondo said a team was deployed to the Washington DC office to carry out a supervisory audit of its activities, facilitate the separation and the handover processes against the mandate of the Office and the approved programme activities.

“During this mission, the team found evidence, corroborated by Dr Quao that she initiated and implemented with AU funds, activities of the entities that have no AUC formal approval or legal link to the African Union,” she said.

These entities included Africa Union-Africa Diaspora Health Initiative, African Electoral Integrity Initiative Inc., Miss African Union pageant, African Union Trading Company LLC, Wakanda One Village Project Initiative, African Diaspora Global Fund and the African Diaspora Federal Credit Union.

Other initiatives included African Diaspora Youth Leaders’ Summit, Pan African Diaspora Women’s Association, Pan African Men’s Association, Pan African Diaspora Youth Association and the African Diaspora Retreat.

“The team found that the above entities, initiatives, associations and/or corporates have conducted the following without prior knowledge or consent and against the rules of the African Union,” she said.

The allegations included the illegal use of the African Union logo, abusing the AU name, presenting themselves as official AU programmes or organs, registering the official physical address of the AU Mission in Washington DC as their legal and financial domicilium and receiving funds in the name of the AU.

The AU further alleged that some of these entities were illegally registered to the USA Internal Revenue Services with diplomatic tax certificates applied for by Chihombori-Quao, collected donations from private sector entities and companies like Chevron Oil Company while donations and funds were allegedly collected in the name of the AU with no evidence that any amount collected were deposited in AU accounts.

However, in a rare and exclusive interview with The Anchor from her Washington DC base, Chihombori-Quao described the allegations as “baseless and malicious”.

The Zimbabwe-born medical doctor and diplomat accusing Faki Muhamat of diverting from his mandate to spearhead the development of Africa.

“The fight is a sideshow and many within the African Union Commission agree have confessed that efforts being made to tarnish my image have nothing to do with the AU commission’s mandate.

“The chairman has actually failed in delivering his mandate while pushing his fight against me. All the allegations they have levelled against me are nonsensical,” she said.

Chihombori-Quao said she had, during her tenure at the AU mission in Washington DC, revived the office which had been virtually deserted save for skeleton staff.

“I have received several plaudits for re-invigorating and re-energising the mission which was manned, for years, by junior staff but what do I get from the commission chair? Insults and fabricated allegations?”

She said the initiatives she introduced in the US provided a platform for the Disapora to engage in dialogue and discuss how they can contribute to Africa’s development.

“These served their purposes with many in the Diaspora acknowledging their importance as a way of engaging the community to participate in the continent’s development,” she said.

She also dismissed allegations that funds received from Chevron was abused adding that all donations made to the AU had been forwarded to headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Chihombori-Quoa said there was no need for Faki Mahamat to pursue his political shenanigans while millions of Africans were suffering.

“There are millions of women dying during home childbirths, there are millions of Africans who have no access to basic healthcare, there are millions of youths who are unemployed but we are engaged in malicious battles that are not in the AU mandate,” she said.

The diplomat was dismissed in October this year leading to an outcry from the Diaspora community which initiated several petitions against the move.

The latest petition calling for an end to Chihombori-Quoa’s “persecution” while calling for Faki Mahamat’s overthrow was launched early this month.

Independent observers have linked the latest outbursts from the AU commission’s office to the newly launched campaign.

Chihombori-Quao has not pulled any punches against the colonial legacy which blamed for some of Africa’s problems while the AU commission continues to refute claims that her tenure ended due to her opinions.

The AU Commission also reiterated that Chihombori-Quoa maintained a public presence freely without fear or prejudice to voice her opinions through AU channels although most of these have been deleted from the union’s websites.

Chihombori-Quoa was appointed as the AU’s top diplomat by former commission chairperson Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma’s tenure but has had a tumultuous relationship with Faki Mahamat.

The stand-off which is slowly playing out into the public sphere has also been blamed on the uneasy relationships between Anglophone and Francophone countries in Africa.

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