•Appointment of new Legal Counsel raises eyebrows

Botswana Guardian recently unmasked the widespread corruption, mismanagements of resources, workers’ rights violations and other irregularities that have become the norm in the African Union headquarters and many of its institutions and bodies.

Reading through some reliable documents seen by this publication, few concrete cases arise showcasing a blatant misuse of power by AUC officials, especially in rejecting shortlisted and able African experts (or even excluding them from shortlists despite qualifications), only to recruit and appoint less qualified ones.

In the present case the AUC Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, appointed a less qualified candidate to the post of the AUC Legal Counsel, although his recruitment process seems to have been far from transparent and rigorous as it should.

The concerned national from Burundi, has apparently exaggerated and even lied about his work experience and responsibilities when submitting his candidature to the post, including in relation to the period he worked as a short-term and junior legal officer in the Commission.

He pretended to have assumed high level responsibilities in the Commission just to give the impression that he has the requisite 15 years’ managerial experience the post of Legal Counsel requires, which is absolutely not the case according to his operational records that Botswana Guardian was able to check.

He further gave wrong information about his work experience in Academia in France, and claimed to have assumed lecturer’s responsibilities in some French Faculties of Law. Yet, after his claims have been compared to the annual online records available in the said universities, it was obvious that he has never assumed those tasks, and was just a PHD student during the period he pretended to have held professional duties.

But the issue here is not only about his behaviour, nor is it about his daring to falsify information to deceive the continental organisation to be appointed in one of the most important and crucial positions in the whole system, as Legal Counsel.

The real danger is about the support and protection he seems to be enjoying from some higher officials in the Commission, who know him very well, since he worked for years in the AUC under short-term contracts or in a junior legal position until very recently.

These officials know this fact very well, since every single AUC staff in Addis Ababa knows his trajectory and competences. Worse still, there are strong indications that he enjoyed some extraordinary measures taken by these officials, or employees who have access to the recruiting system, who violated the AUC rules by re-opening the shortlisting procedures several days after the deadline, just to favour the candidacy of the concerned and allow him to change the data already saved in his profile with falsehoods.

In the meantime, many far experienced and qualified candidates were simply excluded or not even shortlisted, including a Professor in International Law, who is currently Chairing the United Nations International Law Commission!

The professor’s exclusion pushed many to ask, how can this expert be qualified by the UN to assume his current post, and strangely eliminated from the candidates’ shortlist at the AUC? This can only mean that there is another agenda that is motivating the choice of the high official or group of high officials behind this anomaly.

But it certainly is not an agenda that cares about the rule of law, integrity, professionalism or even Pan African values that should reign in the continental organisation. Botswana Guardian also had access to a letter sent by three high profile candidates that were excluded in which they call on the Chairperson of the AUC to immediately intervene to put an end to this masquerade, by revoking the appointment of this officer, who is not only unqualified, but basically a fraud whose behaviour and lack of integrity will be an unprecedented blow to the credibility of the AU legal services, and an even stronger blow to the credibility of the AUC high officials in general.

The allegations raised against the appointment of the new Legal Counsel, must push the decision-makers in the AUC and any other relevant authority, to thoroughly investigate these claims, especially that solid proofs and arguments were clearly expressed by Legal Experts, who also promised to take the case and the Union to Court if no action is taken to correct this misconduct.

In fact, cancelling the appointment if the allegations are correct should not be enough, an investigation should also be made to unmask the official or officials who supported and pushed towards the appointment of this person despite the fact that everyone seems to know well that he is not qualified!