Uganda’s Pamela Mbabazi eyes top African Union job

Prof. Pamela Mbabazi. Photo/Courtesy
By :
Kirunda Dan

Kampala, UGANDA – Prof. Pamela Kasabiiti Mbabazi is one of eight people who have been nominated to contest as Vice Chairperson in next week’s African Union Commission (AUC) elections due in Addis Ababa.

Mbabazi, 51, currently serving as chairperson of the National Planning Authority, is the only candidate from Uganda contesting in next week’s polls.

“I intend to lead policies that harness Africa’s youthful population. Africa is gifted with a youthful population that should be optimized to create the desired demographic dividends for the continent. This is one of my key motivations for my candidature,” Prof Mbabazi is quoted to have said recently.

These are the first AUC elections since the African Union’s reform process began in 2017 under the guidance of Rwanda President Paul Kagame’s executive.

According to a brief by ECDPM on the race for the African Union top posts, the new AU Commission (AUC) structure is to be composed of eight members that will include; the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and six Commissioners. The six commissioner posts will be equally distributed by gender across the three regions that are not represented at Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson level.

The new rules require that if the AUC Chairperson is a man, his Deputy should be a woman – and vice-versa. Most of the candidates for the role of Deputy AU commissioner are women (five out of eight) but, to date, no woman has held this role.

Africa Tembelea has since learnt that Uganda’s trailblazing Prof. Mbabazi will contest against three men and four women. The women are Fatoumata C.M. JallowTambajang, the former vice president of the Gambia, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa from Rwanda who is the deputy governor of the national bank of Rwanda; Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, a Ghanian diplomat; and Hasna Barkat Daoud, a Djiboutian lawyer and former government minister.

The incumbent Commission’s Chairperson, H.E. Faki Mahamat, is also up for re-election, although Africa Tembelea understands that this is not an automatic guarantee: he will need no less than 37 of the 55 Heads of State who will be voting on February 6th.

– Uganda’s Prof Mbabazi –

Trailblazing Prof. Pamela Mbabazi currently serves as Executive Chair, National Planning Authority of the Government of the Republic of Uganda. Previously, Prof. Mbabazi served as Head of Research for the GIZ supported Africa Peace and Security Program at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University.

Mbabazi has also served as the Dean of Development Studies at Mbarara University (1998–2010), where she established the Faculty of Development Studies, which was transformed into an Institute. She moved up the ranks to become the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Mbarara University (2010–2015), where she served her term for five years.

Prof. Mbabazi has served on several boards, including the African Research and Resource Centre, the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy, and the National Council for Science and Technology in Uganda, among others. Mbabazi is a former Fulbright African Scholar, having spent time at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced and International Studies in Washington, DC, in 2006, doing research and writing on the topic of Developmental States in Africa.

She also was the Claude Ake Visiting Professor at the Nordic Africa Institute in 2013 and was a Visiting Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Leeds in 2012, conducting research and writing on the topics of oil governance and land governance, respectively.

Her current areas of research include the changing nature and character of the state in Africa, the political economy of oil, peace-building, and land governance in Africa. Some of her co-authored publications include; ‘Winners and losers: Contestation over land in the advent of oil exploration in Uganda’ in Hany Gamil Besada (eds) Governing Natural Resources for Africa’s Development, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, London (2017) as well as ‘Land Deals in Uganda: An Invisible Hand in Land Grabbing and Rural Development’.

Prof Mbabazi has also co-edited a book with Prof. Ian Taylor on ‘The Potentiality of Developmental States in Africa (2005)’ among other publications that include; ’The Emerging Oil Industry in Uganda: A Blessing or a Curse?’ (2012); and ’Women Have Always Had Their Special Place in History as Peace Makers: Women and Peace-building in the Great Lakes Region’ (2015).

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