Zim crisis could blight Makoni’s chances

Godfrey Marawanyika

THE diplomatic stand-off between Zimbabwe, the European Union and the United States could affect Dr Simba Makoni’s bid for the powerful post of president of the African Development

Bank.


Makoni is the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) candidate for the post.


Makoni is facing stiff challenge from current ADB vice-president Bisi Ogunjobi, backed by five nations — Ghana, Egypt, Gabon, Rwanda and Cameroon, in the May election.


Ogunjobi was last week in the country on a tour of Sadc where he is understood to have been lobbying for support.


Before his appointment to the ADB, Ogunjobi, who has more than two decades in banking, worked for the Zimbabwe Development Bank for seven years.


Makoni was once Zimbabwe’s Finance minister and was the first executive secretary of Sadc.


During his visit, the Nigerian met central bank governor Gideon Gono.

Officials privy to the goings-on at the ADB noted that although Makoni had strong credentials for the post, there were concerns from both the EU and the US on the way Sadc had failed to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis when compared to the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas)’s handling of the Togolese crisis.


Both the EU and the US finance the ADB to an extent.


Earlier this year, Ecowas managed to fend off a diplomatic and political impasse when it refused to recognise the son of the late Togolese president Faure Gnassingbe as its leader.


Gnassingbe had been imposed by the army following his father’s death.

Ecowas is a regional group of 16 countries founded in 1975 to foster economic integration in West Africa.


According to Ecowas’ profile, there were 16 nations in the group until recently when Mauritania withdrew its membership.


The organisation says its main objective is to achieve economic integration and form a unified economic zone in West Africa.


Its scope was broadened later to include socio-political interaction and mutual development in related spheres.


Ogunjobi acknowledged that he would be facing stiff competition from the other aspiring candidates — including Makoni.


“Yes, there will be competition but I know that I will bring wonders to Zimbabwe for both government and the private sector,” he said.


“This is not a question between Makoni and me.”

Relations between Harare and the West have hit their lowest ebb since the disputed presidential election of 2002, which resulted in President Robert Mugabe retaining power.


Since then, Mugabe and senior members of his party have been slapped with travel restrictions and targeted sanctions by the EU and the US.


However, Mugabe argues that the targeted sanctions have seriously affected the country’s economic performance and denies rigging his way back into power.


Makoni could not be reached for comment this week, but the League of Arab States is expected to endorse Makoni as the candidate for the ADB post.

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