New Era: Trump Presidency and the new Chairperson of the Commission of the AU

Vernon J Mwaanga: File picture

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America and his inauguration on 20th January, 2017 as the 45th President, has sent nervous shock waves to friends, foes and around the world.

His unguarded utterances on issues such as immigration, muslims, free trade, refugees, the electoral system in America, Women, NATO, the UN, Russia, China, Taiwan, building a wall on the border with Mexico, persons living with disabilities, freedom of the press, enhanced interrogation (a long hand for torture), America first, the environment and climate change, among others, sent chills, not just in sections of American society, but to the world. Within a few hours of his Presidency, there were a number of controversial executive orders signed, which were consistent  with his campaign promises, such as withdrawing his country from the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty, travel restrictions on nationals of certain  muslim countries from entering the United States of America including holders of green cards who had left the country and could not re-enter, as well as students studying in America who had gone to their respective countries during the festive season. This led to massive demonstrations in more than American 30 cities, by people who felt that Trump was taking the country in the wrong direction.

Both Republican and Democratic law makers voiced concerns about some of these executive orders which they described as “un-American” and a violation of the first amendment of the American constitution which guarantees freedom of religion.

Some of these executive orders are being challenged in US the congress by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. It is clear that the election of the unorthodox and unpredictable Trump from outside the main stream of the political establishment, will dramatically change American’s role and  image in the world .His administrations is likely to be nationalistic and inward looking at a time when the world is moving in the direction of globalization and multilateralism. At a time when many countries are breaking down barriers to allow free movement of people and goods Trump wants to build a wall to keep America safe and by putting America first and advancing a conservative inward looking agenda, the impact in Europe is already being felt and could affect election outcomes.

Although Trump’s Africa policy still remains unclear, some of the statements he made in the past about Africa and some of its leaders are sufficiently  indicative enough and Africa has no reason to feel comfortable with Trump  and his administration which comprises ministers with very little or no government experience and have mainly come from corporate America. He is the only American President who regularly takes to twitter to express views which have not been vetted by the bureaucracy to make sure that they are in line with the official position of this government. In the art of statecraft as opposed to corporatecraft, where he was used to making decisions alone, decisions and pronouncements he makes as President either through press interviews or twitter, could amount to own goals and have to be done collectively with other arms of government, to make sure that they are consistent with government policy. Twitter diplomacy by a President, let alone, the President the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world, is extremely risky and dangerous.

The world is at risk of a new form of nationalism, which will negatively affect the movement towards globalization. Africa has now elected the foreign minister of Chad Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat as the new Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union to replace Dr Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa, whose tenure of office had to be extended by six months, because African leaders failed to elect her successor when they last met in Kigali, Rwanda. The challenges facing the new Chairperson are daunting and they include industrializing our continent, peace building, less dependence on outside charity, strengthening African governance institutions, improving human rights, strengthening and consolidating democracy, cooperating in the fight against international and domestic terrorism, increasing GDP growth, raising living standards of the African people, improving health care. Food security, infrastructure development among others. African countries should support the new team by paying their contributions to the African Union secretariat and depend less on the outside world.

Dr. Vernon J Mwaanga

About Dr. Vernon J Mwaanga

Dr. Vernon J Mwaanga is an accomplished diplomat who served as Ambassador of Zambia to Russia and as Zambia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He served twice as Foreign Affairs minister and four times as Information and Broadcasting Minister under various regimes.

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