Neither the outgoing African Union Commission (AU) chief Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma of South Africa, nor the leading candidate to replace her Amina Mohamed commented on Algeria’s callous mass and summary deportation of African migrants to Niger.

On the other hand, Western Human rights organizations and international media strongly denounced Algeria’s “witch hunt” of thousands of defenseless black Africans who were rounded up and deported under merciless conditions.


It is evident that Ms. Mohamed, who is running for position of AU Commission chairperson, is turning a blind eye to Algeria’s ill treatments of sub-Saharan Africans in exchange for Algeria’s support. The Kenyan inaction ought to give African nations a pause to think about the nature and the ambitions of her candidacy.


Dhlamini-Zuma has made the AU inapt and irrelevant to Africans. Unfortunately, the Pan-African organization will remain as immaterial to world affairs under Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Mohamed, if elected.


Both South Africa and Kenya’s silence in the face of Algeria’s clear violation of African migrants’ human and civil rights is yet another proof that both nations are after the AU leadership for self-serving reasons and not to advance and better the lives of impoverished Africans.


Where was Kenya and South Africa’s outrage when an Algerian official repeatedly accused Sub-Saharan Africans of spreading AIDS and disease in Algeria?


On at least two occasions, Mr. Farouk Ksentini, the head of Algeria’s National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, stated that “presence of migrants and refugees in several regions of the country can lead to many problems for Algerians, and that these migrants don’t have a future in Algeria.”  Furthermore, Mr. Ksentini added, “AIDS” and other “foreign diseases” are routine in these communities.”


In fact, all candidates running for the AU commission’s top job should have decried these racist statements coming from an Algerian governmental official. However, no one dared to stand up to Algeria, which Dhlamini-Zuma and her cronies have shielded from criticism for last 4 years.


Kenya’s Amina Mohamed muteness is more worrisome because of her recent visit to Algeria where she openly and publicly called for the respect of the rights of the Sahrawi people to self-determination. Ms. Mohamed political opportunism and diplomatic unscrupulousness displayed during her visit to Tindouf are signs that she is not suitable as AU Commission chairperson.


In a rebuke to Algeria’s propaganda about African unity and cooperation, the Algerian security forces rounded up hundreds of black Africans who are “illegally” in the country, warehoused them in deplorable conditions, and then forcibly bused them to Niger where they have been living under harsh conditions.


While Dhlamini-Zuma and Mohamed remained silent, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a strongly worded statement calling on the Algerians to halt the summary deportations of sub-Saharan migrants.  Sarah Leah Whitson, director for Middle East and North Africa at HRW, reminded the Algerians that “The right of a country to control its borders is not a license for lawlessness.”


In the face of the AU disinterest in the plight of African women and children dumped in the Nigerian desert, HRW and other human rights organizations around the world took up the defense of this vulnerable group of people. HRW warned Algiers that “a mass and summary deportation of migrants, including men and women who may have fled persecution or have worked for years in Algeria, would violate their rights.”


More shameful than Dhlamini-Zuma and Mohamed’s indifference is their apathy to news reports, and as described by HRW, that the “[Algerian] Authorities took the sub-Saharan migrants into custody at their homes and workplaces and first bused migrants to a facility in Zeralda, a suburb of the capital. On December 2, the authorities forced some of the migrants into a first convoy of buses heading toward Tamanrasset, 1,900 kilometers south.”


HRW cited Thierry, from Cameroon, who said that “the vans transported them to Zeralda, where he discovered hundreds of others, all of whom appeared to be sub-Saharan Africans. Some were sleeping on the ground, as there were no mattresses. He said that gendarmes took their belongings when they arrived. When Thierry asked the commander to return them, the commander replied, “This stuff belongs to Algeria. You did not come from your countries with all of these things, and so they have to remain in Algeria.”


Once again, the AU has let down Africa for the sake of empty ideology and the self-promotion of discredited African leaders.  Mohamed’s November visit to Algeria and her comments regarding the Western Sahara conflict are signs that the Kenyan will follow the failed and disastrous policies of her South African predecessor. If ever elected as the new AU Commission chair, Mohamed will offer an ailing Africa a new four disastrous years of more poverty, conflicts, and divisions.

By Hassan Masiky.