Kenya and Zimbabwe Forge Mutual Support Pact: AU Candidacy and Sanction Removal

April 30, 2024
Zimbabwe Backs Raila's African Union AU Commission BidPresident William Ruto has secured Zimbabwes support for Raila Odingas bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship | Report Focus News
Zimbabwe Backs Raila's African Union (AU) Commission BidPresident William Ruto has secured Zimbabwe’s support for Raila Odinga’s bid for the African Union Commission chairmanship.

Kenya and Zimbabwe are forging a mutual support pact: Zimbabwe pledges to aid Kenya in its bid for the AU Commission chair while Kenya vows to assist Zimbabwe in combating “illegal” sanctions. During the opening of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair by William Ruto on Saturday, Kenya affirmed its backing for veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga’s candidacy for the African Union Commission chair next year. In exchange, Zimbabwe will champion Nairobi’s quest for Odinga’s election and receive unwavering support for its Commonwealth readmission.

This agreement stemmed from discussions between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Kenyan counterpart, William Ruto, over the weekend in Bulawayo. Ruto, at Mnangagwa’s invitation, inaugurated Zimbabwe’s premier trade showcase, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. The Kenyan presidency issued a statement emphasizing the countries’ commitment to supporting each other’s interests.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila OdingaSimon Maina | Report Focus News
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga Picture by Simon Maina

“I am assured that Kenya and Zimbabwe will persist in conferring and backing each other on multitude issues of bilateral, regional, and continental significance alongside the African Union Agenda 2063,” Ruto stated. “Based on this, I wish to declare Kenya’s unreserved support for Zimbabwe’s readmission to the Commonwealth, and for the African Union’s call for the immediate lifting of all illegal sanctions against the Republic of Zimbabwe.”

With the AU Commission chairmanship set to become vacant at the end of former Chadian prime minister Moussa Faki Mahamat’s term, East Africa is poised to contend for the position. Odinga will face competition from Djibouti’s foreign minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf.

While trade between Zimbabwe and Kenya remains relatively insignificant, Zimbabwe’s main exports to Kenya include raw tobacco, raw sugar, and corn. Zimbabwe’s exports to Kenya have shown a steady increase over the past 27 years, reaching $12.6 million in 2022. In return, Kenya exported goods such as paper, metal stoppers, and margarine worth $26.6 million in 2022.

Ahead of Ruto’s visit, the two countries held the Fourth Session of the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation, spanning three days. During this session, representatives from both nations signed agreements covering various sectors including defence, science research, education, transport, healthcare, agriculture, livestock, and capacity development in human capital for public service and government.