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Sakala bows out, thanks Sadc for oneness

Thomas Zondo Sakala, the Sadc losing presidential candidate for the African Development Bank (AfDB) says he will take some rest to plot his future after support from the bloc could not land him the top job.

BY NDAMU SANDU IN ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast

Nigerian Agriculture minister Akinwumi Adesina ran away with the presidency in a gruelling contest in which Sakala was eliminated in the fifth round.

“I am a retired gentleman, I had left Abidjan [AfDB headquarters]. I will take some time to rest and look at my options in the coming future,” he told Standardbusiness last week.

Sakala resigned as AfDB vice-president, Country and Regional Programmes last year to campaign for the top post. He was backed by Sadc.

He paid tribute to Sadc for staying together for a good cause.

“When they [Sadc] decided to move for another candidate, they moved together as a group and this helped to conclude the elections,” he said.

“The position taken by Sadc reinforces the African character of the bank. They moved to a candidate who was enjoying African support.”

Sakala said he was looking forward to the new president to take the institution to a new level, making it relevant to member states.

Thursday’s election will be remembered for the way Sadc determined the outcome following the elimination of Sakala.

When Sakala was eliminated, the Sadc bloc caucused and agreed to vote for Adesina. Lusophone countries in the region — Angola and Mozambique — had been asked to vote for Cape Verdean candidate Cristina Duarte in the event that Sadc’s candidate was eliminated but stuck with the bloc’s decision.

The move by Sadc, Sakala said, showed the togetherness of the bloc and should be replicated in other fora to strengthen the position and interests of the region.

Sadc ministers told Standardbusiness that the bloc had not lost the battle but determined the destination for the presidency.
Sadc is understood to have secured a commitment that it would get one of the senior positions in the bank.

“Do you think we just supported blindly Nigeria’s cause? We didn’t want the voting to be adjourned to a later date and that would have weakened our position. I can assure you that our support will bring benefits,” said a regional minister.

To win the presidency, a candidate required double majority: at least 50,01% of the total votes and 50,01% of the African votes. After five rounds of voting, no candidate had achieved that feat amid fears that the voting would have to be adjourned as per AfDB’s regulations governing the election of a president.

Article 11 empowered the Board of Governors to decide whether or not to proceed with the voting if, after five ballots no candidate had obtained the requisite double majority vote.

This would have meant the adjournment of the election to a later date and the appointment of an acting president for the bank.

“The region found this option unpalatable, hence the decision to have the elections concluded by supporting Adesina maintaining the togetherness in Sadc,” one minister said.

“In the end both US and UK, who had been supporting Cape Verde, jumped ship to Nigeria when it was clear that Sadc’s vote would ensure double majority for Adesina,” another Sadc minister said.

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