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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Speculation on Dr Migiro`s ending of UN tenure

31st March 2012
Ex-Foreign Minister Dr Asharose Migiro

Plenty is being talked around the East African Community zone concerning the termination or ending of UN administrative functions for ex-Foreign Minister Dr Asharose Migiro, some if it – perhaps the predominant part – a bit funny.

It says that Dr Migiro made furious lobbying to continue in the post, as it is usually renewable after the first four year stint, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid no attention.

In addition, this line of speculation looks at the appointment of veteran UN mediator and Swedish foreign minister Dr Jan Eliasson for the post as further proof of how hopeless the case for the Tanzanian administrator would have been – instead, in effect, that it demonstrates the very opposite.

The latter point is especially significant because it serves as a

model of the psychology behind the speculation, to indicate the sort of judgment a blogger (or columnist) makes at least out of that

singular fact. Now that we can also participate in being aware of the background fact, it becomes easier to evaluate the sentiment expressed concerning that fact, whereas it would be more difficult to explain or otherwise arrive at a credible evaluation of his (or her) sentiments about an event, for that it a bit wide. In sum, if the replacement of Dr Migiro is a 72 year old veteran UN mediator, does that suggest that the former holder of the job was a good pick or possibly negative, and if negative, what thus was the error?

This kind of guesswork is almost an exercise in elementary logic, for instance the propostion that “if Ban Ki-moon has chosen a 72 year old serving foreign minister with UN background, then Dr Migiro wasn't the right candidate because she had no UN background.”

That as usual looks logical, until we recall that Ban Ki-moon was fully aware of the candidate's background in selecting her for the job. Nor is an additional reflection that the secretary general doesn't want a woman for the post helpful, as it fails to explain why he accepted or opted for a woman in the first place; that also covers the age aspect, as Dr Migiro would be much older at the moment and experienced in UN business like virtually anyone else.

If anything, logically speaking there is a unity rather than a contrast in the selection or nomination made by Ban Ki-moon in his choice of Dr Jan Eliasson for the post, in like manner as in the

previous nomination of Dr Migiro, and which tallies with UN testimony following her appointment. The point is that the secretary general has standards he observes, now that he is a mature person and former foreign minister of South Korea, which means he can't make silly mistakes of pleasing a women lobby, picking Dr Migiro more or less because she is a woman, and an African.

This is a perceptible underlying psyche in the supposition of a 'vast contrast' between the cuirrent nomination for the UN post, and the earlier.

Dr Ban Ki-moon would be the first to reject that supposition, as the issue was put to the UN Secretariat in the months following Dr Migiro's appointment, and a UN official said that the secretary

general had sought a serving foreign minister, without reference to race or gender. The only collective category to which Dr Migiro belonged at the time of her nomination was being a foreign minister, and for the rest the competition was intense and she won, on the basis of what the UN official said. The UN spokesman had made it clear, and not just as an interpretation of his remarks, that gender was not part of the matter.

Instead of the gender comparison which was not there in the first place, the logical outlook that arises from the choice is that, assuming Ban Ki-moon, who was elected by the UN Security Council to the post at the age of 63 hasn't been learning so much himself, is that there is a continuity of standards. It would mean that the secretary general hasn't himself changed much in the standards he

seeks – which is acceptable as a working hypothesis simply because of his age; the idea that four years into the job, now at the age of 67 he should find that women can't be trusted is out of place. Nor is the idea that Africans as such can't be trusted, unless one has forgotten Kofi Annan and indeed the credentials of Jan Eliasson.

One of his most notable achievements or roles in the UN context and in his diplomatic work generally is that he was a special envoy of the UN to the troubled Darfur region of the Sudan in the past few years, apart from having been president of the General Assembly for one year.

From the latter post it can be expected he has met many people and can find his way easily with African and other poor countries, but from the Darfur stint as mediator, it means he is conversant with Africa.

It underlined a little-spoken aspect of the 'priorities' of the secretary general, that it is possible or likely that Africa is high up on his list of areas where he would wish to do something; does he have to shout his 'negritude'?

When it comes to the question of age, that perhaps Dr Migiro was a bit young for the post, that can in any case be debated, as it hurts on the datum that the secretary general knew of her age, not as too youthful but probably as settled psychologically and still energetic.

In that case the higher age of Dr Eliasson is a plus for Dr Migiro, that while in her case the secretary general trusted that she could do the work, in seeking for a replacement he took no risks with age, and sought out the most experienced friend of Africa that the UN system, that is permanent representatives or foreign ministers, could boast. It shows not that Dr Migiro was a problem but rather the opposite, that replacing her proved difficult.

Now for the question of the 'furious lobhying' that apparently Dr Migiro made so as to remain on the post but failed, that this aspect of issues is wishful thinking, bespeaking of a mind that is 'carnal'

in character, not the usual sex interpretation but 'mammon.' Since the one who makes the gossip can't quite figure out how one willingly walks out of a job that pays more than any foreign minister in Africa and indeed around the world, he comes to the conclusion that if she is leaving, it is due to failure to retain her job. In this specific aspect, the Tanzanian or East African outlook (indeed, the 'negritude') in that person is demonstrated, that there are few things which matter in life other than a monthly cheque.

What is also demonstrated by this reflection is that the author trusts or othrwise is convinced that the former deputy secretary generally was happy and totally at peace with her work, and the news of her

imminent departure came as a shock – a gratuitous suggestion. To then move from that hypothesis and come to the exciting conclusion that she lobbied 'furiously' according to one pundit is unavoidable, for that is precisely what he would himself have done – and believes there is, in him, the same spirit as Dr Migiro, which is where he goes wrong. As noted earlier, Dr Migiro isn't as animated or motivated by cash as East African newspaper columnists are likely to be, and chances are also that she wasn't happy.

As far as anyone has told the media, the family of Dr Migiro remained quite at ease in Dar es Salaam or if they are scattered in some parts around the world, but the husband, environmental engineer Prof. Cleophas Migiro, certainly did not leave his multiple responsibilities at the University of Dar es Salaam and elsewhere for a consort role at the UN vicinities.

That means there is a limit to which this waiting for a change of air can be endured, and it is quite easy to grasp that it is also possible that Dr Migiro was a bit home sick. It may not in itself be a sufficient reason to leave, at least by way of hypothesis.

What could ignite a feeling of not being relevant in the situation could be elsewhere, namely in the sort of plans or programs that the UN Secretariat, or specifically Mr Ban, was pursuing or has indicated he wishes to pursue, and if Dr Migiro squarely fits into those plans.

It is on this aspect specifically that local and East African commentators seemed to singularly miss the point, and look for it in personal failings or incompetence – as usually that is what we think of someone once he leaves a position, not a clash of perspectives, as we believe all of us are mercenaries, we all say 'yes sir' in anticipation of the hallowed monthly cheque. It is to suggest that we are all corrupt, and we never differ on principles.

Discounting this hypothesis, and looking a bit closely at some activities that the secretary general has enterprised in the past few months, since it wa announced that Dr Migiro would be leaving, one starts getting and idea what the problem might be, if one was needed.

In the week or so following reports of her imminent departure, Secretary General Ban made a personal appearance at a summit meeting of  the African Union in Addis Ababa, to lay accent to 'gay rights are human rights' cardinal principle of all  relativists and liberals around the world, that is, in ethical terms.

It is easy to figure out that this address took sometime to prepare and belongs to a wider thrust of the work of the Secretariat in the next four years, which unavoidably helps one to grasp why Dr Migiro didn't want to be identified with that thrust.

Chances that a 72 year old Swedish diplomat would have qualms with affirming that 'gay rights are human rights' are non-existent, and if this was the problem, it also provides an indication why no African was given the post, or indeed any African woman, though the issue was preposterous in the first place. At the same time it is easy to clear out the fog that these 'moral turpitudes' notwithstanding,

Dr Migiro might have proved to be inefficient anyway, as this may have been alluded to in some blog at some point. The fact is, Secretary General Ban asked Dr Migiro to stay on for six months to ensure smooth passage from her services to someone else, scarcely the sort of send off incompetence awaits!

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