The African Union is a den of sex pests, an internal memo titled “Me too up for her; She matters for all of us” addressed to African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat and his deputy, Kwesi Quartey, has unearthed.
The report, seen by The EastAfrican dating January 25, was compiled by a group of at least 37 female employees who allege gross discrimination and flouting of recruitment procedures by randy senior departmental staff, who position themselves as “gate-keepers” and “king-makers”, and especially target to exploit short-term staff, interns and youth volunteers, with promises of long-term lucrative contracts for the young women in return for sexual favours.
“From the evidence presented to the Committee, both male and female superiors are reported to harass and bully their subordinates,” the report notes.
On top of sexual harassment incidents, the investigation found cases of bullying, nepotism, conflict of interest, intimidation, gender discrimination, abuse of power, corruption and impunity.
The crisis has been made worse by lack of a sexual exploitation policy at the African top political body.
“Evidence presented suggests that this form of harassment perpetrated by supervisors over female employees in their charge, especially, but not exclusively, during official missions outside the workstation,”
On Friday, AU released a statement acknowledging the abuses and AU’s chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat promised to take action.
“It is the finding of the Committee that incidents of sexual harassment exist in the Commission. This is established by the almost unanimous confirmation of the prevalence of this occurrence by interviewees appearing before the Committee,” a statement Friday by the AU read.
In May, Mr Mahamat formed a High-Level Committee to investigate the allegations of discriminations at the Addis Ababa-headquartered organisation.
The committee sadly noted the cases went unreported for fear of victimisation “because there is no sexual harassment policy in the Commission, and therefore no dedicated, effective redress and protection mechanism available to victims or whistle-blowers.”
While the report did not name officials implicated in the malpractices, it called for the establishment of a comprehensive sexual harassment policy that protects the victims and takes the strongest punitive measures against any perpetrator.
Other recommendations included lifestyle, skills and gender audits as well as the strengthening of oversight and dispute resolution mechanisms.
Review of the human resource policy, organisation structure and culture within the current AU reform process be undertaken, was also recommended.