Following a Mail & Guardian exposé, African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat has promised an investigation into the “professional apartheid” experienced by women staffers at the AU.

On Friday, the M&G reported on the contents of two internal memos in which dozens of female employees described experiencing routine ill-treatment, humiliation and discrimination on the basis of their gender.

Speaking on Monday on the sidelines of the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand, Faki said that his office takes the allegations very seriously. In comments attributed to him and tweeted by his spokesperson Ebba Kalondo, he said:

“I want to make clear – I will not allow discrimination against women under my watch.
I have ordered an investigation to get to the heart of these allegations. Gender parity is at the heart of this Administration. This is my personal conviction and professional duty to all staff.”

Faki also claimed that his office had not received either of the leaked memos that were at the heart of the complaint. “My Office has not received any such complaint as alleged in the South African newspaper @mailandguardian,” he said.

According to one memo, signed by 37 women, morale among female employees is low and continuing to fall. “We, female employees of the AU Commission, are totally appalled by the entrenchment of professional apartheid against female employees in the commission,” it said.

Read the M&G’s exclusive on sexism at the heart of the African Union