Is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma best choice for SA president? Africans and Germans aren’t impressed

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Could Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma be a good choice for president? Her #Zupta connections, as an ex-wife to President Jacob Zuma, have teed her up as a possible choice among ANC politicians who would not like to see a dramatic change in the status quo. And, with credentials as a former home affairs minister, former foreign affairs minister and former health minister, she is a strong contender among others with the power to instal her as ANC leader. State capture allegations and the risk that she will continue to feed the hungry Zupta network aside, Dlamini-Zuma isn’t an obvious choice when you consider charisma and the ability to bring divided groups together. News24 has put together a report card on her role as African Union commission chair. It’s not particularly flattering. At best, she pushed herself through a glass ceiling, she launched a plan and she managed to get South African attention on continental issues. But, Nkosazana-Zuma also created a bad impression because she was hardly ever at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. She is criticised for failing to unite polarised groups. The international media, meanwhile, is not as subtle as News24, with Deutsche Welle carrying the headline: ‘Good riddance’ – Africa says goodbye to AU’s Dlamini-Zuma’. ‘She will not be missed by many and leaves a profoundly divided AU behind,’ Germany’s international broadcaster says in its editorial. Ultimately Nkosazana-Zuma turned a blind eye to huge crises, from the Ebola disease that claimed many lives to civil wars and the deaths en masse of African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Deutsche Welle quotes figures from around Africa conveying the impression that, for Nkosazana-Zuma, personal political aspirations come first – and the wellbeing of people within her sphere of influence only a passing interest. South Africa can surely do better than Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the President’s chair? – Jackie Cameron

By Carien du Plessis, News24

Cape Town – The African Union is expected next week to elect Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s successor as chairperson of the bloc’s commission.

African heads of state failed to elect a new head of the commission last year during its 27th summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

Assembly of the African Union

None of the three candidates at the time was able to muster the two thirds majority to win the secret box.

News24 takes a look at some of Dlamini-Zuma’s achievements during her tenure.

Three things that went right:

1.     At the African Union’s 50th anniversary in 2013, Dlamini-Zuma spearheaded the launch of Agenda 2063 – a long-term vision of where Africa wants to be in another 50 years. While the success would depend on the implementation by member states, she did manage to get political buy-in for the plan and popularise it.

2.     She managed to crack the glass ceiling in Africa as the first woman to lead the continental organisation. Many have argued that the continent isn’t ready for a woman in that position, but two women (out of five candidates) are running for AU Commission chairperson this year, and at least one is a very strong favourite to follow in Dlamini-Zuma’s steps. She made women’s rights the theme of two consecutive AU summits and the continental body started a major campaign to end child marriage which, together with similar campaigns by other organisations, seems to be bearing some fruit.

3.     Her tenure at AU helped turn the attention of South Africans to continental issues after former president Thabo Mbeki’s African Renaissance had come to an end. At home Dlamini-Zuma was invited to a number of talks during which she spoke on African issues and preached free movement and tolerance from South Africans towards our neighbours. A lot of this is related to her campaign for the presidency, but at least it made South Africans look beyond the borders again.

And a few things that didn’t:

1.     One of the main criticisms against Dlamini-Zuma is that she was never really present at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. She spent a lot of time travelling back and forth to South Africa on ANC business, something that caused resentment amongst staff and AU partners – and affected her work negatively.

2.     Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign to get elected in 2012 was highly polarising and she never really managed to fully unite the continental body after that. A lack of unity of purpose would have made her work in Addis a lot more difficult.

3.     In her efforts to focus more on conflict prevention through development rather than just putting out fires, Dlamini-Zuma was at times slow to react to crises and to speak out on burning issues. In recent times, following the ANC Women’s League’s announcement that they want her to become South African president, she has been outspoken on Twitter about problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and The Gambia. Some say this is too little, too late.

Source: News24

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