Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 00:58 AM EDT, 16 July 2012
After much debate and contention, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former South African Minister of Home Affairs was chosen as the new leader of the African Union (AU). Dlamini-Zuma is replacing incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon who has been the head of the 54-member Commission since 2008.
Dlamini-Zuma’s ascendance was hard-won as there was stiff competition for the chairmanship. The ex-wife of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma proved to be a tough competitor and was rewarded with the honor of being elected as the AU’s first female leader.
The newly built AU headquarters was funded by China as a gift from Beijing which continues to expand its influence in Africa. Located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the inauguration of the new building occurred in January 2012.
Since the AU’s auspicious start, it has suffered some setbacks, particularly with regard to its lack of diplomatic leadership during the Libya and Ivory Coast conflicts. The election process exposed internal rivalries between French-speaking countries that backed Ping and mostly English-speaking countries that favored Dlamini-Zuma.
In addition to division between Francophone and Anglophone countries, Nigeria and Kenya, two of the largest members of the AU reportedly expressed reservations about South Africa having so much power while some smaller nations felt that their issues and concerns wouldn’t receive equal consideration.
According to Reuters Dlamini-Zuma won after three rounds of voting at this weekend’s summit. She received a final vote of confidence of 37, which provided her with the 60 percent majority required to be elected for a four-year term.
- African Union Elects South Africa’s Dlamini-Zuma Commission Head – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- South Africa’s Dlamini-Zuma Elected AU Commission Chairperson (voanews.com)
- S.Africa’s Dlamini-Zuma elected to AU top job (nation.co.ke)