Wednesday, 18 July 2012

AU: the new Commission chief and the challenges.

By Gael Masengi

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
The newly elected chairwoman of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma faces tough challenges in early days of her mandate.

On Sunday, South Africa’s minister of Home Affairs was elected head of AU commission; Dr Dlamini-Zuma became the first female to hold the post, beating the incumbent Gabonese Jean Ping after months of power struggle that threatened to divide the already dysfunctional organisation. But the South African diplomat has yet to prove that she is the right woman for the job as she faces tougher challenges than her election, the continent is embraced with various on-going conflicts from north, east to central.

One of them is the most talked-about and disturbing, rebels attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Nation’s recent report showing the implication of Rwanda which her predecessor completely failed to solve. Unlike Jean Ping, ex-miss Zuma is a distinguished politician who attracted praises for her hard work at the helm of the then disorganised South African department of Home Affairs and her contribution to the glory days of her country’s foreign policy back in the days of former president Thabo Mbeki but the boiling conflicts in the DRC, Sudan and South Sudan or the coup in Mali are different stories all together, this is a baptism of fire for her as it seeks more than just being strong enough to handle all of Africa’s never ending problems and above all to re-unite the continent after her election which revealed a deep division that reign within the union’s French and English speaking countries. The AU’ second summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (which was initially scheduled to take place in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe) didn’tjust help to break the union’s long tradition of “only male” leaders but it did certainly serve as a neutral ground for Rwanda and its larger neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo to try to settle their differences as they both agreed via the respective president to an international force to intervene in Congo even though UN peacekeepers are already in the region.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma’s victory on the other hand will have an immense impact and hopefully it will strengthen South Africa’s damaged foreign policy specifically on its relation with fellow Africans due to SA’s unpopular support of the International Criminal Court and its arrest warrants against African politicians. Optimistically it will also help the South African population to connect with other fellow Africans as they always have been detached to the realities they go through.

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