Big task awaits new AU leader
News from Addis-Ababa, the headquarters of the African Union, has now come with finality ― South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been elected the leader of AU Commission, Africa’s 54-member bloc.
Ms. Dlamini-Zuma becomes the first woman to hold the post after a hotly contested election in which as pundits pointed out, had begun exhibiting rivalry between Francophone and Anglophone Africa. The incumbent Jean Ping, an African-Chinese, hails from Gabon which is a French speaking nation.
The election outcome in favor of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former Anti-Apartheid activist, now puts to rest the fear that leadership uncertainty threatened to overshadow the continent’s important issues including security, famine and trade. In January the two contenders failed to garner the required minimum votes of 60 percent to clinch victory.
While many African nations welcome the changes at the helm of the AU commission, the decision to pass the mantle to one of Africa’s powerful nations, against the tradition, may linger for a while. Perhaps Ms. Dlamini-Zuma’s homework includes developing genuine trust in dealing with smaller nations. South Africa is the only nation from Africa in the G20.
Optimistically with her extensive experience as one of the longest-serving ministers, the new leader is expected to bring fresh tact to change how Africa deals with her challenges (including friends and foes) and forge ahead toward the much expected “rise of Africa.”
On security challenges, mounting violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the quest for lasting peace in Somalia and a delicate peace between the Sudans remains obviously urgent. Others are violence in Nigeria and the ongoing instability in Mali. Similarly a lack of human rights, justice and impunity still entangles some member countries.
There is more. The continuous allegation that “external powers” try to “perpetuate their influence” in Africa requires some attention. Interestingly, the rise of China and its increased presence in Africa has seemingly caused uneasiness within some Western powers which have had lengthy influence since colonization.
Several African countries have sought Asian economic partners. Just last month Korean Air launched the first direct flight from Seoul to Nairobi opening up East and Central Africa region to East Asia.
Other items on the AU’s agenda include trade at a time when the continent focuses on boosting intra African trade.
So, as Ms. Dlamini-Zuma relocates to the African Union’s headquarters, a $200 million high-rise center built and donated by the Chinese government, it is the aspiration of Africans that a new dawn will emerge.
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