New AU Head of Commission just the woman for the job


South Africa’s minister of home affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma recently elected head of the African Union’s (AU)secretariat will have to use her experience in creating efficient administrations to move the organisation forward according to local analysts.

Dlamini-Zuma was elected head of the AU commissionafter a drawn out battle between herself and Jean Ping of Gabon. Tension between Francophone and Anglophone countries was allegedly the cause of the six-month long voting process which pitted the leaders against each other for votes.

Receiving 60% of the votes on 15 July, Dlamini-Zuma became the first South African and the first woman to chair the AU since its inception 49 years ago as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

Dlamini-Zuma is a qualified medical doctor who finished her degree at Bristol University whilst in exile during Apartheid. She took on the post of Minister of Health after Apartheid ended.

In 1999, after Nelson Mandela retired as president of the republic, Dlamini-Zuma became Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Since Dlamini-Zuma took over control of the Department of Home Affairs as minister in 2009, she has been largely credited for making dramatic positive changes to the department, which has historically been riddled with corruption and inefficiency.

It has not yet been decided whether or not Dlamini-Zuma will remain in this post now that she is the AU Head of the Commission.

Prince Mashele, an analyst at the Centre for Politics and Research, who worked with Dlamini-Zuma’s ministry when she was foreign minister told the Mail and Guardian: “She takes her work very seriously … She has the rare quality of putting up very good administrators.”

Gwede Mantashe, secretary general of the ANC, noted that while the AU has made some very important decisions to move the continent forward, they have had trouble implementing them in the past.

Dlamini-Zuma’s experience in creating efficient administrations and her notorious stern, no-nonsense attitude makes her a suitable candidate for the job.

Congratulations came from all corners of the world, including South African President and Dlamini-Zuma’s ex-husband, Jacob Zuma.

“It means a lot for Africa … for the continent, unity and the empowerment of women,” Zuma said to Aljazeera.

The African Union Commission is the secretariat of the AU. Other bodies within the organisation include a Pan-African Parliament, currently based in Johannesburg, and a newly developed Peace and Security Council.