Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Home Affairs in the Republic of South Africa, has been sworn in as the new African Union Commission Chair. The decision was made at the Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 15, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Dlamini-Zuma elected AU commission chair
Monday, 16 July 2012 15:22
Caesar Zvayi in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
SADC candidate, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma last night made history by landing the hotly contested AU Commission chairmanship after getting the backing of 37 countries ousting incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon.
So tight was the contest that the ad-hoc Committee of Eight Heads of State and Government that was tasked to break the impasse in January had recommended that new candidates be fielded when they failed to broker a deal on who between Dr Dlamini-Zuma and Ping should be at the helm of the AU secretariat after six months of trying.
to land the Commission chair, a candidate required two thirds of the votes from eligible member states. Only 51 of the AU’s 54 member states were allowed to vote this year as three members are under suspension after undergoing unconstitutional changes of governments. The three ineligible countries are Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Madagascar.
Insiders said Dr Dlamini-Zuma had led Dr Ping throughout the three rounds of voting till the then incumbent dropped out after the third round in line with the rules of the contest.
Dr Dlamini-Zuma garnered 27 votes to Ping’s 24 in the first round; 29 votes to 22 in the second round and 33 votes to 18 in the third round of voting at which point Dr Ping was forced to drop out leaving Dr Dlamini-Zumato to vie for the two-thirds majority as a sole candidate in the fourth round.
She duly managed the feat after amassing 37 country votes, three above the threshold for outright victory.
Addressing journalists after the contest, AU chairman Dr Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin said Dr Dlamini-Zuma’s victory was a victory for all Africa and there was no loser as the Commissioner had come out the winner after a tightly fought democratic contest.
Responding to questions shouted by the jostling hordes of reporters, President Mugabe said he was happy with the outcome, and happy for Sadc.
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni described the new Commission chair as a freedom fighter.
‘’She is not a girl correct or a diplomat. She is a freedom fighter and will be a strong voice for Africa,’’ he said.
Convening under the theme “Consolidation of intra-African trade”, the summit, apart from electing the chairperson and the deputy chairperson of the Commission, was also set to appoint the eight Commissioners of the AU and the three Judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In his address to Summit yesterday AU chairman Dr Yayi called on member states to strengthen the bloc to transform it into a union of people, not just a union of states or governments.
In the wake of the impasse over the ICC’s arrest warrant on Sudan president Omar al-Bashir, Dr Yayi called for an African Criminal Court. The mid-term Summit was initially slated for Malawi but was moved to Addis Ababa following disagreements with the host government. Malawian President Joyce Banda
departed from the AU position by refusing to invite President al-Bashir, with the AU insisting the Sudanese leader should be invited.
The AU accuses the ICC of bias. The Malawian leader dug in prompting the AU to convene the summit at its headquarters here.
President al-Bashir was indicted for alleged genocide in Darfur in 2009. Plans for an African criminal court picked pace with a final draft protocol drawn up on May 15 among a number of protocols expected to be adopted here. Before beginning deliberations, Summit honoured the memory of Algeria’s founding president Ben Bella, and Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika who passed on this year with a minute of silence.
The new leaders of Egypt, Lesotho and Senegal President Mohammed Mursi, Prime Minister Tom Thabane and President Macky Sall were all officially welcomed and took the floor to deliver their maiden speeches in which they paid tribute to the founding fathers and pledged to honour their memory in leadership.
Other delegates who addressed the opening session included the Emir of Kuwaiti Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah — who was the guest of honour — Dr Ping, the new UN under-secretary general Jan Elliason who cut his teeth in diplomacy by opening Sweden’s embassy in Harare in 1980, the chairperson of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby, and a Palestine Liberation Organisation representative.
In their closed session, the leaders were expected to receive a report from the Peace and Security Council that convened on Saturday to deliberate on the conflicts in Mali, Sudan, Guinea Bissau, and eastern DRC.
The leaders were also set to consider recommendations of the Executive Council; a report on Nepad, and the report on Africa’s preparation for the Climate Change Negotiations at COP18.
Proposed reforms of the UN Security Council were also part of the agenda. And in line with the Summit theme, “Consolidation of intra-African trade”, Summit was set to consider a report of the High Level Committee of Heads of State and Government/Chairs of the Regional Economic Communities on boosting Intra-African Trade, among other things. The AU seeks to create a pan-African trade zone by 2017.