February 4, 2012 · 3 Comments
Unfortunately things have not gone according to plan for Dlamini-Zuma and by extension, the South African government. The current chairperson of the AU Commission, Jean Ping of Gabon, has retained this position of leadership for at least another four months. Ping obtained a narrow majority vote in the voting process which took place on 31 January 2012. The AU procedure requires the new leadership to obtain a two thirds majority before a leader can be elected into the position of the chairperson of the commission.
Dlamini-Zuma stated that if she was elected, she would pledge to spare no effort in building on the work of those African woman and men who want to see an African Union that is a formidable force striving for a united free truly independent, better Africa. President Jacob Zuma portrayed his full support for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s application to the position and Dlamini-Zuma was confident that she would be victorious.
The failure on the AU member states to vote with a majority status on a new chairperson to the AU Commission has left many questions open as to South Africa’s role in the region. The mere fact that Jean Ping obtained a narrow majority of votes compared to Nkosazana, Dlamini Zuma portrays a split in the African countries belief and loyalty in South African leadership in the regional body. South Africa has often been criticised for being the bully on the region which has ultimately led Africans and in particular smaller states, to question South Africa’s role and credibility in the region.
South Africa needs to review its foreign policy and its role in the region so that it can gain the confidence of its fellow member states in Africa. South Africa’s foreign policy has changed dramatically from the administration of former Thabo Mbeki to the administration of President Jacob Zuma. During the reign of President Thabo Mbeki, AU member states had great respect and confidence in South Africa as President Mbeki was a promoter of African Renaissance and Pan Africanism. It can be argued that if South Africa was currently under the leadership of President Thabo Mbeki, Nkosazana, Dlamini Zuma would have probably stood a real chance in the victory of her candidacy for the position of leadership in the AU. President Zuma and his administration has not taken an active role in promoting the founding values of the African Union / Pan Africanism.
On the other hand had Dlamini-Zuma won the vote for the chairperson of the commission, her decisions taken in the leadership position would not be viewed objectively and would be constantly undermined and questioned , firstly because African countries have not shown confidence in South African leadership and secondly because Dlamini-Zuma is a citizen of a country which AU member states view as a regional hegmon, hence any decisions taken in favour of South Africa would be viewed as unduly influenced. The AU commission leadership role requires a leader that possesses the confidence of the African people and that has nothing to gain besides the upliftment of the standard of living of all African people across the continent.
South Africa’s role in the region has dealt a huge blow and South Africa needs to reassess its goals and strategy in the region. The result of the voting on the 31 January should be taken seriously and South Africa should review its role and policy on the continent.
- Fathima Karolia, Political Analysis South Africa