What an Uphill Climb for NkosazamaDlamini-Zuma!
Friday, July 20, 2012
The South African, who until her election was South Africa’s Home Affairs minister, replaces the Gabonese-born incumbent AU commission chair, Jean Ping. This was after yet another closely-fought race between the two contenders for the top job. It followed a deadlock earlier this year, as Ping failed to secure the required votes even after the South African, as required by the AU rules, stepped down.
Although, overall, he was assessed to have performed well, Jean Ping is going out with his credits as well as criticisms. He was hailed especially for his resolve towards our shared vision of economic integration of the continent. On the other hand, he was heavily criticised especially by African leaders for the way he handled the Ivory Coast and Libyan crisis.
In fact, while some reports suggested that the race for the chairmanship was characterised by a familiar competition between Anglophone and Francophone speaking-African countries, others strongly believed that Jean Ping was punished by African leaders for having failed to fully support their call for ceasefire in Libya, instead of the NATO invasion.
What was however clear was that the continent’s political leaders have different personal interests that overrode their collective interest. Some are having masters that they are ready to serve at all costs. The sharp division was manifested in the first round of voting, though slightly calmed during the second round.
Now that, at last, NkosazamaDlamini-Zuma was elected, and sworn-in, it is expected of her to unite these different factions within the AU leadership. She should not proceed on to steer the affairs of the AU based on such narrow lines.
Undoubtedly, Africa and African people have been making significant progress over the past several years. In the past ten years, a great number of African countries have embraced shared values of democracy, human rights and good governance. A good number of them continue to hold elections, though the problem of elections clothing despots in democratic garments still persists in some countries.
Besides, from Sudan to Senegal, Banjul to Bata, the continent is witnessing a rapid, badly-needed infrastructural development. For the first time in several years, poverty is slowing down even in countries like Nigeria, whilst Ghana has joined the league of middle-income countries.
However, it appears that all these positive development are threatened by diverse range of crisis. For instance, in the Sahelian region of Africa, food crisis and food insecurity continue to threaten the lives of millions especially the poor. In Mali, there is political crisis. This is compounded by the rooted-Islamic fundamentalism.
In Nigeria, the Boko Haram problem, it seems is sliding that country back into civil war. With the sustained attack of alleged Rwanda-backed rebels against the Congo government, the dreadful Tutsi-Hutu ethnic rivalries seems to have been revived. The newly independent South Sudan is grappling with both ethnic violence, and strained relations with Sudan. In fact, the entire Gulf of Aden remains unstable. Yet, in all these instances, much is not seen from the AU.
Certainly, NkosazamaDlamini-Zuma, is taking over the mantle at a time when Africa is facing numerous crisis, yet registering positive developments. How to sustain the progresses made over the years and make the ongoing crisis history will be an uphill climb for her. But they are not insurmountable especially if each and every stakeholder positively participates.