Dlamini Zuma wants unity, transformation

Monday, July 16, 2012

"I would like to make a contribution like any African citizen. I would like to make a contribution to our organisation, that's what has motivated me to come back," she told reporters at a press conference in Ethiopia today.

AU leaders are scheduled to vote for a new chairperson later today. Dlamini Zuma is contesting the position with incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon.

The candidate needs to secure 60 percent of the votes to win - something both Ping and Dlamini Zuma failed to achieve in the first election held earlier this year.

Opening the 19th African Union Summit earlier in the day, AU Chairperson and President of Benin, Yayi Boni, called on delegates to finalise the election of the new commission and its chairperson, saying the continent could not afford to go forward without a properly elected leader at the AU.

"We have to have a chairperson today, we need to show the people of Africa and the world that our union has the ability to take decisions. Failure to do that may undermine our credibility," he said.

Dlamini Zuma said all regions of the continent had the right to compete for any position within the AU, emphasising the fact that southern Africa had never occupied a senior post within the bloc.

"Every country and region must be given a fair chance to contribute to our organisation."

Asked what she would do differently as head of the AUC, Dlamini Zuma emphasised that unity within the AU was her priority, but urged to be given space to familiarise herself with the "ins and outs" of the of the continental body.

She highlighted her experience as a foreign affairs minister for almost a decade as among the skills that would work to her advantage.

She dismissed claims that the issue of the election of a chairperson had divided the AU. "I think an election in any democracy is a competition between a number of candidates for any position. They stand and get voted and whoever wins, wins. I don't think any election should be seen as divisive...whoever wins here today we should all support irrespective of where we were at the beginning of the election."

In South Africa, the Presidency this week said southern African countries had nominated Dlamini Zuma because she had the required skills and competence to lead the AU's executive arm.

"The region is driven by the objective of transforming the AU into an efficient and effective continental body."