Dlamini-Zuma keeps friends and enemies guessing

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (AFP)

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (AFP)

Political allies and and factional opponents of African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are equally in the dark about whether she will stay on in her position in Ethiopia – or come home and possibly run for president.

When asked if she would put her name forward for a second four-year term at the helm of the continental body when nominations close in March or April, Dlamini-Zuma told South African journalists at a briefing on Sunday night after the AU summit in Addis Ababa to “just wait and see, there is time to decide”.

 She also jokingly asked: “What do you want?”

Even though there is widespread speculation among AU staffers, diplomats and South African government officials that she won’t stay on, Dlamini-Zuma remains mum about the issue.     

One of her aides told said that “we are now in the home stretch” when asked how things were going. But it doesn’t answer whether Dlamini-Zuma and her staff are preparing to wrap things up at the AU ahead of her term that expires in October.     

The election for AU Commission chair is set to take place in June or July, during the mid-year summit.     

There was fierce lobbying and competition between Anglophone and Francophone countries ahead of Dlamini-Zuma’s election to the position in 2012. The voting was so close in January that a second round of elections had to be held during the mid-year summit.     

There is reportedly a strong lobby group in the ANC that wants to see Dlamini-Zuma succeed her ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma, as the first female ANC president when the ruling party holds its leadership elections in 2017. This means she could become South Africa’s first female president when general elections are held in 2019.   

But there is a push from supporters of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to have him step up to the ANC leader position, as has been tradition in the party.

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