Maybe next time: Dlamini-Zuma to try for AU chair in June

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will run again for the position of African Union Commission chair at the next AU Summit in June, according to the international relations minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Earlier, Dlamini-Zuma faced off with incumbent Jean Ping for Africa’s top job but both candidates failed to secure two-thirds majority of the votes in accordance with the AU rules and regulations.

Ping is no longer eligible for re-election and this paves a way for Dlamini-Zuma to give it another shot and lobby even harder ahead of the next summit.

“The message that is very clear, if you check the rule book, is that the incumbent shall vacate and the deputy chair will act until the next election. So nothing stops us from fielding the same candidate because she has shown or proven to be a formidable candidate that the incumbent could not defeat,” said Nkoana-Mashabane, in a statement.

However, sources insisted that South Africa will again back Dlamini-Zuma and will lobby the Southern African Development Community.

The elections for the position of new AU Commission chair will now be held at Malawi’s capital Lilongwe in June.

International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela told the Mail & Guardian that the huge number of African countries that voted for Dlamini-Zuma during the three rounds of elections on Monday showed she stood a very good chance of being elected to the hot seat in June.

“From our point of view this is a victory for SADC countries in general and South Africa in particular because we have another opportunity to go at the position at the next AU summit in June,” said Monyela.

Ahead of the election, Dlamini-Zuma’s backers were worried that Francophone countries might be influenced by the French to vote for Ping and snub South Africa, Africa’s biggest economy.

But a South African diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ping’s failure to secure the required two-thirds majority was a clear sign that Africans rejected to be represented by him.

“It was a vote of no-confidence in his [Ping] leadership. African countries were clearly unhappy with an AU that was ran from Paris. This provides us an opportunity to elect someone from a country which does not have neo-colonial hang-ups,” according to the diplomat who attended AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AU Commission deputy chair, Erastus Mwencha from Kenya, will serve as the executive council’s chair until a fresh poll is held.

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012). Read more from Charles Molele

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