All eyes on Addis Ababa meeting

The outcome of South Africa’s and Nigeria’s shuttling and lobbying around Africa in the past few months is likely to be decided this weekend when the African Union meets in Addis Ababa to decide who will become its commission chairperson.

Neither of the two candidates secured the requisite two-thirds of the votes needed to win in January and the lobbying since then has been fierce.

President Jacob Zuma, his Cabinet ministers and the foreign ministers of the states in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have been lobbying countries to support the candidature of Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, arguing that the southern region has never led the continental body since it was founded 49 years ago. The position has been held seven times by West Africa, three times by Central Africa and twice by East Africa.

The point was made by home affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa this week, who said it was time for the southern region to be given a chance.

Those lobbying for the southern region also claim that Africa’s voice has become weaker in global politics under the current chairperson, Gabon’s Jean Ping.

Lobbying hard
But Nigerian diplomats have been lobbying hard against South Africa’s position and claim that the country is breaking an unwritten rule that the five countries who collectively fund 75% of the AU’s operations – Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Libya – should not vie for the leadership of the commission.

In recent months Nigeria has been forced to endorse Ping openly after a diplomatic row ensued in May following local media reports that Nigerian Vice-President Mohammed Namadi Sambo had told journalists his country would back Dlamini-Zuma for the AU post.

Within hours the Nigerian high commission in Pretoria issued a statement saying Sambo was referring to positions at the AU in general and had not specifically mentioned the position of commission chairperson.

According to several diplomats speaking this week, Ping appears to have a better chance of winning because of the large number of Francophone African countries, of which Gabon is a member.

In the heads of state’s January vote, the first round went 28 votes to 25 for Ping, but in the second round Dlamini-Zuma was the higher with 27 to 26. In the third round, Ping took 29 votes to 24. According the AU rules, Dlamini-Zuma had to withdraw, leaving Ping as the sole candidate, but he could not garner two-thirds of the vote – 35 countries.

It is unclear whether the AU will allow Ping or Dlamini-Zuma to be nominated again if they fail to secure the backing of two-thirds of the member states this weekend. But the diplomats believed that they should be barred from trying again.

Claude Kabemba, political analyst and an authority on Africa, said he was doubtful about whether there would be an outright winner at the summit. “It is difficult to see how the balance is going to shift compared to what transpired in January. But if there is a win, it’s going to be a narrow one. I believe that, in the end, it will come down to who lobbied hardest in the past few months and who, between Nigeria and South Africa, has managed to use their political influence and economic relations to garner support for the two candidates.”

Charles Molele
Guest Author

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Workers’ R60m ‘lost’ in banks scam

An asset manager, VBS Mutual Bank and a Namibian bank have put the retirement funds of 26 000 municipal workers in South Africa at risk

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.