AU Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma Steps Down As Delegates Fail To Find Replacement

Mark Babatunde July 20, 2016
Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa steps down as the Chairperson of the AU Commission after four years at the helm.

At the just concluded summit of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda, delegates failed to elect a new chairperson for the AU Commission to replace the outgoing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa.

The BBC reports that three candidates contested the elections during the summit: former Botswana Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, former Equatorial Guinea Foreign Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy, and former Ugandan Vice President Specioza Wandira Kazibwe.

Kazibwe failed to make it past the first round of voting as she was dropped before the second round; afterward, the elections were deadlocked as neither of the two remaining candidates were able to secure the required two-third majority of the number of votes cast.

In addition, some countries are thought to have abstained from voting, citing concerns that the candidates may not have the required experience. Elections for a new African Union Commission chair have now been put off until January.

The outgoing AU Commission Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma was elected in 2012. Previously, she held several ministerial cabinet positions in South Africa, having served as Nelson Mandela’s Health minister when he was president. She would later serve as the minister of Foreign Affairs and then the minister of Home Affairs in succeeding regimes.

The elections that produced Dlamini-Zuma as AU chairperson were also deadlocked after a first round of voting, when she ran against Jean Ping of Gabon. At the time, Dlamini-Zuma led with 60 percent of the votes cast or 37 votes out of a possible 54, but that was still quite short of the required two-thirds majority she needed.

It soon became clear that the candidates had split the votes between the Francophone countries that supported Ping and the Anglophone countries that wanted Dlamini-Zuma.

However in the end after several rounds of voting and some horse trading, Dlamini-Zuma emerged as the first woman chair of the AU Commission or its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity.

In April, Dlamini-Zuma, 67, declined the chance to contest a second four-year term in office as the AU Chair. Reports in South Africa suggest that she intends to contest for political office on the platform of the ruling African National Congress party.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: June 19, 2018


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