16 July 2012
Strengthening African unity and advancing the transformation of the continent are top of the agenda for the newly elected chairperson of the African Union Commission, South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
“I would like to make a contribution like any African citizen,” Dlamini Zuma told reporters at a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday, just hours before leaders attending the AU summit voted for their organisation’s top job.
“I would like to make a contribution to our organisation, that’s what has motivated me to come back,” she said.
Asked what she would do differently if she were head of the AU Commission, Dlamini Zuma emphasised that unity within the AU was her priority, but added that she would need some space to familiarise herself with the “ins and outs” of the continental body.
She highlighted her experience as a foreign minister for almost a decade as among the skills that would work to her advantage.
Dlamini Zuma also dismissed claims that the issue of the election of a chairperson had divided the African Union.
“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.”
South Africa’s Presidency said last week that 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,” the Presidency said.
Dlamini Zuma went on to win Sunday’s vote, becoming the first woman, and first member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to head the AU Commission.