by Isi Esene
South African continues to dominate the leadership of the African continent with the election of Nkosazana Dlamin-Zuma, the South African Home Affairs minister and ex-wife of the South African president, Jacob Zuma.
Dlamin-Zuma was elected on Sunday to head the African Union (AU) Commission, after a bruising leadership tussle which threatened to divide the organisation and continent along language and sadly former-colonial-master lines. With her emergence, she becomes the first female to hold the exulted position.
Her supporters were particularly ecstatic when her name was announced as the winner of the long-drawn election which pitted her against the incumbent, French speaking Jean Ping from Gabon.
Dlamin-Zuma particularly enjoyed the support of fellow Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries who have always been her country’s traditional political allies and Anglophone countries. While, Ping garnered his support mainly from French-speaking African states.
As head of the pan-African organisation, Dlamini-Zuma, will be faced with problems of convincingly tackling many challenges in security flashpoints such as Northern Mali, Guinea-Bissau, and border disputes between Sudan and its neighbour, South Sudan.
According to Reuters, Dlamini-Zuma had to undergo three grueling voting rounds before Ping, 69, was eventually defeated. The contest to head the Commission of the 54-member AU had been deadlocked since a previous vote at a January summit ended in stalemate.
Jean Ping refused to say much when the results were finally announced, “She won, I congratulate her,” was his response as he left the venue quietly after the result was announced.
In an interview with reporters after her victory, Dlamini-Zuma tried to dispel rumours making the rounds across the organisation of an attempt by South Africa to dominate the continent through the AU.
She said: “South Africa is not going to come to Addis-Ababa to run the AU, it is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who is going to come to make a contribution.”