Dlamini-Zuma fails to clinch AU top job
Mandy Rossouw, City Press
Addis Ababa – The African Union summit ended with an anti-climax today when neither of the candidates for the job of chairperson of the AU Commission succeeded.
Neither incumbent Jean Ping nor Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma managed to secure the two-thirds of votes needed to become commission chairperson – the administrative head of the AU.
Deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha from Kenya will now act in the position of chairperson until the next AU summit in July in Lilongwe, Malawi. A new contest will be held then, but Ping will not be allowed to compete. His failure to secure two-thirds of the vote, despite being the incumbent, is seen as a vote of no confidence.
In a nail biting contest three rounds of elections were held. In the first round, Ping won by three votes, in the second, Dlamini-Zuma won by two votes. When Ping clinched the third round, Dlamini-Zuma had to withdraw from the race – according to the rules. But the rules determined that Ping still had to secure two-thirds of the votes, which he failed to do.
In the corridors outside the Large Conference Hall in the new AU headquarters, officials and ministers were on tenterhooks during the process.
When the results became known, Dlamini-Zuma emerged from a holding room on the sidelines of the conference hall and sang and danced with female delegates from South Africa and other African countries. They insisted that although she did not get the top job, they managed to get rid of Ping, whom South African officials believes to be in the pocket of the French. Ping hails from French-speaking Gabon.
Officials were not sure whether Dlamini-Zuma would contest the position in the next summit.
Said one: “It will be a decision of cabinet whether she tries again.”
With disappointment all round delegates and officials crowded the tea tables to eat their sorrows away – the fluffy pastries came out at just the right time to be served with the trademark Ethiopian coffee.