Dlamini-Zuma enters race to become most powerful woman in Africa

2012-01-18 13:59

Home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced her candidacy to chair the African Union (AU) Commission today, thereby entering a tough race to become the most powerful woman on the continent.

Dlamini-Zuma and her campaign team consisting of ministers Siyabonga Cwele, Jeff Radebe, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, told reporters on the sidelines of the cabinet lekgotla that they were “encouraged” by the support they have received.

Ministers and senior government officials have been using every international engagement to lobby for Dlamini-Zuma.

In especially French-speaking African countries Dlamini-Zuma’s candidacy is resisted for two reasons:
» There used to be an unspoken agreement that big African countries would not put up candidates for such a position because it would vest too much power in one country. South Africa is one of the chief funders of the AU.
» The incumbent, Jean Ping from Gabon, is seen as a threat by the Gabonese president and Ping’s return to Gabon, if Dlamini-Zuma’s bid is successful, could destabilise the country.

Together with presidential advisors like Charles Nqakula and Lindiwe Zulu, the lobbying delegation had secured support from SADC countries and key Western African states like Senegal.

But it remains an open race, as it is believed Ping has the support of AU chairperson Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of Equatorial Guinea, who was lobbying President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and King Mswati of Swaziland to vote for Ping.

Ping has also, in recent weeks, done intensive lobbying and secured support from some Central African countries.

Lobbying is expected to take place until the voting takes place on 30 January.

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