High hopes following Dlamini-Zuma’s appointment

2012-07-20 00:00

THERE are high hopes in African Union circles that new commission head Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will kick-start the spluttering organisation into action. She has distinguished herself not only by being one of the longest serving ministers in post-apartheid South Africa, but also by turning around the Department of Home Affairs.

Dlamini-Zuma joins the leadership of the AU with a wealth of management and leadership experience, and member states hope that her appointment will result in a more effective organisation.

“The African Union has taken many very good decisions. However, the problem has been how to get them implemented,” said presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj this week.

Expectations are that Dlamini-Zuma will bring to the AU a new paradigm shift in the management of the political and socioeconomic challenges of the continent.

Immediate ones include the management of the political crises in Mali, Sudan and Southern Sudan, and the escalating violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo — the continent’s current flashpoints. As a mother and negotiator, Dlamini-Zuma has the capability to cut across international borders and internal divides of nations to build peace, and protect the rights of women and children. This assumption is based on the fact that women are more collaborative than men and thus more inclined to consensus and compromise.

Given her level of experience and competence in managing complexity in the Department of Home Affairs, Dlamini-Zuma has the ability to manage the diverse political interests of the African Union member states. However, notwithstanding her experience, the new portfolio presents a more complex, pluralistic, diverse range of actors with complementary and competing interests. Small, minor and insignificant elements within the African Union can have a significant impact on the outcomes of the union’s initiatives. Hence, advocacy and lobbying in such a complex international terrain may play a critical role in changing conversations, and advancing the social and economic development agenda of the continent, besides promoting peace in troubled member states. On the economic front, there is the hope that she will promote intra-African trade and contribute to the continent’s emergence as an economic force.

• Professor Stephen Migiro is the dean and head of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership.

STEPHEN MIGIRO

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