Lobbying for Dlamini-Zuma heats up

2012-07-03 15:37
Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (File, Sapa)

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. (File, Sapa)

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Pretoria - Ministers from SADC countries met in Pretoria on Tuesday as lobbying for Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to lead the African Union (AU) heated up.

Opening the event, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) was unanimous on appointing a woman to lead the continental league.

"In this decade of women, from 2010 to 2020, SADC and the southern region are presenting again a formidable candidate in respect of the heads of states' resolution to dedicate this decade to women," she said.

"We are guided, informed and inspired by one goal, which is the unity of our continent. We think we are now ready to deal with African problems and to provide African solutions."

The Pretoria meeting would assess the outcomes of several lobbying projects by the region in its bid to unseat the incumbent AU Commission chair, Jean Ping of Gabon. He has held the position since September 2008.

Elections on January 30 ended in a stalemate as neither Ping nor Dlamini-Zuma could garner the required two-thirds majority - despite several rounds of voting.

The AU then resolved that Ping, a former Gabonese foreign minister, should remain at the helm of the organisation until new polls were held.

African leaders will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 19th Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union in July. The new AU Commission chairman will be elected at the summit.

The event was originally scheduled to take place in Lilongwe, Malawi, but was moved after Malawi refused to welcome Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, a war crimes suspect.

On Tuesday, Nkoana-Mashabane told delegates ministers were mandated by the heads of the state summit, held in Luanda, Angola, to "do some stock-taking" on the campaign process.

"After the extraordinary summit, we were mandated by the leaders to do the stock-taking today so that we will be able to go back and report to them about the status of our campaign," she said.

"Everywhere we have been [campaigning], not a single head of state differed with our viewpoints. This region has never been given the opportunity to hold this position in the 49 years of existence of this organisation," Nkoana-Mashabane said.

In June, regional heads of state, including President Jacob Zuma, assembled in Angola for the SADC Extraordinary Summit.

SADC Council chair Rebelo Pinto Chikoti said the Pretoria meeting would come up with a "final strategy" to guide the bloc into the upcoming Addis Ababa summit.

"We all know that our continent has not been going on very well, we have problems and challenges. We hope that at this meeting [in Pretoria] we will discuss in detail so that we can have a finalised strategy that will lead us into the summit now in Addis Ababa, instead of Malawi," he said.

"Today we will get time to listen to all recommendations that enable us to see how we can work during the African Union session," said Angola's Chikoti.

The meeting would also reflect on other political and security issues in the SADC region.

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