African leaders divided after AU vote

2012-07-16 22:18

Addis Ababa - African leaders were divided on Monday over a historic vote that saw the first woman elected to head the AU Commission, with some hailing the decision as others criticised powerhouse South Africa's tactics.

Many participants in the African Union summit appeared relieved that the six-month impasse over the continental body's top job had finally been broken on Sunday night when South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma won a tightly fought vote to become the new AU Commission head.

"What I can say is well done to Africa," Tomaz Salomao, secretary general of the Southern African Development Community, told AFP.

Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa's home affairs minister, beat the incumbent, Jean Ping of Gabon, in a close election.

Kenya, which voted for Ping, conceded that the breaking of the deadlock was good for the continent, with Richard Onyonka, an assistant foreign affairs minister, calling the vote "a kind of victory for Africa because we have moved forward".

But he said he disapproved of the bulldozing tactics employed by South Africa.

"For us, it's more like a bitter-sweet victory," he said. "I believe this election has brought sharp divisions within the AU and it was not necessary.

"I'm very uncomfortable with the methods and style of South Africa. They were entitled to bring a candidate... but we felt that there was too much intimidation, arm-twisting and threats," Onyonka complained.

Erastus Mwencha of Kenya, the sitting AU deputy chair, was voted in for another term.

Another delegate, who did not want to be identified, accused South Africa, home to the continent's largest economy, of buying votes.

DRC force

Voting took place at the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where, earlier on Sunday, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to an international force to neutralise rebels in eastern DR Congo, as the AU said it was ready to send peacekeepers.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame told AFP both sides had agreed "in principle" to accept the force.

He was speaking after his first face-to-face meeting with DRC President Joseph Kabila since a UN report in June accused Rwanda of supporting Congolese rebels. The two met on the sidelines of the summit, which wraps up on Monday.

Rwandan and DRC leaders will meet again in early August to try to thrash out the details of the force - including size, mandate, nationality and deployment details - for eastern DRC.

UN peacekeepers already operate in the region. UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson called for an immediate end to the violence, warning that "countries of the region ought to respect the principle of non-interference".

Dlamini-Zuma's win follows her challenge six months ago to unseat Ping, which ended in deadlock after neither won the required two-thirds of the vote, leaving Ping in the post.

Officials said the election went to four rounds of voting before Dlamini-Zuma won 37 votes, three more than the required majority, to confirm her win over Ping.

The vote raised tensions between Africa's French- and English-speaking countries. South Africa also drew accusations of violating an unwritten rule that the AU top job should go to a candidate from one of the continent's smaller countries.

  • bothwellmanga - 2012-07-16 22:55

    Viva mam Zuma vivaaa

      oscar.vanriel - 2012-07-17 05:25

      Vivaa what? Africa is a poor backwards continent, how is this appointment going to benefit the average citizen of South Africa?

      Revelgen - 2012-07-17 09:03

      Bothwell, my problem with the AU is that it seems to have done very little of worth for Africa, while costing billions of dollars to fund since inception. It has supported dictators like Gaddafi and Mugabe, and is riven with internal conflicts. Is Dlamini-Zuma going to make any difference in what has essentially proven a rather ineffective and very expensive talk-fest so far? We shall see.

      Andre - 2012-07-17 13:05

      Please before approaching the public; make sure of your facts. Madame Zuma's credentials: Department of Health: If you should have any doubt about the honesty of medical doctor madame zuma, please read: She was also the inventor of the garlic and beetroot hocus-pocus and pushed her witchdoctor’s knowledge into the pockets of her drunken friend Manto. She invited hero Mbeki’s to Sarafina costing the taxpayers +R 14million. She puts this moron’s head full with aids-denial causing hundreds of thousand of aids related deaths. Not chickens but human beings. Department of Foreign affairs: To hide her incompetence, intellectual Mbeki replaced her to foreign affairs where she opened the South African borders for the destitute African refugees, Chinese and other communists around the world bringing the economy of South Africa to its knees. Department of internal affairs: Her last and most detrimental job!!! Removed the little work available for the unskilled South African workers and pushing them into crime to survive while she could play the compassionate Queen for all immigrants, legal and illegal. By now, not only the economy is in shambles but the unskilled workforce in South Africa too. Service into all government departments comes to a stand still, money becomes as scares as chicken teeth and South Africa is on the verge of collapse. Poor Africa.

      mark.richardson.3914207 - 2012-07-17 13:19

      No loss at all, one less mouth to feed along with her hangers on . Off to the AU you go let them foot your bill from now on. Only problem is 50% of africa does not like her or he ex shower mate.

  • The-Azanian - 2012-07-16 23:16

    Wow how amazing from our beautiful country mandela created...i thought US and its ally france and israel were the only countries that can getaway with an international rape case in front of UN. Now thanks to everything tagged Zuma, we are now raping AU...

      eric.schollar - 2012-07-17 03:33


      Alan - 2012-07-17 08:29

      Impossible! The anc does not pay bribes, they only take bribes.

  • jans.opresser - 2012-07-17 00:25

    me thinks the fools who voted for this lady have never been to Hillbrow or the cape flats? if they had,they would see that the ANC cannot run their own country ifficiently,yet they want to lead all of africa. I also guess that the fools who voted for her have not seen the open air toilets that the black people of south africa have to use to remove the waste from their bodies,or the shacks that most of them live in? I would also be correct in assuming the the fools who voted for her have no idea on how corrupt of a govt the ANC is? they must not know that the current president ZUMA,the ex husband of this idiot who they just voted for,has allowed his relatives (khulubuse zuma)to turn his own citizens into SLAVES in their own country? (see auroa mines) but they want to lead africa?I have seen enough. Oz her I come!

      oscar.vanriel - 2012-07-17 05:29

      This is Africa where leaders are selected based on what the people can do for them not what they can do for the people.

      maleratop - 2012-07-17 10:47

      Maybe you should rather be optimistic than being persimistic about the vote for Nkosasana. Opposing her vote based on what ANC has failed to do is not helping, rather focus on the opportunity of a mother figure who is highly likely to uplift the recognition and respect of the image of a woman and disadvantaged people in this continent. Nkosasana has for a long time been leading various government departments and made huge impacts, but because she has never been a president, she wouldn't jump the gun and perform miracles. Now that her turn has come, you do not know what she is capable of. Just give her a benefit of a doubt and let her steer the boat to the different direction at the higher pilot seat. Just Wait and See.

  • tommo.too - 2012-07-17 00:44

    Watch out.!!! The south Africans are coming...

  • Dean - 2012-07-17 00:46

    we are the financial, economic and soacial powerhouse of this continent, obviously we should be leading the continent

      Dean - 2012-07-17 00:48

      The question is not about us, its about the person, our home affairs isn't too great, but who else would lead the au?

  • sisie.indola - 2012-07-17 07:34

    What is so amazing is that SA is not well liked by the rest of Africa and if there was a lot of bullying, arm twisting etc... you can bet they will not make this easy for Dlamini-Zuma - she is also a women and in Africa they are classified as second class citizens, no matter what they preach. I wish her luck and hope she does not allow her ex to intimidate her - because i have always thought that that divorce was all about politics. If you disagree with me fine but watch their body language the next time you see them together.

  • arthur.delarey - 2012-07-17 07:45

    Typical corrupt South Africa!!!!

  • bomb.technician.5 - 2012-07-17 08:20

    Vote rigging ---- the ANC (and African way)........poor AU.

  • victor.peters.902 - 2012-07-17 08:23

    She couldn't even run the Health and Home affairs dept effectively. Surely she's going to mess this up too. The Zumanites are taking over africa. Ha! Ha!

  • avanwyk2 - 2012-07-17 08:41

    And yet again the ANC uses threats and intimidation to get what they want. Evil party!!

  • Dikotsi Ramakhera Petrus - 2012-07-17 11:58

    I find some of the comments rather stupid and influenced by hatred of some sort. we claim to be South African, but we describe OUR candidate as an ANC something, why? I am beginning to lose respect for some of u guys, who seemingly, value a name that is not African, and who believe, an African is incompetent. Dont be fools

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