SA, don’t only think of yourself – Dlamini-Zuma

2012-07-30 08:02

South Africa must start to act not only in the national interest, but also in the interest of the rest of Africa, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told a gathering of the ANC Women’s League in Pretoria.

Dlamini-Zuma was elected to be the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), which serves as the secretariat of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dlamini-Zuma is a member of the national executive committee of the league and was asked to address the members to explain her new position.

“As South Africa we must locate ourselves in pan-Africanism and not just our national interest,” she told the 600-strong crowd in the Pretoria City Hall yesterday.

She gave background about the development of the African continent, saying “things went wrong with the introduction of slavery”.

“Africa was robbed of its finest sons and daughters; the fittest were taken away to cultivate land for the imperialist countries. It was the most barbaric way of racism.

"It is only when you define people as an inferior race that you can trade them. Those who did that thought we were subhuman.”

But, she said, the tide turned when the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) was formed and later transformed itself into the AU in 2002.

The AU was launched by former president Thabo Mbeki in Durban and had presided over many crises in Africa, with various degrees of success.

Now she hopes to build an AU that is more responsive to crises and is committed to improving on the work of her predecessor, former Gabonese foreign minister Jean Ping.

Dlamini-Zuma emphasised that the AU must ensure the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), which is located in Midrand, must get legislative powers.

“It is envisioned that in future the PAP can make laws for all our countries,” she said.

But that will be only one of many issues she will need to tackle when she takes up her seat in Addis Ababa in September.

First on her agenda would be to get Guinea-Bissau and Mali, which suffered from recent coups, back on track.

The situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will also warrant urgent attention, as it is becoming increasingly clear that the Rwandan government may be involved in fuelling the violence.

A major cleanup at the headquarters will be needed, where there are many vacancies that Dlamini-Zuma will fill with competent staff.

She will also need to navigate complicated relationships with countries like China, Britain and the US, which all support the AU financially.

The event in Pretoria ended on a lighter note with International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane taking the lead with dancing to traditional music.

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