African Union’s Dlamini-Zuma on security and her political future in South Africa
The Africa Report: Could you explain what the AU summit decided on the Burundi crisis? Will the AU be sending in a delegation or even a peacekeeping force?
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: The idea was that a high-level panel should go and sit down with them [President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government] to discuss with them. The end is peace and security and stability in Burundi. So if there is peace and stability […] then it’s fine. But if it doesn’t happen, there should be an opportunity for the AU to go to Burundi to try and persuade them to allow the AU to assist them. At the moment, it’s not on the table […] in terms of going in without [the government’s] permission. But it’s on the table to have a dialogue so that you can keep monitoring the situation. If the situation improves without it, then we are all saved. But if it deteriorates, then we have to do something.
Why? Why are you asking these questions? Are you one of them that wants to know?
You have been vocal about the need for the AU to be more financially independent. What’s the progress on this?
It’s coming, because Angola has moved [to pay more]. Other countries have been volunteering to pay more: Kenya, Ethiopia, Chad. It’s beginning to dawn on them that if we are not self-reliant in terms of our organisation, then it’s going to be difficult. The discussion about alternate sources of funding is still on the table. There is a decision to have a retreat of heads of state, foreign ministers and finance ministers to discuss [the financing issue] because they really want to see movement in this area. The matter has been debated and discussed for about 14 years without any conclusion.
Now there’s even a commitment to say [member states] must gradually increase their payment of programmes to a level of 75% from Africa and 25% from donors. And there’s a commitment to contributing 25% [of funds for] the Peace and Security Commission and 100% of [the AU’s] operational costs. We are going to be working with countries, together with the Economic Commission for Africa, to see what alternate sources of fund- ing we can get. It was interesting during Ebola that the telecoms companies and regulators agreed to have these SMSs where, by sending SMSs, people made a contribution towards [stopping] Ebola.
Are the AU and regional organisations making progress on a political agreement on South Sudan and ending the abuses such as gang rape?
There were no strong political and government institutions [in South Sudan]. And disputes that were taking place within the party degenerated. But also, it’s about the control of resources. We are hoping that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- in-Opposition will come back in. I’m told their advance team has arrived [in Juba]. But the leadership [former vice-president Riek Machar and his allies] must also arrive there because without an inclusive government it will be difficult to deal with all those things.
What is the timetable for this year’s leadership elections in the AU Commission?
As far as I know, the rules say that the names of the candidates must be with member states three months before the next summit, so you can work it [out for] yourself.
Have you decided whether you will stand for another term?
No, I’ve not decided yet. I have time to decide.
You have time to decide?
Why? Why are you asking these questions? Are you one of them that wants to know? [Laughs]
A lot of people in south Africa are lobbying for you to come back. it’s the issue of a woman president that we’re discussing this year. Would you make yourself available if the ANC asks?
Just wait. We will see. There is time to decide [Laughs]. ●