Has Dlamini-Zuma done a good job as AU Commission chair?
YES. Under her leadership the AU has evolved from a peace and security emphasis into an institution with a more inclusive focus on African development issues. She has brought her passion for women’s empowerment to the job. On every platform she has advocated for the rights of girls and women, introducing the African Gender Scorecard (2015), and a programme to appoint more women to AU organs. She has also fought for greater African self-reliance, championing an AU move towards greater domestic resource mobilisation. In 2014 – for the first time in its history – an AU-private sector roundtable was convened in response to the Ebola outbreak, which mobilised funds from African businesses, governments and citizens. Furthermore, she administered the deployment of the AU’s first humanitarian mission of more than 800 health workers from more than 20 volunteering African countries, who eradicated the virus. Lastly, the adoption of Agenda 2063 provided Africans with a 50-year continental vision and roadmap that has been integrated into over 25 member states’ national development plans. Having a continental long-term plan helps move beyond short-term crisis management into focusing on the demographic segment that matters most: young African men and women. ● Thato Motaung, Associate Executive Director, African Democratic Institute
NO. The AU chairperson position, while prestigious, is a very challenging seat to hold. It is demanding, frustrating, politically intolerable and outright unhealthy. So why would anyone want such a job? Well, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma wanted it so badly that her thirst to get it created a nasty two-round voting and a divisive political atmosphere in Africa in 2012, when she muscled out the former AU Commission chairperson Jean Ping. When she took the job, she became the first African woman to hold such a position, with the hope for a new, fresh change in outlook for the AU. She set her objectives high, rightly so, as she needed to prove she could lead the AU with vigour: first, to address the ongoing conflict in Mali and the resurgence of Islamist extremists in the Sahel; second, to help the AU support itself financially; and third, to support the political transition in Somalia and peace efforts in the DRC and the Great Lakes region. None of the above objectives were met as crises continued unabated. Worse, the AU is still financially dependent on outside donors, and images of Africans scrambling, drowning and dying to migrate to Europe for a better life continue to fill the media. Recently, she announced that she will not seek a second term, sending a message that she is rushing home to South Africa for greener political pastures. In her lacklustre Africa Day message, she failed to articulate what to celebrate. In short, she has not done well. ● Koffi M. Kouakou, Director, Southern Africa Node of the Millennium Project
From the July-August 2016 print edition