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Dear Editor,

Reference is hereby made to your article published in Vol I, Issue Number 12 of February 2012, written perhaps with the intention of shedding some light on the state of the Africa Union in the aftermath of the recent elections of the post of Chairperson of the AU Commission. Unfortunately, the article paints an inaccurate picture.

This Embassy regards your article as very misleading, unfair, unbalanced and based on a rather simplistic understanding of how our Union in general and the Commission in particular works. The least said about the insinuation portrayed in the cover picture the better. We stand by our President, His Excellency Dr Jacob Zuma, and salute him as a unifier, peacemaker and a patriot committed to the consolidation of the African Agenda.

President Zuma’s approach reflects the ethos underpinning South African’s Foreign Policy, such as respect for democracy, good governance, human rights, economic revitalization, promotion of a rules based international system and the creation of a just and equitable global order.  Central to this is the objective of ensuring the realization of peace, stability and economic development not only on our beloved continent but internationally as well.

To put the record straight, the rules of procedure of the African Union, when it relates to Elections of Office Bearers clearly stipulates that after a term of four years, elections can be called for candidates to stand, including incumbents. This is also a fundamental tenet of democracy, the right to choose. This matter is not simply about South Africa or SADC. South Africa and SADC put forward Dr Dlamini Zuma’s candidature, based on merit and her enormous capabilities and experience, to be in service of the whole continent and in order to galvanize and reposition the Commission in an increasingly challenging world. The candidature of Dr Dlamini Zuma is not about unseating Dr Ping as a person. It is about promoting the agenda for development, bringing change and progressive transformation to the AU Commission, thereby building the Union. It is not about individuals. Your assertion that “Dr. Dlamini Zuma had barely said a word about her candidature except for one official statement released just a week before the summit in Addis Ababa” testifies to your article’s unfortunate tendency to individualize the elections for the chairpersonship, an attempt to put the campaign on pedestal similar to that of a beauty pageant. Although opportunities abound, our continent also faces daunting challenges and we should not trivialize this reality and whip up emotions around Elections for elective Commission posts.

The article also claims that there was “either a political naivety or a gross misunderstanding of the damages South Africa had already caused on the continent” and “its fist aggressive attempt to take control of the continent’s body ended up cracking the continent open for lasting damages to come in”. This statement is totally misleading and represents a doomsday approach that would only please Afro-pessimists and those forces wishing to undermine Africa’s hard earned freedom and self-determination. The Unity of the African Continent will forever prevail. South Africa remains more committed to the African renewal and Oneness of our Mother continent.

Finally, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) will not experience, contrary to what your article posits, deeper divisions because of the outcome of the past Election. The RECs are important building blocks towards greater continental integration. The unwavering commitment of Africa’s collective leadership to take advantage of Africa’s current economic rise is a far greater objective than your concern about the effects of the past election. Your analysis seems not to appreciate the fact that the elections for the critically important posts of Chairperson of the Commission, Deputy Chairperson and Commissioners are an integral part of the functioning of the Commission, which serves our Union, and are contained in the rules of procedure. It is this democratic process of choice that is effectively unfolding and should be respected and upheld.

Senior Management of the Embassy of South Africa 
Addis Ababa.

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