Your story on the election for chairmanship of the AUC deserves my appreciation (The AUC and its election ruin, February 2012).
It is true that South Africa’s sudden involvement in the affairs of the election had caused more damages to the AUC in particular and to the continent in general than many of us would like to admit at this point in time. Your story sheds some lights and tried to show the major concerns facing the continent following this unfortunate event at the AUC. But I was disappointed to find it thinner in its area of coverage than I would have liked it to be. Hence I would like to add a few more points to highlight a few other possible motives for President Jacob Zuma to push through the candidacy of SA’s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the Chairperson of the AUC.
President Zuma is under a tremendous pressure of varying types and degrees at home from his party the ANC and South Africans at large and within the continent. The ill diplomatic manner in which SA handled the rebel led conflict in Libya and the post election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire is revealing itself by the day. His futile efforts to put across viable political solutions to the conflicts in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire lack a huge amount of sincerity and diplomatic discipline. Some countries in the continent, particularly Nigeria and Kenya are now regretting their decision to let President Zuma’s weight to dislocate the political equilibrium of both cases that had led to the uncalled for interventions by the west. He wants to mend that.
SA’s infamous and costly bailout of the Monarch in Swaziland and his failure to bring in a lasting solution to the political chaos in Zimbabwe are biting back his political career. The suspended ANC youth leader Julies Malema is a disaster in wait. His demise is not only for himself, but is a blow in the face of President Zuma’s tenure, although he will survive it. And recently relations between neighboring Botswana and SA are calling for more diplomatic caution. These are some of the domestic pressures President Zuma wanted to bail himself out from by placing his candidate (as was pointed in your article) against the commonly practiced wisdoms of the AUC. He wanted to diffuse these pressures.
Internationally, SA is ambitiously striving for not only Africa’s hoped quota at the UNSC, but also for a greater role within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) and IBSA (India, Brazil and SA). Not to mention SA’s quest for a greater role within the G20 member states. There is no better alternative for President Zuma than to use Dlamini-Zuma as bait to reign on the international arena, if only she had managed to be one.
There is another face of the same story too. SA’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has played and continued to play an ungodly role in pushing through this. Officially Ms. Mashabane is defending her actions of manipulating President Zuma by writing “African continent was Balkanized into various contending groupings, each with its own colonial master, owing allegiance first to the colonial master.” She further declared that SA “went to Addis Ababa with a solid candidate who could steer the AU… a firm candidate, someone to personify the ideal AU.” The results showed otherwise and an anxious political atmosphere within the ANC, which was already on the rise, is what has followed next. Ms. Mashabane’s role looks murky and it needs to be closely followed by the media and the whole continent before the next election for the Chairmanship of the AUC in Malawi. For the good of the continent, the rational thing President Zuma, Ms. Mashabane or Dr. Dlamini-Zuma must do is to stay clear of this.