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Interview: New AU Commission chief faces challenges to bring stability in Africa

Sunday, July 22, 2012

By Ntandoyenkosi Ncube

JOHANNESBURG, July 21 (Xinhua) — African governments should deal with technicalities regarding protocol and procedure to ensure that new African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma champion democracy and good governance in the continent, a South Africa academic and political analyst said on Saturday.

Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa’s current Home Affairs Minister, has “capacity and experience” to deal with Africa political problems but “protocol and procedures” will be a huge snag, if not addressed, said Clever Chikwanda, a PhD candidate at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.

Dlamini-Zuma was elected as the AU Commission Chairperson at AU’ s 19th summit in Ethiopia earlier this month. She is still waiting for the continental body to finalize arrangements for her to start serving Africa.

“South Africa is an epitome of democratic governance on the continent and its foreign policy has seen it championing this cause through mediating in different conflicts across Africa. It is only befitting that a South African and a woman for that matter leads this organization in order to advance the achievement of this noble vision,” Chikwanda told Xinhua.

The only drawback lies in the technicalities regarding protocol and procedure within the AU. This refers to the amount of autonomy the AU vests in her portfolio to make sovereign decisions, he said.

“This may serve as stumbling blocks,” said Chikwanda, who is a Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development expert.

Africa has 54 nations, many of them still at the early stage of democracy, some still facing conflicts and others are struggling to implement political transitions. At political level Dlamini- Zuma will be confronted with a challenge of promoting greater democracy and good governance in the continent, Chikwanda said.

AU is the most powerful body in Africa but has no authority or right to override member countries’ sovereignty. Established in 1963, it is mandated to accelerate the process of political and economic integration in the continent. It is considered that this mandate will enable the AU to play its rightful role in the global economy while addressing multifaceted social, economic and political problems in the region.

In political affairs, the AU has its core functions as to prevent conflicts and promote sustainable peace and development.

“Dlamini-Zuma is one of the only two remaining South Africa ministers who have worked in all of the country’s post-apartheid governments, and has been one of the driving forces of Africa democracy agenda. Therefore is well positioned to achieving this noble agenda that our continent needs dearly,” Chikwanda said.

He said the senior South Africa politician is likely to advance Africa women and children concerns to the regional and international agenda. This is the starting point for Africa to put United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on women and children on the international radar, said Chikwanda.

“As a woman, she has relentlessly fought for the welfare of women and children and I can only see this receiving more attention at regional and international levels, now that she is on the continental steering wheel.”