Dlamini-Zuma 'Likely' To Retire From AU

ADDIS ABABA – South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is looking increasingly likely to retire from her position as chairperson of the AU Commission when her first term ends in July this year.

The buzz in the corridors of the AU here on the eve of this weekend’s summit is that that she will stand back for Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, a former AU peace and security commissioner.

Analysts say Lamamra is already lobbying hard for the position, but there are no signs that Dlamini-Zuma is doing the same.

At a pre-summit briefing by the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) here on Wednesday, one close AU-watcher said: “The indications are that she will step down, partly because there are no guarantees of her re-election and partly because of her political ambitions in South Africa.”

This referred to the persistent speculation that Dlamini-Zuma intends to put herself forward as a candidate to succeed her ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma, as ANC president at the party’s electoral conference next year.

However, the ISS analyst – who cannot be quoted because of the rules of the seminar – admitted that there was still quite a lot of uncertainty about Dlamini-Zuma’s intentions.

She herself has said nothing publicly about her plans and some analysts believe she may not have made up her mind before the state of ANC succession politics become clearer.

She has until July this year to decide, as that is when her term on the AU expires.

The ISS analyst and others noted that after the bruising battle for her election to the AU Commission chair in 2012, when she only defeated the incumbent Jean Ping at a second poll, Dlamini-Zuma has no appetite for another fight.

Some believe she has not yet managed to heal the wounds of that harsh battle, which antagonised not only many Francophone countries, but also other large African countries like Nigeria. The latter countries felt South Africa had broken the AU’s unspoken rule that the continent’s larger powers should not occupy the AU Commission chair.

But the ISS analyst said if Lamamra did run for Dlamini-Zuma’s job, he might face a constitutional hurdle.

AU rules say no one may serve more than two terms as an AU Commissioner. Lamamra served two terms as peace and security commissioner – but it is not clear if the term limits would apply to the top job.

The AU will have another important election, at this week’s summit, for all 15 members of its Peace and Security Council (AU PSC).

The ISS analyst said that normally elections to the AU PSC pass unnoticed, but this year several factors have converged to make it significant.

One is that all 15 members’ terms are expiring simultaneously, so all positions are up for grabs.

Another is that the AU PSC has grown enormously in importance because of the many security challenges the AU faces, and is starting to acquire the same stature, in regional terms, as the UN Security Council in global terms.

So more countries are vying for seats. One of the major unknowns still is whether South Africa will bid for re-election. It is currently on the council but indicated a year ago that it would stand down when its term expired this month.

But South African officials have since indicated that the country is changing its mind. It may have been influenced by the fact that Nigeria – a continental rival – has served on the council without interruption since its inception and is likely to bid again.

The election of members of the council is decided by balancing representivity – giving smaller countries a chance to represent their regions on a rotational system – and capacity, which favours the larger countries which have greater means to conduct Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa and at the UN in New York, and to implement the council’s decisions.

Zimbabwe’s foreign minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, said at the opening of the AU’s executive council’s meeting on Wednesday that the council would have to elect the 15 AU PSC members and recommend their appointment by the heads of state and government who meet for their summit at the weekend.


– Africa News Agency