SA govt pushing Dlamini Zuma’s AU ambitions

The South African government has reiterated its support for Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s candidature for the position of chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) ahead of her departure for Ethiopia today.
“The government reiterates its unflinching support, sponsored by SADC, for the candidature of Minister Dlamini Zuma for the position of the African Union Commission, while expressing its conviction that she possesses both the capacity and the will to help the continent in its endeavours to create a better life for all Africans while taking its rightful place among nations of the world as an equal and partner for sustainable development,” the Department of Home Affairs said.
Dlamini Zuma will leave for Addis Ababa today where she will join the government delegation, led by President Jacob Zuma, for the upcoming AU Summit, the state news agency, said. The elections for the AU Commission’s chairperson, deputy chairperson and other commissioners are scheduled for 15 July.
The SADC has nominated Dlamini Zuma as the candidate of the Southern Region for the position of the chairperson of the AUC. “This comes in the context of the view that now is the time for the Southern Region to be afforded an opportunity to lead the AU Commission. History has recorded that since its formation, the AU Commission has never been led by a candidate from the Southern Region. This applies equally to the history of its predecessor, the OAU,” the department pointed out.
Dlamini Zuma’s candidature also coincides with the African Union Heads of State and Government’s declaration of 2010-2020 as the “Decade of Women”. “Accordingly, her successful candidature will help communicate a positive message that women, acting jointly with their menfolk, have a meaningful and fundamental role to play in the political and economic renewal of the continent,” it added.
Meanwhile, SAnews added the Africa Union Commission (AUC), an administrative branch of the African Union (AU), will push leaders at the bloc’s summit in Addis Ababa this week to adopt the final implementation of the development Strategy Plan (SP) for the continent. This is because the AUC three-year Strategic Plan developed in 2009 expires this year and a new one needs to be implemented. The AU has had two plans since it was transformed from the Organization of African Union 10 years ago.

The SP 2009-2012 came as a result of African leaders’ vision to set the path towards Africa’s integration and sustainable development. They agreed to achieve this vision, several organs would be established and mandated to develop and implement priority strategies and programmes.

Officials say the first SP, which covered the period 2004 – 2007, was both a major instrument and a roadmap that served as a basis for the implementation of various programmes aimed at tackling poverty, corruption and reducing conflicts on the continent.

AUC Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha, who addressed reporters in Addis Ababa yesterday, said that the new plan needed to build on the achievements of the previous two strategies. Discussions will be tabled at the executive meeting of ministers scheduled for Thursday and adoption by Head of State summit later this week.
“What the strategy says is that by 2030, we should have achieved a prosperous Africa. What this means is that by that time, a minimum of 30 countries should have achieved middle income status and that Africa should occupy its rightful position in the world economy,” Mwencha said.

Through the plan, the bloc envisages actions that address four strategic objectives through different programme areas. Successful implementation of the plan, say officials, will help create enabling conditions to improve regional integration, agricultural productivity, and economic development as well as to ensure sustainable management of natural resources and the environment.

Experts say regional integration has been part of Africa’s strategy for economic transformation for decades now but one common criticism is that it lacked coherence. With the organisers choosing intra-trade as a theme for the summit, leaders are expected to engage in protracted debates as to the real cause of the stumbling blocks in the continent’s economic integration.

Mwencha suggested the vision for the continent stretching to 2030 should have a number of features ranging from peace and security and an economy that was able to create jobs and financially viable states. He advocated for a robust debate on how Africa saw itself among the nations of the world.
“In other words, we should look at our trade with the rest of the world, we should look at Africa’s participation in other global fora like the World Bank and the UN, Africa should be adequately and equitably represented, that’s what we will be pushing for,” he said.

Mwencha stressed the importance of Africa to have peace with itself. By pursuing a common vision, the continent would be able to see that if one state failed the rest were affected. He said the AU has recorded a number of achievements since it was transformed a decade ago and these could be seen in the area of peace and security, poverty alleviation and democratic practices. Its 15-member Peace and Security Council had managed to reduce the number of conflicts from no less than 20 10 years ago to very low numbers. “Today we have less than three active conflicts and that is not by chance,” he said. In the new strategy plan the AU would be working on programmes to reduce maternal deaths, strengthen education, better relations with Europe, China and other regions, Mwencha said