Why Dlamini-Zuma is the wrong person for AU chair

Graham McIntosh says the minister's values will go down like a lead balloon on continent

Why is Zuma hell-bent on pursuing the Chairmanship of the AU Commission for South Africa and installing one of his former wives?

In a thoughtful piece in the Sunday Independent (5 February 2012) David Maimela of the Mapungubwe Institute, suggests that South Africa seriously miscalculated in attempting to enter a contest for the post of Chairman of the AU Commission. He writes "Perhaps South Africa, in it's search for hard power forgot the real power it has as the only African country in the G20 block and with membership of IBSA and Brics."

Another point he makes is Africa's scepticism about the reliability of South Africa as a mature leader of Africa's agenda in view of our blunders last year in respect of the Ivory Coast and Libya. President Zuma seems to brush off these legitimate concerns and did so again in his reply to the debate in Parliament on his State of the Nation Address on Thursday 16 February 2012.

In that speech President Zuma was fierce about his determination to see a South African elected to the Chairmanship of the AU Commission. He spelt out with conviction how he was resolute to see the AU shaped differently and that was why he wanted a South African Chairman, who, by implication, would be there to drive South Africa and Jacob Zuma's agenda on Africa. Maybe he was also angry at having his will thwarted at the first round of voting.

He also laid out his campaign strategy in playing the neo-colonial card, the gender card and using South Africa's considerable muscle in the Southern African region to bring SADC countries to heel and make them vote for a South African candidate, who is to be his ex-wife, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ). In fact one could not but be reminded of Muammar Gaddafi who wanted to shape the AU according to his vision, even though, thank heavens, Jacob Zuma's vision is more sensible, or we hope so.

Another puzzle is why President Zuma decided to put forward NDZ as South Africa's candidate. She is a good negotiator, was a conscientious Minister of Foreign Affairs, disgraceful as Minister of Health. In that position she refused AZT treatment to HIV positive mothers for the prevention of mother to child transmission - how many babies died as a result? As Minister of Home Affairs she has chosen some competent senior staff, including Director General Apleni, to make significant improvements in what was a poorly run department. But she has serious drawbacks.

Her politics are well known. Her favourite regime in Asia appears to be North Korea (also a favourite of Robert Mugabe, Julius Malema and Premier Cassel Mathale of Limpopo) and close behind is India's West Bengal and Vietnam. In the Americas she regards Cuba as the right model to follow and Hugo Chavez as a fine fellow.

In fact so committed is she to Cuba that last year she arranged for 30 Spanish speaking Cubans (not Australians or Canadians) to come and train, at a base in the Northern Cape, seconded SANDF personnel as South African immigration officers in the Department of Home Affairs. Her distaste for the USA is thinly disguised. Africa needs her views as Chairman of the AU Commission like a hole in its head.

Her values are also well known. She is not simply a supporter of abortion on demand but is passionately so. She regards human rights as secondary to her aggressive feminist agenda, not of significant representivity, but of socially engineered quotas. Any white male who has had to interact with her, quickly senses her sexist and racist body language.

Some black males have also experienced an attitude from her that is not too different from that of the female spider. These values will go down like a lead balloon in African states on the Mediterranean rim as well as South of the Sahara. She is hardboiled enough to belligerently set out to impose those values on the Africa agenda.

Much less controversial candidates would have been Yunus Carrim or Lindiwe Sisulu or Marthinus van Schalkwyk or Mavuso Msimang, to name only four from the ANC's considerable basket of talent. All four would have been hardworking and effective as puppets dancing to Jacob Zuma's strings to implement South Africa's agenda at the AU in Addis Ababa. In our South African obsession with "tokoloshe politics" (conspiracy theories) people say that part of Zuma's real agenda is to get NDZ out of the country and unavailable for top positions at the ANC's elective Conference in Mangaung in December 2012.

If President Jacob Zuma doesn't want to get egg on his own and South Africa's face, in his desire to enjoy "hard power", as David Maimela puts it, by forcing a South African Chairman on the AU Commission, he needs to rethink his strategy as well as his candidate for the post. Two blunders in Ivory Coast and Libya must not have a possible third blunder added to South Africa's record in Africa!

Graham McIntosh, who writes in his personal capacity, is a COPE MP. He has travelled extensively in Africa.

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