Dlamini-Zuma faces political cross­roads

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African Union (AU) Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has cho­sen to re­main mum about whether or not she will run for a se­cond term at the body when hers ex­pires later this year.

In fact, it isn’t even clear whether she has made up her mind about it.

The talk in the cor­ri­dors of AU head­quar­ters in Ad­dis Ababa for the past few months has been that DlaminiZuma was pack­ing to go home, pos­si­bly to an­swer the call of some ANC lob­by­ists to run for ANC pres­i­dent in 2017.

Those who sup­port this view point to the lack of any lob­by­ing on South Africa’s part as ev­i­dence that she would pack her bags soon.

“There has been si­lence, not a word of a cam­paign,” a South African govern­ment of­fi­cial who works in diplo­matic cir­cles said.

A num­ber of of­fi­cials at the AU and ANC lob­by­ists back home have re­marked on how of­ten Dlamini-Zuma had trav­elled to South Africa in re­cent months.

At least three peo­ple work­ing closely with her said Dlamini-Zuma had cho­sen to keep them – and al­most ev­ery­one else – in the dark about her plans.

One of them said the se­crecy pos­si­bly had to do with her try­ing to shore up more sup­port for a ma­jor con­ti­nen­tal de­vel­op­ment plan in­tro­duced in 2013 un­der her ten­ure, called Agenda 2063.

“So far, only 27 coun­tries [out of the AU’s 54 mem­ber states] have adopted it, and even they are still in the process of do­mes­ti­cis­ing it. If she makes the call now [that she is leav­ing], Agenda 2063 might be put on the back burner,” he said. At least two AU staffers were ex­pect­ing her to give some pub­lic in­di­ca­tion of her plans at this week­end’s sum­mit, but at the same time, they said she might only make her de­ci­sion known when nom­i­na­tions for the po­si­tion close, which usu­ally hap­pens around March or April – three months be­fore the midyear sum­mit.

Dlamini-Zuma fought a bruis­ing bat­tle to be elected in 2012, with Fran­co­phone coun­tries pit­ted against the An­glo­phones – a bat­tle she did not re­ally man­age to fully re­cover from.

Some are spec­u­lat­ing that she wanted to avoid a re­peat of this bat­tle, but only one clear com­peti­tor has emerged so far – Al­ge­ria’s for­eign min­is­ter, Ram­tane La­mamra.

Even though, anec­do­tally, La­mamra has been cam­paign­ing to raise his pro­file in the con­ti­nen­tal body, an­a­lysts from the In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies said there was still un­cer­tainty over whether he was el­i­gi­ble to serve.

La­mamra had al­ready spent two terms on the AU Com­mis­sion in the peace and se­cu­rity port­fo­lio, and it’s as yet un­clear whether the three-term limit ap­plies.

Dlamini-Zuma has not al­ways en­joyed sup­port from mem­ber states in the AU.

For in­stance, she had been push­ing to send in AU peace­keep­ing troops to Bu­rundi fol­low­ing a de­ci­sion by mem­ber states at the peace and se­cu­rity coun­cil in De­cem­ber. This week, how­ever, mem­ber states re­treated from that de­ci­sion af­ter Bu­rundi re­fused to al­low troops in and af­ter vi­o­lence in the coun­try eased some­what.

Some of her legacy projects are also strug­gling. One of the big is­sues she has been work­ing on was to im­prove the AU’s fi­nances so that it could be largely self-fund­ing.

She launched the AU Foun­da­tion to rally funds from the pri­vate sec­tor. At the AU sum­mit in Jo­han­nes­burg in June, the foun­da­tion held a pres­i­den­tial golf day and gala din­ner, but at this year’s sum­mit, the foun­da­tion didn’t fea­ture on the pro­gramme.

Sources say the AU’s fi­nances are suf­fer­ing.

Al­though Dlamini-Zuma is set to jet off home next week af­ter the sum­mit, and de­spite calls from pow­er­ful lobby groups in the ANC for her to suc­ceed Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in 2017, she is by no means a shoo-in.

Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s sup­port­ers are cam­paign­ing for ANC tra­di­tion to pre­vail, mean­ing the deputy steps up to be­come pres­i­dent, while Zuma’s de­trac­tors fear that DlaminiZuma would just be a con­tin­u­a­tion of his rule.

WHAT’S NEXT? African Union Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s term ex­pires this year

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