African Union Commission chairpersonship
13 Jul 2012
This week’s African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will be watched with keen interest for a variety of reasons, key amongst which is the decision of the Southern African region to nominate the South African Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).
The Southern African view on the current state of the AU Commission
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) has taken a conscious decision to nominate a Southern African region candidate who has the required skills and competence, to lead the African Union Commission. The region is driven by the objective of transforming the African Union into an efficient and effective continental body. While many achievements can be recorded, the African Union Assembly has, in the past, taken many decisions and made several declarations that, to date, have not been implemented.
These include finding ways of ensuring that the decisions taken are respected and that rules are strictly adhered to. In light of this, and recognising that the Commission of the African Union is the main facilitator and coordinator of the continental development and integration agenda, the SADC is of the firm opinion that there is an urgent need to strengthen African unity, integration and transform its continental structures.
The need for regional rotation for the post of Chairperson of the AUC
The guiding principle of the AU has been that of regional representation and equality of all Member States. A historical analysis of previous Secretary Generals / Chairpersons reveals a highly skewed geographical representation that is contrary to the ideals that espouse equitable regional representivity and equality amongst AU Member States.
The only two regions of Africa that have never held the position of Secretary General of the OAU/Chairperson of the AU, in 49 years since the establishment of the OAU/AU, are the South and the North. Southern Africa is of the view, which it hopes that other African countries will also embrace, that it is of paramount importance that all regions in Africa are accorded the same treatment, privileges and rights and responsibilities when applying democratic practice within the Organisation.
The equality of all AU Member States and regions
All AU Member States have and continue to exercise their full sovereign rights in the decision-making processes of the Organisation. Furthermore, Member States are given the same opportunities to benefit from and contribute towards AU programmes and projects. Equality continues to be the backbone of member state unity within the African Union. In this regard, no region can unilaterally set the agenda, tone and strategic direction of the Organisation.
This process facilitates for inputs to be made by all regions of Africa. Southern Africa has, at the very core of its intentions, the sustenance and drive for continental socio-economic development and integration. The SADC candidate from the Southern Region candidate should be afforded this opportunity to lead the African Union Commission.
SADC promotion of gender equality
Since the formation of the OAU almost fifty years ago and its transformation into the AU ten years ago, not only has the Southern Region not been afforded the opportunity to occupy the top position of the Commission of the African Union but the position has never been occupied by a woman. Taking into account the importance of the AU Decade for Women, the African Heads of State and Government, who have already adopted the AU Gender Policy on Gender Parity in the AU Commission, would be sending a strong continental signal by appointing a woman of an exceptional calibre at the helm of the AUC during this significant period in its history.
The need for strict adherence to the rules of procedure of the Assembly
SADC stresses the sacrosanct adherence to the current Rules of Procedure of the Assembly governing the election of the Chairperson of the Commission for the current election process. It is the view of the SADC that the current Rules of Procedure are fair and democratic in their application. Any deviation from or amendments to the Rules, while the election process is still suspended or underway, will cast doubt on the integrity and validity of our election process, create a bad precedent and severely discredit AU continental democratic practises.
The common SADC vision on Pan-African Values
The SADC is as committed as any other region to the Pan-African values and principles – as enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union - that focus on, amongst others, greater African unity and solidarity; defending African sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence; political and socio-economic continental integration; common African positions on issues of continental interest; international cooperation on human rights; continental peace, security and stability; democratic practise and good governance;
SADC prioritisation on the African agenda
The SADC continues to strive in its quest to find African solutions to African challenges. Key areas of focus include implementation of AU legal instruments; commitment to regional and continental integration; implementation of NEPAD-identified priority infrastructure projects in the region. The region continues to also demonstrate its financial commitment to the African Union through regular and timely payments of assessed contributions to the Organisation.
SADC support for the vision and pledge of Dr NC Dlamini Zuma
The activities to be embarked upon by Dr Dlamini Zuma, once elected as Chairperson, will be premised upon the statutes of the AU, its programmes, strategic plan and decisions of the Policy Organs.
Key issues that inform the strategic vision of Dr Dlamini Zuma include: (i) Consolidating the institution of the AU as a formidable, premier, Pan-African institution; (ii) Ensuring that Africa’s developmental agenda is collectively advanced through integration, peace and security and conflict resolution; (iii) Reiterating that NEPAD infrastructural development projects remain an important programme of the AU; (iv) Implementing programmes aimed at supporting the AU Decade for Women (2010-2020); (v) Focusing development programs on the youth of Africa; and (vi) Reiterating Africa’s continued advocacy for reform of the global governance architecture.
Dr Dlamini Zuma also pledges to support the commitment of Africans to deal decisively with Afro-pessimism and demonstrate that Africa is a rising giant in global affairs. Dr Dlamini Zuma has accepted the challenge to tackle the triad of development-democracy-peace and security and to intensively work to make the African Union fulfil the mandate given to it by its founding fathers. Under the Chairpersonship of Dr Dlamini Zuma, values that the African Union Commission should inculcate include transparency and financial accountability; dedication to the development of Africa; a heightened sense of professionalism; respect for continental diversity; and a strong work ethic.
The SADC endorsed candidate recognizes that African women and men must be given the equal opportunity to make a positive contribution to the workings of our Commission. SADC believes that the five regions of our continent have the obligation, right and responsibility to make their contribution in the top echelon of our continental body.
Africa stands at a crossroads in its history
In terms of economic growth, the continent is currently the second fastest growing after Asia. Africa is also the second most populous continent in the world. Experts predict that, by the next five years, seven of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies will be African. Africa is on the rise. And we need a strong AU not only to maintain this momentum, but also to solidify our institutional framework for a better future for Africa’s people.
Spokesperson for President Jacob Zuma
Cell: 079 879 3203
Issued by: The Presidency
13 Jul 2012
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