Dlamini-Zuma is new AU Commission chief
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was, yesterday, elected the new chairperson of the African Union Commission, beating incumbent Gabon’s Jean Ping, who occupied the office in 2008.
Dlamini-Zuma won all the four round of the elections which gave her a 2/3 required quarter to occupy the AUC office.
The elections were held at the 19th African Union Summit, attended by President Paul Kagame.
In January, this year, the African Union failed to elect a new AUC chair after none of the two candidates garnered minimum votes.
Dlamini-Zuma, a veteran of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, has served in the cabinet of every South African president since Nelson Mandela.
An experienced diplomat and doctor by training, Dlamini-Zuma, 63, is known for her competent management and stern personality.
She was health minister when Mandela became the country's first black leader in 1994.
She went on to serve as foreign minister for a decade.
Her ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma, named her home affairs minister, and has since won plaudits for turning around a ministry mired in gross mismanagement to achieve the first clean audit in 16 years.
Before being elected AUC chair, Dlamini-Zuma had vowed to work at making "it a more efficient and effective organisation".
She is the first woman to head the AU Commission.
The two-day summit, which is scheduled to end today, is held under the theme “Boosting Intra African Trade.”
With only 10-12 per cent of intra-African trade in comparison with 40 per cent of intra-North American trade or 63 per cent of intra-Western European trade, African leaders are seeking build upon the commitment of all nations to achieve integration, economic growth and development.
Meanwhile, President Kagame yesterday held a bilateral meeting with his Congolese counterpart, Joseph Kabila, before both leaders attended the meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, chaired by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.
Presidents Kagame and Kabila held cordial discussions, and agreed to increase communication geared to Rwanda supporting DRC to end crisis, according to government officials.
The 11 heads of states signed the recommendations drawn from last week’s meeting of ICGLR foreign ministers.
The ICGLR Heads of State meeting endorsed the decisions of the inter-ministerial meeting and agreed special summit to examine root causes of instability in DRC and larger Great Lakes region to take place in Kampala, Uganda, on August 6 and 7.
They committed to a renewed focus on strong and decisive action against the FDLR who remain a threat to Rwanda as well as to Rwandophone and other communities in Eastern DRC; and to reinforce surveillance on the border between Rwanda and the DRC, supervised by a mutually-agreed third-party.
The deal provides for deployment of a neutral international force to help rid Eastern DRC of rebels and militia groups including M23, FDLR, other others.
Meanwhile, Rwandan authorities on Saturday rejected an attempt by the UN Stabilising Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) to "repatriate" alleged Rwandan M23 rebel defectors on the grounds that the suspected combatants must undergo the agreed joint verification process established with DRC.
Twenty-nine alleged M23 defectors, along with seven FDLR combatants who had surrendered to MONUSCO troops, were escorted to the Rwanda/DRC border on Saturday.
Among these were eleven who are currently investigated by the Rwanda/DRC Joint Verification Taskforce (JVT) along with 18 unknown individuals. The seven ex-FDLR combatants were accepted as part of the established disarmament, demobilization and repatriation process.
Defence and Military Spokesperson, Brigadier-General Joseph Nzabamwita, said: "The decision by MONUSCO to attempt the sudden repatriation of this group without warning or prior notification is highly irregular and well outside established procedures”
“While eleven of the 29 so-called defectors are still under investigation by authorities on both sides of the border, we have no basis for knowing the background or nationality of the other 18,” he added.
“We have officially communicated this incident to our counterparts in the DRC and requested that these individuals be processed as part of the JVT’s ongoing investigations.”
The RDF also noted the presence of a media contingent along with DRC officials which added to suspicions that the attempted repatriation was an orchestrated publicity stunt, a government statement said.
“This unusual approach neither reflects the spirit of the JVT process nor the ostensibly impartial mandate of MONUSCO. We urge DRC authorities to adhere to jointly agreed mechanisms and resist political sensationalism,” added Gen. Nzabamwita.
Kinshasa accuses senior Rwandan officials of backing M23 rebels, while Kigali says Congolese army is fighting alongside FDLR – the militia group blamed for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi – in the ongoing conflict, which has also displaced an estimated 200,000 people.
Both sides deny the allegations.
Contact email: edwin.musoni[at]newtimes.co.rw