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Big Task Awaits New African Union Leader
By Benson Kamary
Associate Editor & Writer
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

News from Addis-Ababa, the headquarters of African Union has now come with finality — South African Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been elected the leader of AU Commission, Africa’s 54-member bloc.

Ms. Dlamini-Zuma becomes the first woman to hold the post after a hotly contested election in which as pundits pointed out, had begun exhibiting rivalry between Francophone and Anglophone Africa. The incumbent Jean Ping, an African-Chinese, hails from Gabon which is a French peaking nation.

The election outcome in favor of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former Anti-Apartheid activist now puts to rest the fear that of leadership uncertainty threatened to overshadow continent’s important issues including security, famine and trade. In January the two contenders failed garner the required minimum votes of 60 percent to clinch victory.

While many African nations welcome the changes at the helm of AU commission, the decision to pass the mantle to one of Africa’s powerful nations, against the tradition, may linger for a while. Perhaps Ms. Dlamini-Zuma’s homework includes developing genuine trust in dealing with smaller nations. South Africa is the only nation from Africa in the G-20.

Optimistically with her extensive experience as longest-serving ministers, the new leader is expected to bring fresh tact to change how Africa deals with her challenges (including friends and foes) and forge toward the much expected “rise of Africa”.

On security challenges, mounting violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the quest for lasting peace in Somalia and a delicate peace between the Sudans remains obviously urgent. Others are violence in Nigeria and the ongoing instability in Mali. Similarly lack human rights and justice and impunity still entangles some member countries.

There is more. The continuous allegation of “external powers” trying to “perpetuate their influence” in Africa requires some attention. Interestingly, the rise of China and its increased presence in Africa has seemingly caused uneasiness within some Western powers which have had lengthy influence since colonization.

Several African countries have sought Asian economic partners. Just last month Korean Air launched the first direct flight from Seoul to Nairobi opening up East and Central Africa region to East Asia.

Other items on AU’s agenda include trade at a time when the continent focuses on boosting intra African trade. In the recent days more oil has been discovered in the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda opening up investment opportunities.

So, as Ms. Dlamini-Zuma relocates to Commissions headquarters, a $200m high-rise centre built and donated by the Chinese government, it is the aspiration of Africans that a new dawn will emerge.

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Benson Kamary, professor of Tongmyong University in Pusan, serves as an Associate Editor & Writer for The Seoul Times. Based in Busan, South Korea, the Kenyan professor also serves as chairman of Kenya Community in Korea (KCK). He can be reached at






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