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African Union (AU) chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has reacted strongly to allegations that she has abandoned her official AU responsibilities to focus on ANC business leading up to the May 7 elections.
Speaking while campaigning in Clermont in Durban on Tuesday, she responded to an article in the France-based magazine, Jeune Afrique, which called for her to step down, saying it did not deserve a response.
The article said that Dlamini-Zuma - who had been seen by some as a potential successor to President Jacob Zuma - had instead of doing her job at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia, been spending most of her time in South Africa doing work for the ANC.
However, Dlamini-Zuma said the magazine had got it all wrong. “It is the first time I have participated in the campaign, as I have been away.
“I’m a member of the ANC; I’m a member of the national executive of the ANC; but I’m doing my work at the AU. When last did you see me here (in South Africa)?”
She also accused France of having an agenda against her being the head of the continental body.
“It would be understandable if such concerns had been raised by African countries. If you say France says I must not come to South Africa, it does not deserve a response; you cannot dignify that with a response,” she said.
The Mail and Guardian reported earlier this month that a group of ANC members had been lobbying for Dlamini-Zuma to succeed her former husband when his second term comes to an end.
Dlamini-Zuma is number 150 on the party list of people who could potentially go to Parliament after the elections.
However, she said she had no ambitions of returning to Parliament or the government. The ANC has previously said that she would keep her continental job.
“I will continue with the responsibility that the AU has given to me. I’m going back to Ethiopia,” she said.
Jeune Afrique also called for Dlamini-Zuma not to be allowed a second term when her term ends in 2016. It has been said that through her, South Africa has dominated the AU, and swamped the organisation with administration staff from her country.
Siphamandla Zondi, a director of the Institute for Global Dialogue, accused Jeune Afrique of pushing France’s agenda against Dlamini-Zuma and South Africa.
He said France’s eagerness to influence the AU could not be achieved because Dlamini-Zuma had demonstrated independence from European and American influence.
“I wonder if this magazine is raising this concern because it has the interest of the AU at heart, or they are picking a fight with South Africa because they have no control over it (South Africa)?” he asked.
As far as he could remember, Dlamini-Zuma had not been active in the campaign.
“I’m hearing for the first time that she has been involved in the ANC campaign.
“She might have taken one day off because it’s the AU’s off season,” he said.