Mac Maharaj

Next Week’s African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will be watched with keen interest for a variety of reasons, key among 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 chair of the AU Commission.

Southern Africa has taken a conscious decision to nominate a Southern African region candidate who has the required skills and competence to lead the AU Commission. The region is driven by the objective of transforming the African Union into an efficient and effective continental body.

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 among AU member states.

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 AU. In this regard, no region can unilaterally set the agenda, tone and strategic direction of the organisation. This process facilitates inputs to be made by all regions of Africa.

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, among 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 co-operation on human rights; continental peace, security and stability; democratic practice and good governance.

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.

The activities to be embarked upon by Dr Dlamini Zuma, once elected as chair, 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: (1) consolidating the institution of the AU as a formidable, premier, Pan-African institution; (2) ensuring that Africa’s developmental agenda is collectively advanced through integration, peace and security and conflict resolution; (3) reiterating that Nepad infrastructural development projects remain an important programme of the AU; (4) implementing programmes aimed at supporting the AU Decade for Women (2010-2020); (5) focusing development programmes on the youth of Africa; and (6) reiterating Africa’s continued advocacy for reform of the global governance architecture.

l Mac Maharaj is spokesman for President Jacob Zuma