South Africa Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the new head of the African Union Commission. She became the first female to chair the … ( Resource: South Africa to Lead African Union

As the dust settles in Addis, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma won’t have much time to celebrate. There’s a continent to fix, after all. SIMON ALLISON runs through the issues that need the most urgent attention.

Bridging diplomatic divides

For better or worse – and the policy has always had its critics – the African Union, and the Organisation of African Unity which came before it, were both always based on the idea of consensus. Votes were for people who couldn’t talk things through and reach a mutually beneficial agreement. While often completely impractical, this utopian vision helped forge those warm and fuzzy feelings of pan-Africanism and unity; sentiments which characterise much of the body’s rhetoric.

But Dlamini-Zuma can forget about consensus for the time being. This toxic leadership battle has laid bare the continent’s divisions. No, it’s nothing to do with Francophone v. Anglophone; South Africa’s key opponents were Kenya, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, all of whom are nominally in the Anglophone camp. Instead, it’s geographic – and all about proximity to South Africa. We have a sphere of influence across the continent, one that extends over our borders as far up as Angola and Tanzania; beyond that, however, South Africa has now lost almost all of its political capital. And the hostility generated by the aggressive approach of both sides means that arguments over the continent’s future are likely to be contested, probably with a bitterness rarely seen in Addis Ababa before this year. Someone is going to have to calm tensions and bridge these divisions. Unfortunately, that someone was part of the problem to begin with, and it will take all of Dlamini-Zuma’s diplomatic powers to restore some semblance of unity to the continental body. Read more…