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Dlamini-Zuma delivers 'state of the continent' address

Subry Govender
December 19, 2016

The chairperson of the African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, declared that the AU had succeeded over the past four years to promote democracy in Africa. However, instability continues to plague several countries.

Image: Getty Images/AFP/F. Monteforte

AU Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is to step down at the end of next month, delivered her first and only "state of continent” address in the South African coastal city of Durban on Monday. Dlamini-Zuma, who is the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, is scheduled to contest the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and most likely run for the presidency of the country when Zuma steps down in 2019.

Her address was attended by a number of African ambassadors, consul generals and senior leaders of the AU. The occasion was hosted by the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal, Dlamini-Zuma's home province.

Dlamini-Zuma und Jacob Zuma
Dlamini-Zuma is looking to take over the reins of South Africa from her ex-husband President Jacob ZumaImage: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Prinsloo

Her address offered more details about the African Union's Agenda 2063, the continental body's vision to develop the African continent making it prosperous and united based on shared values and a common destiny.

Migration and education

In this regard, Dlamini-Zuma emphasized that the action plan will focus on skills development, higher education for all, an emphasis on educating girls, inter-continental trade, the development of ICT infrastructure as well as banking projects and agriculture.

She also said that the AU is encouraging the free movement of the nearly one billion people in Africa.

"When we look at continental-free movement of people, a decision has been made that countries must grant a 30-day visa at the port of entry for all Africans. Some countries are saying that they are still putting mechanisms in place to implement. Hopefully more and more countries will follow," she said.

Dlamini-Zuma also said that the AU was leading the way in stimulating skills development and education among 200 universities across the African continent. The AU sees education for all and education for girls were seen as being vital for the continued development of the African continent.

"[We are working with the] universities in trying to improve harmonization whether in teacher education, mechanical engineering, agriculture, civil engineering, economics, geology, higher education and many others," she said.

Political legacy

Dlamini-Zuma was bestowed with a humanitarian award by the South African Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi during the ceremony.

"There have been a number of challenges but I think she has been able to weather the storm in terms of bringing political stability in a number of African countries," political scientist Dr Bheki Mngomezulu told DW in an interview.

But Dlamini Zuma's legacy as AU chairperson could be tainted by the civil war in South Sudan which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, the political crises in Burundi, DRC, CAR and most recently in Gambia. In most of of these conflicts, the AU has not been successful in finding a lasting solution.

Despite the setbacks, Dlamini-Zuma is hoping to involve herself fully in South Africa's leadership when she leaves the AU office at the end of January and is seeking to succeed President Jacob Zuma as not only the president of the country but also as leader of the ruling ANC.