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Implementation key for next AU Commissioner

Written by Bathandwa Mbola

International Relations

Outgoing African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has had a successful tenure.

With just one month until her tenure ends, AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has one gem of advice for her successor: implementation.

“It would help the continent if whoever comes [in as chairperson] continues with what has been done and agreed upon. The general priorities are there in terms of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the first 10-year plan.

“Some of the plans need to be achieved before others, such as the silencing of the guns, and then there is the skills revolution and infrastructure. Focus should be on implementation,” Dlamini Zuma told the media on the sidelines of the African Editors Forum held in Pretoria recently. 

Dlamini Zuma concludes her four-year tenure in January 2017.

When she took over the position in 2012, Dlamini Zuma boasted many firsts: the first woman to head the AU; the first head of the AU Commission from Southern Africa and the first head of the AU Commission with liberation credentials.

Under Dlamini Zuma, the AU launched the bolder and more ambitious plan for the next five decades, Agenda 2063, which is a strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development for Africa’s transformation.

The commission, under Dlamini Zuma’s guidance, has also been credited with organising exemplary summits and events that start on time with better agenda management for leaders. But there has been criticism from some quarters of what has been described as the AU “missing in action” on peace, security and governance issues faced by member states.

Asked to reflect on this, Dlamini Zuma said one cannot change the world in four years.

“In four years, I talked about education and investing in people. Although it was member states that had to implement this, I am happy that it is understood by everybody.

“I also talked about agriculture. I can say that in the four years, we have seen an increase in that. We talked about infrastructure, energy transport, intra-Africa trade, women and youth and active citizens - all of which are being implemented.”

Her proudest highlight, however, is the self-funding of the commission by the member states.

“We could not have an organisation funded by other people, who might have other agendas of their own. I’m very proud to say that a decision has been taken last year [for us to] fund our organisation.”

Last year, the leaders agreed to raise R15 billion a year to fund the AU Commission. They also adopted a new formula to charge 0.2 percent import duties to prop up the coffers as a way of minimising the reliance on external funding.