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Monday, July 30, 2012

South African Woman to Lead African Union

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Members of the African Union (AU) Commission may not shout, “All Hail the Queen” when they see Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma walk into a room, but they will give the lady their undivided attention, as she was elected on July 15 to serve as the new leader of the AU Commission — the first woman to hold the position.

South Africa’s Dlamini-Zuma, 63, was elected AU’s leader earlier this month, beating veteran incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon. Dlamini-Zuma has held cabinet positions in South Africa since 1994, when she was appointed health minister under Nelson Mandela. A pediatrician by trade, Dlamini-Zuma was appointed home affairs minister in 2009. Formerly married to South African President, Jacob Zuma (they were divorced in 1998), Dlamini-Zuma has a reputation that is distinct and separate from Zuma. Although the two are known to work together well as leaders, the new AU leader is known for her own brand of diplomatic and political savvy.

The goal of the AU, a pan-African organization made up of 54 member nations, is “to propel a united continent towards peace and prosperity."

During her acceptance speech the day after her election at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dlamini-Zuma said:

The future of our continent is inextricably linked with that of the rest of humanity, the world over. Africa must therefore take its rightful place among nations of the world as an equal reliable partner, and full member of the international community.

The new AU Commission leader has four years as leader of the organization to make her case.

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