In Summary

  • The ceremony took place when the continent is convulsed in the throes of crises, including drought, epidemics and other catastrophes like the cyclone that hit Madagascar recently.

  • Mahamat, who was elected Dlamini-Zuma’s successor on January 30, is taking over the stewardship of the AU when Africa needs effective leaders and not mere rulers.

Tuesday afternoon saw South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma hand over the chairmanship of the African Union (AU) Commission to Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad.

The ceremony took place when the continent is convulsed in the throes of crisis, including drought, epidemics and other catastrophes like the cyclone that hit Madagascar recently.

Mahamat, who was elected Dlamini-Zuma’s successor on January 30, is taking over the stewardship of the AU when Africa needs effective leaders and not mere rulers.

His predecessor, who made history as the first woman to lead the 54-member bloc, also made the unusual move of declining to seek a second term in office after completing a four-year tenure.

An extremely ambitious politician, Dlamini-Zuma is reportedly training her sights on the presidency of the ruling African National Congress party, which will be decided at a conference in December, and eventually South Africa’s presidency.

Should she clinch the South African presidency in 2019, Dlamini-Zuma would be taking over from former husband Jacob Zuma, a development that will see the launch of the continent’s latest political dynasty.

Impressively, Dlamini-Zuma, a medical doctor, is in her own right a veteran of the South African political scene, having held three Cabinet posts under three presidents.

HER APPOINTMENT

She headed the ministries of health, foreign affairs and home affairs under presidents Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma before heading to Addis Ababa to take up the AU Commission leadership.

Given Dlamini-Zuma’s vast governance experience, it is not surprising that there is already talk of her appointment to the Cabinet soon.

Mahmat, the 56-year-old father of five, certainly has his work cut out for him.

During Tuesday’s ceremony, he was quick to spell out his agenda, which includes addressing challenges posed by migration, climate change and poverty.

His other priorities, he said, would be to eliminate Africa’s conflicts “by silencing the guns by 2020, while promoting peace”.

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