South Africa, SADC warn AU members over poll rulesBy BENON HERBERT OLUKA in Johannesburg | Saturday, July 14 2012 at 18:30
With the stakes sky high ahead of the election for the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, the South African government and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have issued a warning to the continental body to ensure strict adherence to the election rules.
A statement issued yesterday by the Office of the Presidency in South Africa says SADC, the regional body that is backing South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the AU top job, is happy with the electoral rules but has called for “sacrosanct adherence” to them in the Monday polls.
The polls pit Dr Dlamini-Zuma against incumbent Jean Ping in a re-run after failure to find a definitive winner in January.
“It is the view of the SADC that the current Rules of Procedure are fair and democratic in their application,” says the statement, which then warns, “Any deviation from or amendments to the rules, while the election process is still suspended or underway, will cast doubt on the integrity and validity of our election process, create a bad precedent and severely discredit AU continental democratic practises.”
In the same statement, which was signed by the Spokesperson for President Jacob Zuma, Mac Maharaj, SADC calls for regional rotation of the AU chairperson’s job. It argues that the top AU positions have over the years been monopolised by particular regions, contrary to the ideals of equitable regional representation and equality among AU member states.
“The only two regions of Africa that have never held the position of Secretary General of the OAU / Chairperson of the AU, in 49 years since the establishment of the OAU/AU, are the South and the North. Southern Africa is of the view, which it hopes that other African countries will also embrace, that it is of paramount importance that all regions in Africa are accorded the same treatment, privileges and rights and responsibilities when applying democratic practice within the Organisation,” says the statement.
SADC further believes its candidate is best suited for the job on the basis of her gender. The statement says since the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) 50 years ago and its transformation into the AU 10 years ago, the top position has never been occupied by a woman.
“Taking into account the importance of the AU Decade for Women, the African Heads of State and Government, who have already adopted the AU Gender Policy on Gender Parity in the AU Commission, would be sending a strong continental signal by appointing a woman of an exceptional calibre at the helm of the AUC during this significant period in its history,” argues the statement.
The statement further notes that SADC believes the AU has not been as effective as it should be and their candidate would provide the skills and competence required to transform it into “an efficient and effective” continental body.
“While many achievements can be recorded, the African Union Assembly has, in the past, taken many decisions and made several Declarations that, to date, have not been implemented. These include finding ways of ensuring that the decisions taken are respected and that rules are strictly adhered to. In light of this, and recognising that the Commission of the African Union is the main facilitator and coordinator of the continental development and integration agenda, the SADC is of the firm opinion that there is an urgent need to strengthen African unity, integration and transform its continental structures,” says the statement.
According to the statement, among the key issues that inform Dr Dlamini-Zuma’s strategic vision for the AU include consolidating the institution of the AU as a formidable, premier, Pan-African institution; ensuring that Africa’s developmental agenda is collectively advanced through integration, peace and security and conflict resolution; reiterating that NEPAD infrastructural development projects remain an important programme of the AU; implementing programmes aimed at supporting the AU Decade for Women (2010-2020); focusing development programs on the youth of Africa; and reiterating Africa’s continued advocacy for reform of the global governance architecture.
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