As Africans bid Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma goodbye after her four years service to the African Union (AU), leaders of the union have thrown their weight behind her bid to join the ANC presidential race.
As she steps down as head of the African Union Commission, a number of South Africans, particularly the women league of the African National Congress (ANC) look forward to seeing her take over from her ex-husband as president of South Africa.
For two decades Dlamini-Zuma has been the quiet juggernaut of South African politics. Tough, highly educated, competent, aloof, and most importantly, rarely out of a job. But after her four years service with the AU, she is poised to return home to run for the leadership of the governing ANC this December – a job that could, in turn, catapult her to the country’s presidency in the 2019 national elections.
The 67-year-old medical doctor served in the cabinets of all four of South Africa’s post-apartheid presidents – demonstrating an instinct for political survival and a capacity for endurance shared by few of her colleagues.
Her absence from the country in the past few years, is largely argued to have been deliberately planned to her advantage – leaving her untainted by the scandals and power struggles that have damaged other prominent figures now challenging her for the top job.
The president, Jacob Zuma is insinuated to have endorsed her following his assertion that he wouldn’t be vying for a third term and, that the ANC is ready for a woman President.
This came after ANC Women’s League announced their plans to fight for a female president come 2019 general elections.
“After careful consideration and opening our eyes as wide as possible, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the only suitable candidate,” the Women’s League said in a statement.
“Her legacy and influence is known and well documented throughout the history pages of the republic and beyond,” ANCWL noted.
Dlamini-Zuma would be battling it out with Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa in the ANC presidential race even as Chad Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat was elected to succeed her as AU Commission chair.
Meanwhile, in her farewell speech to the AU leaders at the AU summit concluded on Tuesday, Dlamini-Zuma hinted that she wanted to continue her work on the continent, saying she would “remain a soldier for the African cause”.
She extended her praises to outgoing Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for being the very first elected woman president on the continent, and also as the chair of the Economic Community of West African States.
She also urged that Africa should never allow themselves to be divided by anyone, or by anything”, and the continent should take common positions in world meetings about issues.
“For my part, wherever I shall be and in whatever capacity, I shall forever remain a soldier for the African cause.” She concluded:
Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo, in turn, praised the work she did for women and on gender, and said she could become the second elected female president on the continent should she win the ANC presidential race and should South Africans vote for her in 2019.