• Election of Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma as Chairperson of the Africa Union (AU) Commission
I really feel happy and good that the position of chairpersonship of the African Union (AU) Commission has at last been taken over by a prominent citizen of the SADC region. It is, indeed, overdue that SADC plays its leading role in the structures of the continental body.
It is also and maybe more exciting that the personality who was elected is a woman. She needs and deserves not only our congratulations, but also support in whatever she is doing to make sure that she succeeds and makes a positive impact and contribution to African Unity.
Moreover, it is high time that the AU gets a leadership in place that will not only unite Africa, but also influence world politics through its proper, determined and able direction.
Dr Dlamini-Zuma having been in the government of South Africa for a considerably long period of time from the very beginning of the democratisation of South Africa until this moment, has gained very useful experience to spearhead the affairs of the continental body in the right direction.
As much as her task will not be so easy since she will be faced with negative resistance from those who did not want her to take the position and tried to block the way of her appointment for some time, now she needs united support, particularly from the SADC block of countries to effectively make her succeed. I can only wish her all the best in whatever she will be trying to achieve during the time she is going to be at the helm of the African Union (AU) Commission.
The only worry I am having in my mind is what many people do not know. During the negotiations for the integration of Walvis Bay into Namibia and the determination of the border of the Orange River between South Africa and Namibia for that border to be in the middle of the river instead of the southern banks of the river, there were two teams – one from South Africa, which was still under minority rule and one from independent Namibia.
The one which was negotiating for the re-integration of Walvis Bay, was under the leadership of Hon. Theo Ben Gurirab as Foreign Minister of Namibia. I was responsible for negotiating the legal aspects of that team as the Minister of Justice of Namibia, while Cobie Coetzee was representing South Africa as the Justice Minister of the then South Africa. We succeeded in bringing the negotiations to their logical conclusion during the time of the rule of the minority administration in South Africa and Walvis Bay was re-integrated with Namibia.
Dr Albert Kawana was in charge of the negotiations at the same time with the then South African authorities about the borders of the Orange River.
The negotiations to place the border in the middle of the river were then going on well and even demarcation work was being carried out successfully by the two sides. Unfortunately this work was not completed before the democratisation of South Africa.
When the new democratic government took over in South Africa Dr Dlamini-Zuma became the Foreign Minister of that country.
And I was present at the meeting in Windhoek where the South African delegation led by former president Mbeki and the Namibian delegation led by former president Sam Nujoma met.
Dlamini-Zuma at that meeting suggested that what had been achieved during the negotiations on the borders of the Orange River should be considered null and void and the border should remain on the southern side of the Orange River. I was shocked to say the least.
I tried to explain then that the process was at an advanced stage and it will not make sense to reverse the progress made so far.
Our president who then was Sam Nujoma invited Dr Kawana to come and brief the meeting about the issue. However, at the end of the meeting it was decided that the South African side must be given time to reflect on the issue and Thabo Mbeki left Namibia after his visit and the process was derailed until today.
While I did not then and do not now question the belief of our Foreign Minister at the time Hon. Theo Ben Gurirab that it was not only Hon. Dlamini–Zuma’s stand herself on the issue, but that of the new South African government as a whole, the mere fact that she was the one who raised the issue and spearheaded it makes me to believe that she might have been the one who convinced the others to derail the process. That issue is still troubling me when I think about Dlamini–Zuma.
That being as it may, I wish her all the best and she has my full support.