Dlamini-Zuma Has Africa’s Future In Her Hands

Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma is a South African politician and former anti-apartheid activist.

She is the current Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

Before that, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma was South Africa’s Minister of Health from 1994 to 1999, under President Nelson Mandela, then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 17 June 1999 to 10 May 2009, under Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Molanthe.

She was moved to the position of Minister of Home Affairs in the Cabinet of President Jacob Zuma, her former-husband, on 10 May 2009 a capacity in which she served until her resignation on 2 October 2012.

On 15 July 2012, Dlamini-Zuma was elected by the African Union Commission as its chairperson, making her the first woman to lead the organization (including its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity). She took office on 15 October 2012.

Dlamini-Zuma, was born on 27 January 1949 in Natal, the eldest of eight children.

She completed high school at the Amanzimtoti Training College in 1967. In 1971, she started her studies in Zoology and Botany at the University of Zululand, from where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Science (BSc).

She subsequently started her medical studies at the University of Natal.

During her studies in the early 1970s, Dlamini-Zuma became an active underground member of the (then banned) African National Congress (ANC), a South African National Liberation Movement.

At the same time, she was also a member of the South African Students Organization and was elected as its deputy president in 1976.

During the same year Dlamini-Zuma fled into exile; she completed her medical studies at the University of Bristol in 1978. She subsequently worked as a doctor at the Mbabane Government Hospital in Swaziland.

In 1985 she returned to the United Kingdom in order to complete a diploma in tropical child health from Liverpool University’s School of Tropical Medicine.

After receiving her diploma, she worked for the ANC Regional Health Committee before accepting the position of director of the Health and Refugee Trust, a British non-governmental organization.

During the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations in 1992, Dlamini-Zuma was part of the Gender Advisory Committee.

After the first all-inclusive South African elections of 1994, she was appointed as Minister of Health in the cabinet of President Mandela.

During her tenure as Minister of Health she de-segregated the health
system and gave poor people access to free basic health-care.

Following the 1999 general election, Nelson Mandela retired as President and was replaced by Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki appointed Dlamini-Zuma as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

She was elected to the ANC’s 80-member National Executive Committee in December 2007 in 35th place, with 1,885 votes.

In the Jacob Zuma cabinet she served as Minister of Home Affairs.

In January 2012, Dlamini-Zuma sought to become the Chairperson of the African Union Commission by running against incumbent Jean Ping. In the first election, a deadlock in the voting as a consequence of an inability to secure a two-thirds majority of the vote meant that Ping’s term was extended by six months.

An election on 15 July at the nineteenth session of the Assembly of the African Union, however, resulted in Dlamini-Zuma being elected over Ping after three rounds of voting in which she got 37 votes, or 60%.

Prior to the vote, she also said that “I don’t think the continent will be polarized. The winner would make sure they work with everybody, irrespective of where and who they voted for,” after Chairman Thomas Boni Yayi warned of a divided union with undermined global credibility.

After the vote, Ping’s spokesman, Noureddine Mezni, said he “has
accepted the results of the elections and wishes Madame Dlamini-Zuma the very best…he expressed his readiness to co-operate with her to work
together for the unity of the continent.”

Other congratulatory messages came from AU Chairman and Beninese President Thomas Boni Yayi who said: “Now we have the African Union chair Madame Zuma, who will preside over the destiny of this institution.”

South African President Jacob Zuma said that her election “means a lot for Africa…for the continent, unity and the empowerment of women,” while Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that “she’s a freedom fighter, not a bureaucrat or a diplomat.”

Dlamini-Zuma has been awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees by both the University of Natal (1995) and the University of Bristol (1996).

She is also a Member of the African National Congress National Executive Committee and National Working Committee. She is also a Member of the African National Congress Women’s League National Executive Committee and the National Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa.

Other positions and leadership roles she has served in include Research Technician at the Durban Westville Medical School in KwaZulu-Natal, from 1971 – 1972; Vice-President of the South African Students Organisation from 1976 – 1976; Chairperson of the ANC Youth League in the United Kingdom from 1977 – 1978; House Officer at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, UK from 1978 – 1979; Vice-Chairperson of the Regional Political Committee of the ANC in the UK from 1978 – 1988.

Others include House Officer of the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital in Berkshire, UK from 1979 – 1980; Medical Officer at the Mbabane Government Hospital in Swaziland from 1980 – 1985; Paediatrician at the Whittington Hospital in the UK from 1987 – 1989; Director of the Health Refugee Trust  for the Health and Development Organization in the UK from 1988 – 1990; Chairperson of the Regional Political Committee for the ANC Regional Political Committee in the UK from 1988 – 1989.

Others are the House Officer of the Health Department for ANC in Lusaka, Zambia from 1989 – 1990; Board Member of the Centre for Social Development Studies for the UND from 1992 – 1992; Member of the  Steering Committee for the South African National Aids Co-ordinating Committee from 1992 – 1992; Chairperson of Southern KwaZulu-Natal Region for the ANC Women’s League from 1991 – 1993; Research Scientist at the Medical Research Council Durban from 1991 – 1994; Executive Committee Member of the Southern Natal Region for the ANC from 1990 – 1993.

Also, Deputy Chairperson of the  AIDS Board for the South African Permanent Mission 1995 – 1995; Chancellor at ML Sultan Technikon from 1996 – 1996; Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council for the African Union in 2004.
Her Achievements & Awards include the Order Of Luthuli Award In Gold in 2013, for her exceptional life’s work to the cause of freedom for the people of South Africa and the development and consolidation of our democracy in the quest to create a better life for all.

Also she won the Renaissance Woman of the Year Award  in 2012, Stateswomen of the year Award in 2004, BBQGrand Maitre de L’Orde National in 2002, Republic of Mali Tribute Achievers Award in 2002, Premium Award on NEPAD from Tribute Magazine, Tobacco Free World Award in 1999, World Health Organisation Women Who Make a Difference in 2002 and Honorary LLD’s from Bristol University.

Her community activism included Health Systems Trust Trustee from 1992 – 1992.


Source photo

English: South African Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma during bilateral meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, DC March 19, 2009.
Date 19 March 2009
Source Cropped from File:Secretary Clinton Meeting With South African Minister of Foreign Affairs.jpg, original source is http://www.flickr.com/photos/statephotos/3382666985/in/photostream/
Author Michael Gross/US Department of State


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