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Good riddance, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma

Times Live

Whether it was the Ebola outbreak, drowning of African refugees in the Mediterranean, famines, the return of the god-President, the International Criminal Court or popular uprisings by young people demanding revolutionary change, the out-going Chairperson of the African Union Commission failed Africa. Her successor must be someone who understands, cares about and has a vision for the continent and its people.

In April 2016, Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma announced that she had decided to return to South Africa rather than run for a second term as the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU). For close observers this did not really come as a surprise as she appeared to spend less time on the institution than she did navigating the entrails of South Africa’s politics.  Ahead of her announcement, the Mail and Guardian reported on 29 March that Dlamini-Zuma was “likely to return to South Africa to run for a top ANC leadership position, possibly for president to succeed her ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma.”[1] Dlamini-Zuma is a leading member of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) and was for 16 years spouse of the incumbent President. Their divorce was reportedly formalized in 1982.

Later this month in Kigali, Rwanda, the Summit of the Heads of State and Governments of the AU will elect a successor to Dr. Dlamini-Zuma. As they prepare to do that, it is appropriate to look back at her tenure so that the institution avoids the kind of errors that made it such a lamentable misadventure.

It did not have to be so. A trained paediatrician, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma arrived at the African Union on the back of a stellar public service and political career in South Africa where she served four successive presidents, including Nelson Mandela, as minister responsible for health, foreign affairs, and home affairs.

When she arrived in Addis Ababa to assume office as the Chairperson of the AU Commission in October 2012, many believed that Dr. Dlamini-Zuma would usher in a brave new era in the history of the institution. She boasted many firsts: the first woman to head the AU; the first head of the AU from southern Africa and the first head of the AU with liberation credentials. In the end, she will be remembered for another first: the first head of the AU to leave as an utter failure. Her biggest legacy will probably be her eponymous Twitter handle, mostly famous for its preoccupation with fatuous nonsense.

On 9 June 2016, Le Monde Afrique ran an article asking in effect: “How Did Mrs Zuma Mess Up (the AU)?”[2], asserting that her tenure was characterized by a lack of vision and silence that “accelerated the decline of the AU.” All these failings were willful, not inadvertent

When Dr. Dlamini-Zuma began her tenure in 2012, the AU confronted significant challenges in the spheres of peace, security and governance in Africa, as well as institutional reform and social affairs. Like T.S. Eliot’s Macavity, she looked “outwardly respectable.” Like Macavity also, she was just “not there.”

As she arrived, South Sudan was wrestling with a transition to stable independence that threatened to get quite bloody. On the governance front, accountable government in Africa confronted growing authoritarianism with far reaching implications for peace and security in many parts of the continent. Accountability for grave crimes by Africa’s leaders faced frustration in Kenya and Sudan. Institutionally, many countries were in arrears of their dues and the AU was increasingly dependent on foreign governments and donors for its running.

During her tenure, Africa confronted multiple social challenges: Ebola in West Africa; Yellow Fever in parts of Southern Africa; climate change and food security around the Sahel and Horn of Africa, as well as an international migration crisis.

On each and all of these challenges, Dr Dlamini-Zuma was out to lunch or blissfully missing in action. Take South Sudan, for instance. Under the watch of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, South Sudan descended into fratricide. Following a lead provided by anyone but her, the AU constituted a Commission of Inquiry chaired by Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, which reported in early 2015 recommending a mix of measures, including judicial accountability. Thereafter, the report went cold. Under her watch, the relationship of the AU and the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose Prosecutor is another daughter of Africa – The Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda – collapsed.

At the Summit that elected her as Chair of the AU Commission in 2012, a High Level Panel on alternative funding for the AU again chaired by former President Obasanjo had reported that “the current system of statutory contributions, which had been in place since the OAU days, has been deemed to no longer be adequate to meet the growing financing needs of the Union due to greater operational requirements and increased scope of activities”. As she leaves, this report decorates the shelves of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma’s $200 million AU palace, constructed and donated by the Chinese. Her lasting legacy is that civil society will be excluded from the AU summit that elects her successor.

Under the watch of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, the continent was allowed to squander the energies released by popular uprisings against authoritarianism. When Egypt’s army set upon young people whose only crime was to dare to dream and organize for a country in freedom in 2013, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma lost her voice.

Under her watch, the god-President returned. In Congo-Brazzaville, Chad, Rwanda and Uganda, elected presidents tore up the constitutions under which they were elected and installed themselves gods. In Burundi, where another president’s desire for god-Presidency turned murderous, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma conveniently outsourced her responsibilities and disappeared. Her dereliction on governance now threatens the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the desire of the incumbent president for god-Presidency meets a country unwilling to accept man as god.

In Burkina Faso where the people managed to topple their presidential serial killer, Blaise Compaore, after 27 years of repressive power, it was in spite of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma’s complicit abdication not because of her leadership.

It was in social affairs, however, that the extent of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma’s dereliction would confound even her few most ardent admirers. As a trained medical professional, many credited her with the qualifications to care when Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) came calling in February 2014. Characteristically, however, she managed to abdicate on that too.

While EVD held sway in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma avoided those countries. By contrast, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, her counterpart at the African Development Bank (AfDB) took to the road to visit the affected countries, raise resources and compel the world to act. While Dr. Kaberuka showed his mettle in this most difficult of situations, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma was missing conspicuously.

Under Dr. Dlamini-Zuma’s watch, thousands of Africans drowned crossing the Mediterranean into Europe. Many more Africans have been slaughtered by the extremist violence of Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). They are uncounted, unknown, unnamed and un-mourned. To their murder, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma offered neither compassion nor counterpoise. Under her, the African life could well be worthless.

Two years after she was elected to Chairperson of the AU, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma allowed her ex-husband to put her name forward on the ANC’s list for the 2014 general election in South Africa. It therefore became evident that for her, Addis Ababa was, from the start, a place to cool her heels, preserve herself and prepare to collect South Africa’s highest political prize like a promised alimony settlement.

In one word, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma didn’t know Africa and only cared about her ambitions back home. She just didn’t care about the African.

When Africa’s Heads of State meet later this July in Kigali to elect the next Chairperson of the AU Commission, they should draw a line under the misadventure that has been Dr. Dlamini-Zuma’s tenure. Candidates should be required to present a coherent vision of the Africa they wish to lead and demonstrate an interest in the continent and its peoples. A debate among the leading candidates would be worthwhile. Politicians, like Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, in pursuit of other distractions, should be told they are surplus to requirements. The AU should look for someone who knows the continent and cares about its people.

As Dr. Dlamini-Zuma slinks back to the deepening sleaze that threatens to unravel her march to the prize in South Africa that she treasures above the lives of ordinary Africans, many will be forgiven for screaming: good riddance, Mrs. Dlamini-Zuma….!

* Chidi Anselm Odinkalu is Former Chair, National Human Rights Commission, Nigeria. The views expressed here are personal.



[2] « Comment Madame Dlamini-Zuma a plombé l’Union Africaine », available at :



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Comments (10)

  • Lefamotloung's picture


    For Africa to rise and realise it's vision, such a responsibility can not be in the hands of one individual. All challenges mentioned were there before her, and they will continue so long as we take a passive attitude and be quick on finding fault. We all have to be ready ti pull in the same direction; not leaders who put their interest ahead of others. Only then we can create a better Africa for all.


    Jul 08, 2016
  • kgamphes's picture

Global Partners Discuss Key Data and the Future of U.S.-Africa's SMES

18 July 2016
Content from our Premium Partner

FEEEDS Initiative (Washington, DC)

Global Partners Discuss Key Data and the Future of U.S.-Africa's SMES


Ahead of President Obama's second U.S.-Africa Business Forum planned for New York on September 21, 2016, the FEEEDS Initiative —Food Security, Education, Environment-Energy, Economics, Democracy-Development and Self-help— in partnership with GALLUP, hosted the third annual forum on Africa in Washington, D.C. to discuss the importance and impact of Africa Diaspora small and medium size Enterprises (SMES) in the development of the Continent. Managing Partner, Gallup, Jon Clifton, introduced the featured special guest, Catherine Byrne, President Obama's Special Assistant and Senior Director for African Affairs at the White House.

Other speakers included Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Deputy Director of the Africa Office at the U.S. Department of Commerce; Leila Ndiaye, Africa Policy Director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Rahama Wright, member President's Doing Business in Africa Council (PAC-DBIA) & CEO-Shea Yeleen, with CEO, Reed Kramer, as moderator.

The hosts for the Africa Diaspora SME Business Forum were Jon Clifton, Managing Partner, GALLUP, and Ambassador Robin Sanders, CEO-FEEEDS. and GB Group Global led by Dr. Gloria Herndon were this year's featured partners. This is the third year has been the media partner and the first that GB Group Global participated.

In her opening remarks, Ambassador Sanders said the FEEEDS-GALLUP Africa Diaspora SME Business Forum represents an important step forward for high-level meetings in sharing practical and useful information to Africa SMEs, the state of the current U.S.-Africa business relationship, and Gallup's important data of the state of the Sub-Saharan Africa Region.  "It also provides for a unique platform to highlight the role that Africa Diaspora SMEs are playing in the region's economic development, GDP growth, and spurring the middle class," Sanders said.

In her speech, President Obama's Special Assistant for Africa, Catherine Byrne, noted that despite huge security challenges, democracy and business growth have taken root in Africa and "there is progress."  She said progress can be seen in several countries in Africa including places such as Zambia and Nigeria where exemplary general elections were held with winners and losers embracing peace not violence.  She said the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum planned for New York in September 21, 2016 will solidify the Obama Administration's effort to not only increase US-Africa business ties, but strengthen the US-Africa relationship.

Byrne identified some of the economic policies that have achieved results in Africa as the Security Governance and Trade Africa Initiatives, Power Africa, FEED the Future program, The Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI), the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, assistance setting up an Africa-like Center for Disease Control (which is already underway as a result of the Ebola outbreak), the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), efforts to fight corruption, and the extensions of the  African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for another 10 years – all will be part of President Obama's Africa legacy. She highlighted these examples that we can all build on in response to questions about: what has been achieved; where is the US-Africa relationship going, and, what was next in the relationship.

Global Partners Discuss Key Data and Future of U.S.-Africa's SMEs

Global Partners Discuss Key Data and Future of U.S.-Africa's SMEs

Ahead of President Obama's second U.S.-Africa Business Forum planned for New York on September 21, 2016, the FEEEDS Initiative -Food Security, Education, Environment-Energy, Economics, Democracy-Development and Self-help- in partnership with GALLUP, hosted the third annual forum on Africa in Washington, D.C. on July 14 to discuss the importance and impact of Africa Diaspora small and medium size Enterprises (SMES) in the development of the Continent.

The Africa Diaspora SME business forum had two sessions.  The first session, moderated by's CEO Reed Kramer, had Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Leila Ndiaye and Rahama Wright.  The panel discussed Africa's current investment opportunities, key sectors for SME participation, the role of President Obama's PAC-DBIA, and his upcoming U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York.  The panel also discussed key business sectors for Africa diaspora SMEs.


The second session was the "Lightening Round" as it was focused on highlighting Gallup's key data on Africa, and U.S. Government programs where SMEs can obtain assistance, funding, loans, grants and advice. Lead speakers were Ngozi Bell of U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), Gallup's Magali Rheault, director of the Africa Research Division, and Nicholas Bassey, director of USAID's Frontier Partnership Office. The highlight of Ms. Rheault's presentation was the data showing that African citizens in the countries polled were pleased with their leaders elected in 2015, and that most nationals preferred to work in the private versus government sector.  One of  the main takeaways messages of SBA and USAID was that Africa Diaspora businesses should seek to take more advantage of the range of services, programs, and assistance  that are available to them (see FEEEDS's cloud for slide presentations:

The event was attended by 200 Africa Diaspora SMEs or organizations, African Embassy representatives (Kenya, Botswana, Rwanda, Cape Verde, Sao Tome & Principe, etc.) and U.S. government officials.  The take away for most of the audience was the ability and access to expert speakers, information, and the technical assistance opportunities.
About the hosts and partners:

FEEEDS® mostly works in Africa and with Diaspora groups and businesses working on economic development issues, and on the advising arm of the firm called, FE3DS.llC, has clients in the power, housing, and technology sectors. FEEEDS publishes @the FEEEDS Index, powered by Gallup Analytics®. See: 

Gallup is one of the world's leading data, research, and polling private sector firms headquartered in the United States. It provides data-driven news based on U.S. and world polls, daily tracking and public opinion research.See;

AllAfrica is the leading online platform for daily news and analysis on all issues related to Africa. It has feature stories and pages that can be an asset to any business looking to further expand its news and reach across the Continent. See

GB Group Global is a dynamic international firm, led by Dr. Gloria Herndon, which works in several sectors from energy to extractive industries to pharmaceuticals, as well as provides consulting and other services. See

Owusu Bempah 'arrested' for threatening to 'kill' a man of God

Information reaching has it that, the founder, leader and General Overseer of the Glorious Word Ministry, Rev. Owusu Bempah, has been invited by the Police CID for questioning for allegedly threatening another man of God.

The man of God reportedly threatened to cut short the life of Pastor Appiah both spiritually and physically.

An audio recording intercepted by, has the voice of the controversial man of God, threatening Pastor Appiah that, ‘’this year you [Appiah] will not survive. Are you listening to me? I am speaking as a prophet of God. You will die a premature death.’’

Pastor Appiah in reaction questioned why he was going to die a premature death. Pastor Appiah quizzed why Rev. Bempah threatened to deal with him physically and expressed his anger at him.

He said, ‘’Rev. Bempah, I respect you but you are provoking me. I want to stress that, nobody can kill me. Nobody can kill me.’’

The two later engaged in a heated exchanges and traded verbal blows. Pastor Appiah said, ''You will hear from me after threatening my life.''

Agya Koo slams Peace FM’s Kwasi Aboagye for criticising his TV station

Popular Ghanaian actor, Alexander Kofi Adu, popularly known as Agya Koo has chided radio presenter, Kwasi Aboagye over his comments on his yet-to-be-launched television channel which is being supported by the government.

The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Catherine Afeku at a Press Meeting held on Monday, January 29 in Accra, announced the launch of Agya Koo and Daddy Lumba TV, which she said would be part of efforts to promote local content on television.

The announcement of the initiative, however, met heavy criticisms from many entertainers including the host of Peace FM’s Entertainment Review, Kwasi Aboagye, who reportedly said the idea was “nonsense”.

But speaking to Agyemang Prempeh (Agyengo) on Power Entertainment in Power 97.9FM Saturday evening, Agya Koo did not take it lightly with his critics, saying they envy his success in the entertainment industry.

The irked actor went for Kwasi Aboagye’s jugular over his comments and alleged that the broadcaster hates him for his successes over the years.

“Did he want the government to launch Kwasi Aboagye TV for him? He works at UTV, I’m doing my own so what’s his problem? Let me state that he does not like me and it didn’t start recently. If he’s brave he should go and stop the project. He should not be on radio and insult me. He’s just jealous. I started my career before him. Who’s Kwasi Aboagye to criticise the idea? Is he sensible than the Minister or is he sensible than I am? if he’s smart as he claims, he should go and stop the project,” Agya Koo fumed.

The Kumawood actor said Mr Aboagye’s comments were out of envy and his conspicuous penchant to suppress the success of Agya Koo TV.

Explaining the motive behind the move, Agya Koo stated the TV, which shows some of his old comic performances, had started airing on mobile phones and is being enjoyed and patronised by many in the country and abroad.

“Some of my old works are on the TV which is being piloted on mobile phones for now until we officially launch it,” said the comedian who disclosed his commitment to the success of the project.

He said Agya Koo TV is part of is his contribution to the promotion of local content in the Ghanaian media space, therefore he has no time for detractors like Kwasi Aboagye.

But in a sharp rebuttal on the show, Kwasi Aboagye denied attacking Agya Koo. He confirmed criticising the idea to create a government-funded television station for Agya Koo and Hi-life musician Daddy Lumba on Entertainment Review on peace FM last Thursday. To him, there was “no sense” in the idea Madam Catherine Afeku announced.

“I spoke Twi and not English. I did not use ‘foolish’ in my submission. I made that comment as an opinion and said it did not make any sense to launch a TV for the two. I said the two campaigned for the NPP and so I did not see any progress Agya Koo TV and Daddy Lumba TV will make to the industry except for their individual gains,” he said.

Apart from the Radio presenter, Renowned entertainment critic and artiste manager, Lawrence Nana Asiamah Hanson otherwise known as Bulldog, also kicked against the idea and said the Tourism ministry wanted to reward the two (Agya Koo and Daddy Lumba) for their contribution to the fortunes of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2016 elections.

Describing the idea as “unfair” on Accra-based Hitz FM, Bulldog said “We have Kumawood so why won’t you create Kumawood TV? We pride ourselves in highlife so why not highlife and hip-life TV? I don’t understand where these ideas are coming from. They have shown us that there is reward in supporting political parties. . . Why won’t you say Ghanaian Music TV and Ghanaian Movie TV? So, now Agya Koo is the icon of movies? Where are the people who came before Lumba? Do you expect Kojo Antwi to go on Daddy Lumba TV? It is sad. And this is the mother speaking. Tourism TV makes sense but for Agya

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