Skip to main content

She is more than just Zuma, her name is Dlamini-Zuma

The first woman we will celebrate in our series of phenomenal African women is Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.


Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
PHOTO CREDIT: Jacoline Prinsloo
On October 16 2012 South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma took over as head of the African Union Commission becoming the first woman chairperson of the continental body.  
A woman who essentially politically was always in the shadow of her former husband, the current South African President, President Jacob Zuma, her rise saw her growing to actually stand tall alone, shoulder to shoulder with the most powerful people in the world.

While gaining tertiary education in the medical field, Dr. Dlamini Zuma started her political career as an active underground member of the ANC.  She was also a member of the South African Students Organization and was elected as its deputy president in 1976. During the same year, she fled into exile, completing medical studies at the University of Bristol in the UK in 1978. 

After the 1994 elections, Dr. Dlamini Zuma was appointed as Minister of Health in the cabinet of then President Nelson Mandela. During her tenure, she de-segregated the health system and championed the radical health reforms which introduced access to free basic healthcare and also managed to pass the law that made public smoking illegal in South Africa.


Her road to Addis Ababa as AU’s top commissioner essentially began in 1999, when the then new South African President Thabo Mbeki appointed Dr. Dlamini Zuma as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this role, she actively championed South Africa’s foreign policy which centered on the promotion of human rights, stability, peace, collective development and advancement of this continent and was one of the essential players in the creation of the AU in 2002.

One of her greatest loses some political pundits have argued was her failed bid to become deputy President in 2007, losing to her ex-husband, Jacob Zuma by 5 provinces to 4. In hindsight with the way things have played out, she could have become South Africa’s and Southern Africa’s first elected woman President. Alas, she was in 2009 appointed Minister of Home Affairs before she got the top job at AU.

As the AUC chairperson, she has faced some of the greatest peace and governance challenges including the Ebola crisis, terrorist problems in West, North, Central and East Africa as well as embedding democracy into the African current political disposition. 
Prior to being elected to the AU Chair, when she was asked to comment on her aspirations for African youth, she said, “We know that Africa has the youngest population. We must ensure they are educated, healthy, and skilled, they can become a big force for change in terms of our economic development. We need to look at our natural resources – how do we beneficiate them, how they can be used for the benefit of our people on the continent.” Such a vision for the youth is enshrined in “Vision 2063” a vision spearheaded by Dlamini-Zuma of what she hopes Africa will be like in 48 years.

Dr. Dlamini-Zuma has done amazing things but it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly is her greatest achievement. If it were up to me, her greatest achievement isn’t any high political position, great policy or anything like that. Her ability to fully realize her potential in a generation that was extremely patriarchal, in an industry (politics) that is also male-dominated is the most impressive. The best thing is, when the 54 male African Presidents of Africa meet, they are all listening to the one woman in the room, and her name is Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma.

By Kudakwashe Manjonjo

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Call For African Youth Activists

What is an “Ignite Activist”? ­ An Ignite Activist is a high powered​ and ambitious young African individual. They are patriotic about their own country and the African continent as a whole. They are keen to speak out, share their opinions or experiences, and are always ready to defend the well-being of the African Youth! As vocal youth activists, they strive to not only lead the conversation on African Youth, but to ignite young Africans into Change-makers!
About Our Youth Activism Program ­ For a period of up to 6 months, corresponding youth activists will be engaged under the leadership and guidance of our International Panel. While there will be a formal set of activities, youth activists will have the liberty to call upon fellow members towards a particular cause, post and share articles or video messages to make themselves and their views heard! After 6 months of voluntary service, these members will be accorded with Alumni status and receive adequate recognition for their selfle…

Bisharo Ali Hussein (Somalia) - African Youth Role Model Series

Bisharo Ali Hussein is a Kenyan-Somali activist and outspoken champion for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Somalia. She channels her activism through her career as a Protection Officer for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Galkayo, Somalia and also served as an African Youth Activist of Ignite The Youth from 2015 to 2016. As an Ignite The Youth activist she shared on the youth experiences of conflict in her country and “Ensuring Access to Education for all”. Her most spirited campaigns however were part of her Women’s Rights agenda; which focused on demanding an end to Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage, and her advocacy for Gender Equality; arguing for gender-biased inheritance laws to change. Bisharo is currently pursuing her Postgraduate Diploma in ‘International Gender Studies’ at the University of Iceland.
Almost 2 years after serving as a corresponding activist for Ignite The Youth, Bisharo insists that Somali women remain one of the most vulnerable groups in…

The African Youth Commission [PROFILE]

"From Internet Community to One Governed by a Constitution"
The African Youth Commission (AYC) was founded in November 2013, as the African Union Youth Working Group (AUYWG), at a Youth Consultation on Agenda 2063 in Tunis,Tunisia. From 2013 to 2015 the AUYWG collaborated via an active mailing list, for the 2 years of online interaction the network invited numerous African Youth Leaders in the continent and diaspora. The working group later changed into a Commission as the cause of the network evolved by consensus to create a youth mirror to the African Union Commission. 
"The main objective of establishing the Commission is to organize all young people in Africa and Diaspora...to support the work of African youth, Youth structures (Pan African Youth Union & Youth Division of the African Union Commission) in their quest to effective service delivery and advocacy activities on the African Youth Charter..." - AYC
At this point the Commission proceeded to draft its o…