ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Lack of African Union?

South Africa's ambition to dominate Africa opens up deep divisions in the continent.

Africa has, in the recent past, emerged as one of the final frontiers of the global rush for commodities. Whether it is the traditional commodities like oil and copper or new minerals like coltan, whether it is rich agricultural land or biodiversity, Africa is again the centre of global attention. What is significant is that the “emerging powers” like China and India are also leading contenders in this new phase of the race for Africa, along with the older imperialist powers of Europe and North America. What is also different this time is that a few African countries have emerged to take on the mantle of “representing” Africa on the global stage. South Africa, the continent’s largest economy, is the pre-eminent power in Africa and its global presence is underlined by its membership of such bodies as the Group of 20 (G-20) and the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) forum.

As the scramble for African resources intensifies, South Africa wants to position itself as the guardian and safe-keeper of the continent’s interests. It was in line with this that they made a pitch to defeat Jean Ping of Gabon, the incumbent chair of the African Union Commission, the body which is the real power in the African Union (AU), mandated with “driving the African integration and development process”. However, in a loss of major significance, South Africa has failed in its efforts to get its nominee, veteran antiapartheid activist and present home minister of South Africa, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, elected to the post. What is even more telling is that the South African nominee’s votes kept falling in each of the four rounds of polling done to decide the winner. Jean Ping could not get the two-thirds majority he needed to continue, but he did get more support than Dlamini-Zuma.

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