JOHANNESBURG, African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will address her first and final State of the Continent media briefing in Durban on Monday, a month before her four-year term ends, according to a report from the Cape Town-based African News Agency (ANA).

Despite being the first address of its kind in recent AU history, communication regarding the event has come through South African regional and provincial channels and from South Africa’s Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).

There is no notice of what would be deemed a major event on the AU website and the provincial government of kwaZulu-Natal has only received a request to host the event a couple of weeks ago.

It is not immediately known why KwaZulu-Natal was chosen as the venue, but as the African National Congress leadership battle gains pace Dlamini-Zuma is known to enjoy widespread support in the province.

She has made it known that she is available for election as ANC and South African President in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

Dlamini-Zuma’s tenure as AU Commission chairperson ended in July but was extended to January, when a new chairperson is to be voted in.

The ANA report quotes Ndabezinhle Sibiya, the spokesman for KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu, as saying that that heads of state are not expected at the briefing but that some senior officials will attend.

We are expecting ambassadors in the main and consuls-general from a couple of countries. We have also invited premiers from the other provinces, he said.

The Premier’s office was contacted by the AU secretariat a couple of weeks ago to ask if the event could be hosted in the province, he said.

This would be Dlamini-Zuma’s first state of the continent address. She has chaired the commission since October 2012.

Sibiya declined to comment on whether the event could be perceived as being a platform for Dlamini-Zuma to drum up support before next year’s ANC elective conference.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu, and eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede are expected to be present. All are known supporters of President Jacob Zuma, who is Dlamini-Zuma’s ex-husband.

The provincial and national ANC youth leagues have openly endorsed her for both positions of ANC and South African president.

While they have not publicly said so, the provincial ANC will likely also endorse Dlamini-Zuma for the positions; a move some pundits consider being a direct order from Zuma.

Dlamini-Zuma also enjoys support among ANC members in the provinces of Mpumalanga, the Free State, and North West. However, because of sheer voting numbers, KwaZulu-Natal is regarded as a kingmaker when it comes to decision-making within the movement.


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