H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma is the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, elected to this position by the African Heads of State and Government in 2012.
She is the first woman in 50 years to lead the continental organization, including its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma was born in January 27, 1949 in KwaZulu-Natal.
She completed her high school studies at Amanzimtoti Training College in 1967. After a four-year gap, she started her studies in Zoology and Botany at the University of Zululand in 1971. She obtained her BSc degree and started her medical studies at the University of Natal, where her involvement with the struggle began.
Upon graduation in 1978, she became the House Officer, Surgery at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for two years, followed by another two-year stint at the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital in Berkshire.
During this time her steadfast commitment to the ANC saw her elected to the position of Vice Chairperson, Regional Political Committee, Great Britain between 1978 and 1988, and later became its Chairperson from 1988 – 1989. She also found time to complete a postgraduate Diploma in Tropical Child Health at the School of Tropical Medicine, University of Liverpool in 1986.
Dr Zuma was also 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 ex-husband, on 10 May 2009 a capacity in which she served until her resignation on 2 October 2012.
As a Minister, Dlamini Zuma was the only woman in the South African Bid Commitee led by President Thabo Mbeki, to Zurich Switzerland and included Nobel Peace Laureates Former President Nelson Mandela, Former President F W de Klerk and Archbishop Desmond Tutu where South Africa was awarded the right to host the most beautiful spectacle in the world – the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Working as part of the OAU collective, she has participated in a number of OAU delegations to help bring about peace, stability, development and prosperity to the African continent. She has also led a number of these initiatives, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Comoros and Lesotho can be mentioned.
Being elected to the position of AUC chairperson was a major achievement in the sense that for the first time since the formation of the Organisation for African Unity, which became the African Union, a woman and indeed a candidate of the southern region was successfully elected to this high post.
Dr. Dlamini Zuma is the recipient of a number of awards, including:
- The “Maître de l’Ordre National de la République du Mali” (2002); Peter the Great Award from the Russian Federation; the National Order of Luthuli in Gold from the Republic of South Africa (2013) and “Grand-Officier de l’Ordre National du Bénin” (2014).
- Honorary doctorates from Univ. of Natal (1995); Univ. of Bristol (1996); Univ. of Transkei (1997); Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA); Univ. of Rome (2013); Univ. of Fort Hare and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (2014).
- Honorary Professor of the Belarusian State University (2007).
- The Tobacco Free World Award, World Health Organization (1999); Women Who Make a Difference Award, Women In Film (2002); States Women of the Year Award, Black Business Quarterly Magazine(2004); Renaissance Women of the Year Award (2012); UN S-S Award for Global Leadership (2012); Chairs Award, Black Business Exec. Circle (2013); UN Women African Women’s Pioneers Award (2013); the African-America Institute Institutional Legacy Award 2013, STEM Awards -Boaneng and Institution and the African Bridge Builders Award from the US Diaspora African Forum (2014).
She has four daughters.