In my view, from Eritrea's perspective, the election of South Africa's Dlamini-Zuma as the AU Chief, replacing Gabon's Jean Ping, should be welcome news for three reasons: (1). South Africa is one of Eritrea's most important business partners in Africa. (2). As a large country and economy, it has enough strength to push back against the Great Powers agenda in Africa. (3). South Africa in general has a history of arguing against economic sanctions on African countries.
South Africa, as an established mining country, has gotten most of the lucrative mining contracts from companies that are active in Eritrea. Senet, South Africa's mining infrastructure company, has a big presence in Eritrea. In a sign of growing business ties between the two countries, Eritrean Airlines started flying to Cape Town from Asmara via Entebbe four times a week last May. The Goverment of Eritrea has paid for hundreds of Eritrean students to study at South African colleges over the past 15 years.
Although many were surprised to see South Africa vote for sanctions on Eritrea last December, since some expected it to join Russia and China and abstain, Dr. Mashabane (South Africa's Permanent Representative to the UN) was instrumental in diluting the sanctions during the negotiations.
It remains to be seen whether Dlamini-Zuma will show some independence or not, but for now this is a hopeful change at the helm.
Received on Mon Jul 16 2012 - 23:24:15 EDT