Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma is the former 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).
A medical doctor, African freedom fighter and champion of African development and empowerment of women, Dr. Dlamini Zuma was born on 27 January 1949 in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. After completing high school at Amanzimtoti Training College in 1967, she embarked on studies in Zoology and Botany at the University of Zululand in 1971 and obtained a Bachelor degree. She commenced her medical studies at the University of Natal, where here involvement with the anti-apartheid struggle begun. She was forced into exile by the apartheid security apparatus in 1976 because of her activism.
Dr Dlamini Zuma continued her medical studies at the University of Bristol while simultaneously serving as the Chairperson of the African National Congress’ (ANC) Youth Section in Great Britain between 1977 and 1978. Upon graduation in 1979, 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 liberation of South Africa saw her elected to the position of Vice Chairperson of the ANC Regional Political Committee in Great Britain between 1978 and 1988, and later became its Chairperson from 1988 – 1989.
Between 1980 and 1985, Dr. Dlamini Zuma served as Paediatric Medical Officer at the Mbabane Government Hospital in Swaziland. She was deployed to the ANC’s Health Department in Lusaka, Zambia between 1989 and 1990.
When the ANC was unbanned in 1990, Dr. Dlamini Zuma returned from exile, playing an instrumental role in the building of all the ANC structures and ANCWL.
After the historic first democratic elections in 1994, Dr. Dlamini Zuma served as Minister of Health of South Africa in the first post-apartheid
cabinet of the late President Nelson Mandela from 1994 to 1999; Foreign Minister from 1999-2009 and Minister of Home Affairs from 2009, until her election to the AU Commission in 2012.
She was Deputy Chairperson of UNAIDS in 1995 and then became the chair of UNAIDS Board.
Minister Dlamini Zuma was the only woman in the South African 2010 Soccer Bid Committee 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. She was part of South Africa’s 2010 FIFA Organising Committee, which successfully hosted the first such event on African soil.
Her work in the African Union Commission focuses on the continental drive to ensure an Africa that is prosperous, integrated and peaceful. She is the founding Chairperson of the Council of the African Union Foundation, which is aimed at mobilizing resources for the African Union and promoting the programmes of the Union.
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 theJomo 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).