South Africa: 'Weak Leadership' to Blame for ANC Election Woes, Says Dlamini-Zuma

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at a press conference with the EC's president, Brussels, Belgium, April 22, 2015. Dlamini-Zuma has slammed the ANC for its poor performance in South Africa's local elections. JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

Weak leadership was to blame for the African National Congress's (ANC) poor performance in South Africa's local elections, according to the head of the African Union (AU) Commission.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, also the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, said that her colleagues at the AU had been contacting her to ask if things were "as bad as it looked" following the August 3 vote. The ANC registered less than 60 percent of the national vote for the first time in more than 20 years and lost its majority in major urban areas including Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and the capital Pretoria.

"If South Africa is weak and the leaders of South Africa are weak, the continent is weak, so we owe it to those women, president of South Africa and deputy president, that this country must be strong," said Dlamini-Zuma, according to South Africa's Times Live . The AU Commission chair was addressing Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, among others, at a Women's Day celebration in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Dlamini-Zuma formerly held several ministerial roles in the ANC, including the top foreign and domestic posts, before taking up her role at the AU in 2012. Her tenure is due to end in 2016 and she has been mooted as a possible successor to Zuma—her husband of 16 years before they divorced in 1988—as leader of the ANC.

The South African president has come under intense pressure in recent months following a series of scandals. The country's highest court ruled in March that Zuma had violated the constitution by ignoring a 2014 report by the public protector regarding the state-funded expansion of his property in Nkandla. South Africa's High Court also ruled in April that almost 800 corruption charges against Zuma, that were dropped in 2009, should be reinstated.

The recent elections yielded the ANC's worst results since the end of apartheid in 1994, with the opposition Democratic Alliance taking the lion's share of the vote in Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay. The results have left some of South Africa's most important localities in need of coalition government, with the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters assuming the role of kingmaker to give either the ANC or DA the majority they need to govern.