Malawi’s Head of State Joyce Banda has hailed African men “for creating space” by way of discouraging and removing gender barriers to enable women occupy important decision-making and leadership positions in society.
She said this on Monday when she met in audience Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma at Southern Sun Hotel, Pretoria in the Republic of South Africa.
President Banda observed the continent now has two female Heads of State and a newly-elected Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Dr. Dlamini-Zuma. Banda is the first female President in Malawi and Southern Africa and the second in Africa after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
President Banda’s press aide, Tusekele Mwanyongo, confirmed the Malawian Head of State met Dr. Dlamini-Zuma “for slightly over an hour” where the two leaders discussed various issues affecting the continent ranging from politics and governance, civil conflicts, poverty, trade and investment as well as the empowerment of women and marginalized groups, among others.
“The President took the opportunity to congratulate Madame Dr. Dlamini-Zuma on her recent election as the African Union Commission Chairperson,” the presidential aide said.
Mwanyongo said President Banda noted that while many parts of the world are struggling to uplift women and put them into top leadership, “Africa has made positive strides to that effect” and that she was extremely excited Dlamini-Zuma had been elected to head the largest continental body.
“Dr. Dlamini Zuma and I go a long way; at one time, we were privileged to serve as Foreign Affairs Ministers for our respective countries. She has achieved a lot as a leader on the African scene and her election at AU is yet another milestone not only for the SADC region but the entire African continent,” President Banda told journalists at the meeting.
In her remarks, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma thanked President Banda, the Government and the people of Malawi for the “unwavering support” in the run up to; during; and after the AU polls.
She pledged to champion the cause of a conflict-free Africa where its people, particularly the women and the youth, prosper.
According to Mwanyongo, later the two leaders held discussions in camera whose details he said would be made public at an appropriate time.
Dr. Dlamini-Zuma was on July 15, 2012 elected over incumbent Dr. Jean Ping after three rounds of voting in which she got 37 votes (60 percent) in a race that was largely about Francophone states against Anglophone states.
She is a South African politician and former anti-apartheid activist.
Dlamini-Zuma was South Africa’s Minister of Health from 1994 to 1999, under President Nelson Mandela, then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 17 June 17, 1999 to May 10, 2009, under Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Molanthe.