Dlamini-Zuma hailed at home, doubts raised abroad
HOME Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's election to chair the African Union (AU) Commission has been welcomed across all parties in South Africa, with her own African National Congress (ANC) saying her appointment would drive African integration.
However, her victory has drawn mixed reaction from other African countries.
A statement from the office of the ANC's chief whip in the National Assembly, Mathole Motshekga, said:"We are confident that in Dr Dlamini-Zuma, the continental body indeed has a seasoned diplomat and a hard worker with extensive experience in governance and Pan-African issues. We have no doubt that, given her wealth of experience, the AU Commission's primary mission of driving African integration and development processes in collaboration with AU member states will be better served under her able stewardship.
"While she will be lost to the South African government, which she served in various capacities with excellence and dedication for many years, we draw satisfaction from the fact that she will be assuming a higher calling - serving the entire African continent.
"We commend the African Union states, particularly the South African Development Community (Sadc) region that chose Dr Dlamini-Zuma as its candidate, for demonstrating confidence in her and the people of South Africa."
Ms Dlamini-Zuma beat incumbent and rival Jean Ping of Gabon on Sunday.
She secured 34 votes in the fourth round of voting, giving her the margin needed to defeat Mr Ping. The victory makes Ms Dlamini-Zuma the first chairman from Sadc, as well as the first woman to chair the commission in 49 years.
The South African government put considerable effort into ensuring Ms Dlamini-Zuma won this time around, after her failed bid early this year. Had she lost, South Africa's international standing might have suffered as this would have sent a message that South Africa was not popular among the majority of African countries.
The position is generally reserved for smaller countries, through a gentlemen's agreement, though this was questioned by South Africa's diplomats.
Kenya, which voted for Mr Ping, conceded that the breaking of the six-month deadlock over the AU's top job was good for the continent, with Richard Onyonka, an assistant foreign affairs minister, calling the vote "a kind of victory for Africa because we have moved forward".
But he said he disapproved of the bulldozing tactics employed by South Africa.
"For us, it's more like a bitter-sweet victory," he said. "I believe this election has brought sharp divisions within the AU and it was not necessary.
"I'm very uncomfortable with the methods and style of South Africa. They were entitled to bring a candidate . but we felt that there was too much intimidation, arm-twisting and threats," Mr Onyonka said.
Another delegate, who did not want to be identified, accused South Africa, home to the continent's largest economy, of buying votes.
With Sam Mkokeli, Sapa-AFP
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