THE election for the African Union (AU) Commission chair is expected to be one of the dominant political events this week.

The election took place late last night. SA was quietly confident that Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would win against Gabon's Jean Ping. returns from Ethiopia today.

The South African government has put considerable effort into ensuring that Ms Dlamini-Zuma wins this time around, after her failed bid early this year. Had she lost, SA's international standing might have suffered as this would have sent a message that SA was not popular among the majority of African countries.

The position is generally reserved for smaller countries, through a gentleman's agreement, though this was questioned by SA's diplomats.

That SA, the biggest economy in Africa, is muscling its way could intensify resentment against big countries. SA's victory is a political coup for Mr Zuma, who is expecting the minister to improve the AU's administration. Her victory is expected to give SA some indirect control of the AU, as she would be the first port of call for many overseas governments and multilateral bodies such as the United Nations.

South African diplomats often argue that, unlike Mr Ping, she would be able to get the AU involved in conflict situations such as those seen in Côte d'Ivoire and the Arab Spring last year, much more quickly and decisively.

Following the South African Communist Party's (SACP's) elective congress which wrapped up in Richards Bay yesterday, it can be expected that the analysis of this event and reaction to some of the developments around it, will be some of the talking points of the week.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is planning a press conference to reflect on the SACP's congress, union president Cedric Gina said yesterday.

A day had not been announced at the time of going to press.

Numsa came under heavy criticism at the congress and SACP leaders accused the union of trying to dictate how the party should be run. Numsa and SACP leaders are often at each others throats over the African National Congress's succession politics.

Numsa leaders are associated with the change camp, while the SACP wants Mr Zuma retained.

The SACP has also dismissed as attention-seeking reports there was an attempt to assassinate Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim last week. The SACP's dismissal of the incident has angered Numsa leaders, and will be one of the subjects of the planned press conference.

In Pretoria today, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi will address a press conference on the SD-Bioline test kits. The government stopped the distribution of the HIV-test kits, following reports that they had been blacklisted by the World Health Organisation.

Former president Nelson Mandela 's 94th birthday on Wednesday will provide some "feel good" relief, from the heavy politics, as many people in the country, including political parties, join in the celebrations.

Mr Zuma and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies will attend the fifth ministerial conference of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in Beijing, which starts on Thursday.

mkokelis@bdfm.co.za