Presidency pledges support for Dlamini Zuma

Monday, July 16, 2012

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj told reporters in Ethiopia on Monday that the confidence shown by the continent's Heads of State in Dlamini Zuma should not be "taken lightly but should serve as signal for a transforming continent".

"We are confident she will take many issues seriously and that includes the rights of women and children and ensuring that there is no more abuse of women and children on our continent, it's going to be a phenomenal task," Maharaj said.

On Sunday, Dlamini Zuma received 37 votes following a gruelling contest with Jean Ping who had served as AUC chairperson since 2008. Ping has since written a letter to Dlamini Zuma congratulating her on the appointment.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) had put forward the name of Dlamini Zuma as a candidate emphasising her strong leadership qualities and the fact that the region had never had a representative to the highest office of the continental body.

Lobbying by both Ping's and Dlamini Zuma's supporters had intensified ahead of the vote on Sunday. The winner required 60 percent of votes to be elected, something the South African minister was able to achieve in the fourth round of voting.

Dlamini Zuma has rejected suggestions that the rivalry between her and Ping risked tearing the AU apart. "I think the continent is stronger than that ... to allow itself to just be fractured by elections involving two people," she said, calling on all of the AU's 54 members states to support whoever emerged as the winner.

On Monday, Maharaj said South Africa was also of the view that there will not be a policy shift now that a SADC candidate had been appointed to the position but that there should be more emphasis on implementation.

"We would expect her to follow up on the work done by Dr Jean Ping to look at the decisions of the AU and to ensure that those decisions are implemented. The AU has taken many good decisions, the problem is to get them implemented," he said.

Maharaj said bringing peace and development to the continent was not an easy task and said President Jacob Zuma had called on all Heads of State to support the new AUC chairperson as she took the union's work forward.

He emphasised that Dlamini Zuma was no longer a "servant" of South Africa but that of the continent. "We've lost her, its Africa's gain. She sees this as a win for the AU," said Maharaj.

The Presidency will liaise with the AU to facilitate the logistics surrounding the movement of Dlamini Zuma from the Ministry of Home Affairs to her new offices in Addis Ababa, the continental body's headquarters.