The ANC chief whip congratulated Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Monday on her election as AU commission chairman.
“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,” the office of the ANC chief whip, Mathole Motshekga, said in a statement.
Asked whether this meant she would have to vacate her job as home affairs minister, spokesman Moloto Mothapo said it was understood to be a full-time position, but the presidency would have the final say.
She is the first woman to hold the position.
“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 process in collaboration with AU member states will be better served under her able stewardship.
“We commend the African Union states, particularly the (Southern African Development Community) region that chose Dr Dlamini-Zuma as its candidate, for demonstrating confidence in her and the people of South Africa,” he said.
The presidency said it would respond after voting results were officially announced on Monday.
“The AU is yet to formally announce it. Until then it will be inappropriate to respond,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said.
Dlamini-Zuma received the most votes on Sunday evening, beating the incumbent, Jean Ping of Gabon.
Earlier, International Affairs and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Dlamini-Zuma would make sure the AU's resolutions were implemented.
“What should change (with her election)... is that there will be more accountability, there will be more fast-tracking of implementations of decisions taken by the heads of state,” Nkoana-Mashabane told SAfm.
“That means, spend more time on implementation of our resolutions instead of just creating more and more (resolutions).”
Nkoana-Mashabane said Dlamini-Zuma's election was a victory for women.
Dlamini-Zuma would through the AU “strengthen early warning systems, strengthen democracy and rule of law, and unity”, Nkoana-Mashabane said.
The commission is the secretariat of the union, entrusted with executive functions.
On its website the AU explains the commission plays a central role in the AU's day-to-day management. It represents the AU and defends its interests, elaborates the union's draft positions, and prepares and co-ordinates its strategic plans. – Sapa IOLSA