Zimbabwe's ruling partners have congratulated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on becoming the first female African Union Commission head after beating the incumbent, Jean Ping of Gabon in a tightly contested vote in Ethiopia late Sunday.
The South African Home Affairs Minister, also former wife of President Jacob Zuma drew her support from mostly English-speaking countries, chiefly from southern Africa, while Ping was backed by former French colonies.
After a tense three rounds of voting, Ping, who assumed the chairmanship in 2008, conceded in line with the AU voting regulations, handing over the throne to Dlamini-Zuma.
The election was conducted at the opening of the AU summit currently underway in Addis Ababa. A celebrating Zimbabwean delegate who accompanied President Robert Mugabe was quoted shouting “we made it.”
“Now we move on to unite the African continent," President Zuma’s external affairs adviser Lindiwe Zulu told Reuters. "We unite everybody through Madame Zuma.”
And in Harare, spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told VOA his party was joyful at the former first lady's achievement.
"We are happy about the election of Mrs. Zuma into the AU Commission; firstly because she is coming from SADC (Southern African Development Community), and secondly because she is a woman," Mwonzora said.
His sentiments were echoed by Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman of the MDC wing led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube who said Dlamini-Zuma’s elections is an encouraging development for gender equality.