Nkosazana, servant of continent, will build bridges
Incoming African Union Commission chairman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has promised to serve the entire continent and not just the region that nominated her.
"I am loyal to the AU. I am here to serve. and will work collectively with every member state," she said yesterday at an impromptu media conference arranged just before her swearing-in ceremony.
Dlamini-Zuma said she was aware that the election process - which included a stalemate in January and four rounds of voting on Sunday - had been a long one, but said it was important that consensus had finally been reached.
Her first call of duty, she said, would be to paper over any cracks that might have appeared.
"We have to work together with every single member state and all of the people of the continent for the benefit of the continent. We are here to unite around the programmes [of the AU] and see how we can implement them together.
"My election should not be seen as a personal victory. It is a victory for the African continent and for women in particular," she said.
She also thanked outgoing chairman Jean Ping for the work he had done during his four years at the helm and said the handing-over period would probably take between two and three months.
Dlamini-Zuma also defended the continental body from accusations that it was slow in tackling conflicts and other crises on the continent.
She pointed out that the AU had in fact set up its own peace and security council because it was unhappy with the "elephant pace" with which the United Nations Security Council was responding to security threats on the continent.
But she acknowledged that the world body was the ultimate custodian of world peace. She said the AU - which celebrates 50 years next year - had to begin turning into reality the dreams of its founder members.
"Our founders had a vision of a united, economically and politically emancipated continent at peace with itself and the world. The challenge that faces us is how do you translate that into reality?"
Kenyan Erastus Mwencha was re-elected deputy chairman. New commissioners were also elected to assist Dlamini-Zuma and Mwencha in running the commission.
The AU summit ended yesterday.
Ping earlier congratulated Dlamini-Zuma for beating him to the top continental post and pledged his support, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said yesterday.