Fanfare for SA's new AU chair
African Union Commission chairman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma wiped away tears yesterday when scores of people honoured her during a parade through the Durban city centre.
People in colourful traditional dress, members of the ANC Women's League and nurses danced in the streets to celebrate Dlamini-Zuma's becoming the first woman to lead the AU.
Led by marching bands, metro police on motorbikes and horses, Umkhonto weSizwe members and floats, Dlamini-Zuma walked alongside KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, Durban mayor James Nxumalo and his deputy, Nomvuzo Shabalala, from King Dinizulu Park to the city hall.
Nxumalo told participants in the parade that the municipality wanted to honour Dlamini-Zuma before she left for Addis Ababa.
He said the city was proud of the role she had played in changing the lives of the people in the country, and in the city in particular.
"It would have not been a good thing for her to leave without us saying thank you. We support her and we have no doubt she will make us proud."
Dhlomo said the number of nurses in the parade showed that Dlamini-Zuma had left a solid foundation in the Department of Health.
The anti-tobacco bill she had introduced made those in the health sector proud.
"We have seen what she did in other departments. And we are happy that she will break a lot of barriers in Africa. We know that she will leave a mark on the AU."
Overwhelmed by the crowd outside the city hall, Dlamini-Zuma struggled to hold back tears but eventually managed to speak.
"It's very humbling to arrive home and find such a welcoming honour. I'm very grateful to the ANC, which sent me to parliament after our first democratic elections," she said.
Dlamini-Zuma thanked former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and President Jacob Zuma for including her in their cabinets and giving her an opportunity to be part of the transformation of lives in South Africa.
Her priority now was to take orders from African people.
"Everyone must contribute and give direction on how they need Africa to be run," she said.