15/03/2017 15:30 SAST | Updated 15/03/2017 16:47 SAST

Roaring Praise For Homebound Dlamini-Zuma

Former African Union Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was met with thunderous applause and cheers upon returning from Addis Ababa.

A jubilant crowd of African National Congress (ANC) supporters welcomed former chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, with exuberant praise upon her return from Addis Ababa.

They met her at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Wednesday, when Dlamini-Zuma returned to South Africa after handing over the reins to new AU chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat on Monday after four years in the post.

Supporters from the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and Women's League (ANCWL) packed the international arrivals hall at the airport and sang Dlamini-Zuma's praises for her work in the AU.

ANCYL NEC's Sifiso Mtsweni said Dlamini-Zuma had made the country proud as the first woman on the African continent to fill the position. He said supporters had gathered to express their gratitude and praise for her work.

Mtsweni said Dlamini-Zuma had stabilised the administration of the body and "brought in a woman's touch in an all-male dominated AU".

Febe Potgieter-Gqubele, former deputy chief of staff in the AU Commission, said the continent on a whole agreed that Dlamini-Zuma's term in office was a success. "She has ensured a successful shift in focus in the AU from peace and security towards development, infrastructure, health and education," she said. One of the notable successes in this regard was the mobilisation of 845 health workers to address the ebola crisis in parts of West Africa.

Potgieter-Gqubele praised Dlamini-Zuma for augmenting the role of women within the organisation. "Women in professional and management positions represented less than 12 percent in 2012. By January 2017, women represented just under 39 percent of total staff of the AU Commission including those in directorship positions. She has also mainstreamed gender in all work of the commission, including education and health."

Upon arrival, Dlamini-Zuma thanked the ANC and the country for supporting her during her tenure in the AU.

ANCYL president Collin Maine said in front of Dlamini-Zuma that the ANC has big plans for her, although the plans would only be revealed "at the right time". ANCYL secretary general Njabulo Nzuza meanwhile criticised deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa for "making himself available" on media platforms for the position of ANC president before being officially nominated by a branch.

Dlamini-Zuma is widely anticipated to join the race for the ANC presidency ahead of the party's national conference in December; the party president is then in a strong position to be the country's next president.