African leaders have for the first time elected a woman and a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission.
Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma, South African Minister of Home Affairs, an experienced diplomat and a medical doctor by training will become the first person from the predominantly English-speaking Southern African country to hold the top job, which has been dominated by French-speaking African countries for over a decade.
New Era spoke to some political analysts and human rights activists to find out what her appointment means for women on the continent and in particular for the SADC region.
Dr Andrew Niikondo, political analyst and Vice-Rector at the Polytechnic of Namibia, welcomed the appointment of Dlamini-Zuma saying that he was extremely happy she was elected to the position.
"I applaud this. Women are always good in bringing about peace and have good negotiation skills," he said, adding that Southern Africa is known for political stability and with her appointment this will hopefully transfer the ethos prevailing here to other strife-torn parts of Africa.
Niikondo said that it has always been the objective of SADC and the AU to empower women to be part of decision-making, adding that the African Union is leading by example in this regard.
Salatiel Shinedima, National Gender-Based Violence Coordinator at Women's Action for Development (WAD) echoed Niikondo's sentiments, saying her election was good given SADC's protocol on promoting gender equality.
"She has experience and South Africa did well to propose her as candidate," he added.
He gave examples of Zimbabwean Vice-President Joice Mujuru and President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, as forerunners in SADC who, like Dlamini-Zuma have also not merely been appointed because they are women, but because of their work ethic.
"Our region has done quite well in bringing about peace, such as the efforts of former South African President Thabo Mbeki who has mediated in the Sudan conflict and Zimbabwe and President Hifikepunye Pohamba's involvement as SADC chairperson in the Madagascar case," Shinedima said.
"This is a recognition of the fact that African problems require African solutions," said Shinedima.
However, NamRights Director, Phil Ya Nangoloh said that Dlamini-Zuma's appointment would not necessarily bring about stability on the continent.
"I don't think there will be better conflict resolution because she is a woman," said the human rights activist.
Nangoloh, however, welcomed the fact that women were increasingly assuming roles of leadership in international politics, adding "this is how things ought to be".
"It's a good thing that she has been appointed. It was long overdue for women," he said while stressing that African women are capable.
"Women do not need physical power but brain power to lead. The Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first African woman president is a case in point."
Dr Audrin Mathe, NBC Chief News and Programming Officer and political commentator said there was a lot of symbolism attached to Dlamini-Zuma's election.
"In spite of her gender, a lot of work awaits her - mainly healing the wounds that have opened in the run-up to her election," he said.
Mathe said she goes into the post weak because there were those in other parts of the continent that felt she was "bulldozed" into the position by her country.
"She will have to reach out to countries that were opposed to her candidacy. The view that her country supported the much-criticised UN resolution on Libya will also influence how Africa looks at her," he pointed out.
He said there could however be no question about her competency since she had been a very capable South African foreign affairs minister under former president Thabo Mbeki.
"Her primary preoccupation is to heal the wounds at the Commission.
You will recognise that Southern Africans are underrepresented in the AU commission. Perhaps she will be sympathetic to that, but not at the expense of other regions," he said.