Originally the position was to go to eSwatini, but "capacity bottlenecks" meant that the country could not fulfill that duty, state officials say.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that the decision to elect South Africa as chairman of the African Union (AU) surprised him in 2020.
"It's totally unexpected," he told journalists on the sidelines of the state summit of the 32nd. AU on Monday, where it was announced that South Africa would occupy the one-year position that spans between African regions. 1
However, his representatives brought a desperate request to South Africa 48 hours before the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met to complete the candidacy of the absolute monarchy.
They cited "capacity bottlenecks" as a reason why eSwatini could not fulfill this duty, government officials said with knowledge of the meeting.
It is not clear what these were, but the country's former finance minister, Martin Dlamini, admitted last year that the kingdom went bankrupt. However, eSwatini was still hosting the AU mid-year meeting, but the South African government has agreed to help with security and logistics operations.
King Mswati III did not attend the summit this week and sent his new Prime Minister, Ambrose Dlamini, in his place.
Unlike Madagascar's new president Andry Rajoelina and new Democratic Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, Dlamini did not speak at the summit because he is not eSwatini's head of state.
South Africa last chaired the AU in 2002, with former President Thabo Mbeki holding the position. The last time a country presided over by the SADC of the AU (2015) was former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at the head.
As South Africa's next year is reinforced for SADC's next rotation, it means that the region's largest economy has more. Leading one of the other 13 member countries of the region.
However, eSwatini would still house the mid-year AU Assembly, announced in 2015, but the R4.8 billion of the small kingdom has been poured out. The construction of massive conference facilities for this meeting may have already been wasted.
Following the recent reforms, the AU reduced its mid-year meetings from full summits requiring massive infrastructure and hotel rooms for heads of state to a tighter, more functional meeting of officials, referred to as the "mid-year coordination meeting".
This year's meeting in Niamey, Niger, will already be one such session, and the next full AU Heads of State Summit will take place in January next year.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of eSwatini criticized harsh false reports in the local media, according to which South Africa will be teaching a meeting next year.
Joel Nhleko, the department's chief secretary, said on Thursday: "Until the Kingdom wishes to withdraw its offer to host the Coordinating Summit in 2020, for whatever reason, the 2015 Ruling [that eSwatini would host the summit] will do not change.
He said that the negotiations for the AU presidency had been carried out "with full emphasis and understanding between the Member States of the respective blocs".
Ramaphosa said South Africa is "honored" to be elected AU Chairman in 2020.
"We are deeply humble," he told journalists, adding, "We did not expect to be invited to perform this role, but because it is a duty we must fulfill, we take it with us and we are pleased that there is some confidence that the continent is investing in us as South Africa in order to be able to lead the continent in 2020. "
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is this year's chairman.
While Rwandan President Paul Kagame urged for a stronger AU, other countries favor a weaker AU that does not interfere with their domestic politics and problems.
In the probable event of his remaining post in Africa after the parliamentary elections on May 8, Ramaphosa is expected to be the person to fill the chair next year.
This position is also in line with South Africa's two-year provisional membership of the UN Security Council, which, according to officials, should deal with issues on the continent with the international body.
Next year, measures will also be taken to set the deadline for the "Silence of the guns in Africa".
While unlikely, South African officials are considering the AU's chairmanship, just as Kagame was driving the AU's reforms and the African Continental Free Trade Area during the Rwandan chairmanship of the panel last year.
Peace in Africa by 2020 was one of the objectives of the AU's Agenda 2063, which was championed by former AU Commission Chairman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, wrote in a commentary in the daily Maverick on Friday: "South Africa will build on past work by accelerating action that contributes to a conflict-free Africa and ends all wars on the Continent by 2020. "
South Africa's position in the United Nations Security Council would also" provide him with a unique opportunity to use the United Nations' ability to end conflicts on the continent. "
She would too She also wrote that cooperation between the UN and the AU is important.