Obama taps DNC chief Patrick Gaspard as South Africa ambassador

Rhodes called Gaspard "somebody who's close to the president, someone who cares deeply about South Africa, [and] I think demonstrates the president's engagement in this relationship."

Before jointing the president's campaign team, Gaspard worked for the Service Employees International Union, a top labor union, as a political organizer. He was also, accruing to The Washington Post, actively involved in organizing efforts to overthrow apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s.

Gaspard was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo — then called Zaire — after his Haitian-born parents moved there, but the family moved to New York City when he was 3.

Gaspard will replace Donald Gips, the former chief domestic policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore, who has served as ambassador since the beginning of President Obama's first term.