EU supports Zuma ex-wife to head AU commission: report

7th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

European Union diplomacy head Catherine Ashton supports South African President Jacob Zuma's ex-wife for the post of African Union commission head, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

"She supports SA's position to strengthen the AU, which is weak, ineffective and has poor administration and governance controls," Business Day quoted a senior government official as saying on condition of anonymity.

The official confirmed Ashton supported the candidacy of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who was South Africa's foreign affairs minister from 1999 to 2009.

Dlamini- Zuma, 62, became health minister after the country's first post-apartheid elections in 1994 and currently heads the home affairs ministry.

Contacted at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann denied the report.

"On Ping vs Zuma, it's complete nonsense. This is entirely an issue for the AU," he told AFP.

Current AU commission chairman Jean Ping of Gabon will run for a second term to head the 54-member body. He has chaired the continental body's top executive body since 2008 and his mandate expires at the end of January.

South Africa's strategy "will neutralise France which is actively funding the reelection of Mr Ping, even though it is publicy denying it," the newspaper quoted the official as saying.

Zuma has the support of the Southern African Development Community, while Ping has the weight of francophone West Africa behind him.

Several countries in French-speaking Africa were among the staunchest allies of slain Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, the founding father of the AU in its current form and one of its key financial backers.

The European Union is also a key source of funding for the AU and in particular for its peace and security infrastructure.

© 2011 AFP

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