Malawi backing Zuma for top AU job- South Africa

South African government has managed to secure support from southern and east African countries to vote in favour of its candidate who is eying the top post of African Union (AU) commission chairperson, a senior cabinet official has said.

South Africa’s international relations minister Maite-Nkoana Mashabane told SABC’s morning live host Vuyo in an interview in Cape Town, she is confident her cabinet colleague home affairs minister Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma would win the race as the rainbow nation has been able to secure enough votes including from the host nation Malawi.

Malawi is hosting the African Union summit this July in capital Lilongwe where topping the list of the agenda is election of head of the grouping’s secretariat based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dlamini Zuma: South Africa 'cautiously optimistic'

First round of the contest ended without clear winner as both Zuma and incumbent chair Jean Ping, a Gabonese, failed to secure the required two thirds majority.

The contest further exposed huge divisions in the organization as Ping was vigorously supported by West African states while sub Saharan nations are said to have rallied behind Zuma who is ex-wife to President Jacob Zuma.

Meanwhile, the visibly confident minister Mashabane further told the breakfast show host, a win for Dlamini Zuma would be of great significant to the region as it has never been headed by a southerner in its 50 year existence.

“Without doubt am confident minister Zuma would win the chairmanship, this is so because we have been assured of support from SADC countries, East African countries and even the host nation Malawi, such is the reason we’re beaming with hope.

“Minister Zuma’s win is not a win for South Africa as a country but rather the entire region at large as she becomes not only first woman but also first person from the region to head the commission,” said Mashabane.

She punted the former foreign minister as a “high-calibre cadre with extensive knowledge and experience of the AU and the African continent”

It is reported that Malawi abstained from voting in the first round as late president Bingu wa Mutharika was supporting Ping.

Meanwhile, the sudden change of heart comes barely a week after the South African government donated money amounting to $35 million to the Malawi government to be used for purchasing fuel.

Dlamini-Zuma said she had been motivated to seek the job because “Africa’s time is now, not tomorrow”, and was committed to the emancipation of African women.

There was no immediate comment from Malawi government.

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