‘African Union Chairmanship Coming to Southern Africa’

Ping and Zuma
Ping and Zuma are both vying for the position

Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Given Lubinda is confident that the position of African Union chairmanship will this time around go to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Mr Lubinda, who is representing President Michael Sata, said in an interview yesterday that the Southern African region had so far made four attempts at assuming the chairmanship of the AU.

“SADC is very clear on the elections and after 49 years we want the AU to be led by someone from the Southern region,” he said.

On Thursday evening the SADC, through Botswana Foreign Affairs Minister, Phandu Skelemani condemned the use of AU funds for campaigns by current AU Commission Chairperson, Jean Ping.

Dr Ping is being challenged by South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the AU’s chief executive position, which is a full-time job.

The elections are expected to be held today or tomorrow as part of the 19th AU Summit of Heads of State and Government.

Mr Lubinda said the AU had in the past been led by individuals from West, Central and Eastern Africa while the North and Southern regions have not had chance to lead the institution.

He said that the Southern region had made four attempts from 1974 when Zambia’s Vernon Mwaanga contested the elections while the Northern region had never made any attempt.

On arguments that the AU could not be led by someone from South Africa because it was believed to be a super-power in Africa, Mr Lubinda said the issue could not stand because someone from Nigeria had in the past been AU chairperson.

He said it was not in order that SADC was being accused of being divisive just because it wanted someone from the region to head the AU.

The allegation, he said, was against the AU values.

Mr Lubinda also said that the Council of Ministers also discussed the 2013 AU budget although Zambia raised questions on the presentation without the 2011 audited financial report.

He said that he also questioned the US$50 million that appeared in the budget without any allocation.