By Wongai Zhangazha in Addis Ababa
AFRICAN Union Commission chairman Jean Ping has denied accusations of working closely with France to spearhead its agenda in the continental body, as the race for election of a new chair peaks.Ping said he was “annoyed” by recent media publications in South Africa alleging his campaign was being funded by France and he had demanded to be posted elsewhere to make way for his challenger, South African Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The vote for the new chair is scheduled for tomorrow.
In a statement released at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, Ping described the reports as “outright fallacy and fabrication”.
“Just before the January election also, it was maliciously alleged that I am under the influence of France and that France teleguides the affairs of the Commission by remote control,” said Ping.
“No evidence has been provided to support this allegation and nothing in my conduct at the AU remotely supports that allegation. On the contrary, I have fully implemented all AU decisions, including on Libya, which were in contradiction with the position of France.
“Recently, it has been suggested that France is funding my campaign, including provision of an aircraft for trips I have made, some in fulfillment of my official duties. This is absolutely untrue. The fact is that it is my government and my personal resources that have sustained my campaign,” he said.
Meanwhile Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi yesterday said President Robert Mugabe is fully supporting Dlamini-Zuma as the next AU Commission chairperson, adding that it was no longer tenable for the continental body to continue marginalising the southern African region that has not held the position of AU Commissioner for 49 years.