Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that Ms Dlamini-Zuma’s was the choice of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the post.
But neighbouring Kenya has turned down a request from South Africa to support its candidate. When meeting with a South African delegation on Wednesday, President Mwai Kibaki said South Africa’s ambition for the AU top job clashes with Kenya’s own interest to have Erastus Mwencha, a Kenyan, for the post deputy chairperson.
The AU leadership operates on the principle that both the chairman and his deputy cannot come from Anglophone countries, or vice versa for Francophone states.
Both South Africa and Kenya are Anglophone states.
Tanzania, on the other hand, said it had an obligation to support Ms Dlamini-Zuma as the candidate endorsed by SADC.
Tanzania is a member of SADC.
“SADC has decided to back Ms Dlamini-Zuma for the top job, and Tanzania has been asked to campaign for her in eight countries,” Mr Membe explained.
The South African will vie for the position again during the AU summit in Malawi next month after the first election in January failed to produce a winner. She is competing against Mr Jean Ping, the incumbent AU Commission boss.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka said that President Kibaki made it clear to the South African delegation that Kenya has a candidate who is seeking to become deputy chairperson.
“It is nearly impossible for Kenya to vote for South Africa because Anglophone states will need one of the seats,” said Mr Onyonka.
“There was an ad-hoc committee formed to work out the matter. South Africa was told to wait for the committee’s report.”
During the January voting, neither Ms Dlamini-Zuma nor Mr Ping secured the required two-thirds of the votes in accordance with the AU rules and regulations, forcing African leaders to suspend the election and extend Mr Ping’s tenure by six months.
In a briefing to reporters on other continental matters, the Tanzanian Foreign Minister said Tanzania still supported Western Sahara’s endeavour to be independent.
Some members of Tanzania’s parliamentary Foreign Affairs committee were recently quoted as saying that Tanzania supports Morocco in the dispute.
“In 2008, when President Kikwete was serving as AU chairman it was agreed that he should intervene and find a lasting solution to the crisis and I was sent to Morocco to deliver a special message to the Moroccan King,” Mr Membe said.
He added that the matter was complicated by the fact that Morocco was not an AU member. Morocco has been reluctant to allow a referendum to decide whether Western Sahara should be independent.