/ 3 August 2009

Leon, Skweyiya, Balfour earmarked for diplomatic posts

Former opposition leader Tony Leon and former ministers Zola Skweyiya and Ngconde Balfour have been earmarked for diplomatic posts, the International Relations Department said on Monday.

”Mr Zola Skweyiya, Mr Ngconde Balfour as well as the former leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mr Tony Leon will Monday August 3 2009 undergo diplomatic training in preparation for future deployment in the diplomatic corps,” the ministry said in a statement.

Balfour is the former correctional services minister, while Skweyiya was the minister for social development in the previous government.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said the ”diplomatic training will capacitate the ambassador-designates with the prerequisite skills required to run a mission”.

”The training takes into cognisance that the ambassador-designates are seasoned politicians in our government system with a wealth of experience in the functioning of government, albeit from opposite political benches.”

The process of appointing them was ”still in motion” and the three must still be officially appointed by President Jacob Zuma, said the department.

”Diplomatic protocol requires that ambassador-designates receive official confirmation of their acceptance by the receiving state before their deployment. Currently, this process is still in motion.

”Finally, President Jacob Zuma, upon recommendation by the International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, will make the final decision at an appropriate time with regard to their confirmation as South African representatives as well as countries of accreditation.”

The Sunday Times, quoting unnamed sources, reported at the weekend that Leon would be posted to Argentina while Skweyiya was headed for Britain. — Sapa