The Democratic Alliance on Tuesday urged President Jacob Zuma not to appoint outspoken columnist Jon Qwelane as South Africa's ambassador to Uganda because it would seem to endorse that country's persecution of gays.

"Jon Qwelane is a committed homophobe and his appointment could be seen as a tacit endorsement of the repressive stance Uganda is taking on homosexuality," DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko said.

Uganda is under international pressure to withdraw a bill that would impose the death penalty for homosexual acts.

"The DA is of the opinion that the appointment of Mr Qwelane would not take into account the serious nature of this," said Mazibuko.

In his column in the Sunday Sun, Qwelane has stated that same sex marriage is "illogical" and that if any of his children had been gay, he would have disowned them.

The veteran journalist was a vocal supporter of Zuma when the ANC leader battled fraud and corruption charges and it has been widely reported that he would soon be named ambassador to Kampala.

The Sunday Times reported that the government was waiting for Uganda to approve the appointment.

Mazibuko said Pretoria ought to be lobbying Uganda to drop plans to execute gays but instead "the president appears to be moving to appoint a man whose record for promoting intolerance, homophobia and prejudice in South Africa is well established and largely unparalleled".

Several rights groups have also signalled their opposition to Qwelane's mooted appointment. -

Sapa