South African-Born Handbag Entrepreneur Lana Marks - 'I'm Qualified to Be the Next U.S. Ambassador to SA'

Mary Beth Leonard (left), U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria; Jessica E. Lapenn, U.S. Ambassador to the African Union; and Lana Marks, President Trump's nominee to be ambassador to South Africa (right).
analysis

After a 30-month vacancy in the US ambassadorship to Pretoria, Donald Trump's choice finally had her first Senate confirmation hearing this week.

South African-born US entrepreneur Lana Marks has told US senators they should confirm her as America's next ambassador to South Africa mainly because of her business acumen, gained from setting up a successful global handbag business.

This would help her boost business between the two countries.

US President Donald Trump nominated Marks as ambassador in 2018, but she appeared before the US Senate foreign relations committee only on Wednesday for a hearing to enable the senators to decide if she should be confirmed as ambassador.

She has no government experience, but Trump knows her personally from Florida where she now lives with her family. The US ambassadorship in Pretoria has been vacant since former president Barack Obama's nominee, Patrick Gaspard, left the post in January 2017.

Marks appeared at the hearing alongside four other nominees, all career public servants seeking ambassadorial and other government positions. One was Jessica Lapenn, who has been acting US ambassador in Pretoria since Gaspard left but has now been nominated by the Trump administration to become US ambassador to the African Union in...

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