‘We are not voting cows’
As contestation for the ANC presidency hots up, backers of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are going all out to punt the notion of a woman being given the top job
ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini yesterday fired the first salvo aimed at dispelling the widespread notion that voting for presidential hopeful Nkosazana DalminiZuma would be akin to voting for President Jacob Zuma, who is her ex-husband and an ardent supporter of her campaign. City Press has learnt that, following the party’s bruising policy conference, which took place a few weeks ago, the Dlamini-Zuma camp is still confident that she will be crowned ANC president at the December conference.
However, they are aware that for this to happen she must change the public’s impression that she is Zuma’s proxy – and do so without alienating his support base.
In Kimberley in the Northern Cape yesterday, Dlamini sought to deal with this concern about Dlamini-Zuma.
She said it was “reactionary” to say that “if you elect Dlamini-Zuma, you are electing Zuma”.
She added that Dlamini-Zuma was a doctor by profession, but it was her passion for the country that drove her to join the ANC and become an anti-apartheid activist.
“We are going to debunk all the lies that they are going to tell about Dlamini-Zuma,” she said, adding that her detractors were “hiding high levels of patriarchy”.
“All along they thought we were passengers in the train, when women have always been part of the struggle. So, it is not as a favour that we want a woman as president,” she said.
Dlamini, who is also the minister of social development, said women comprised more than 60% of the ANC “and they want to make us their voting cows”.
“The time has come for the ANC to be led by a woman. It is not a present. We have chosen the best among the best. So, Dlamini-Zuma is not just a leader but also a hard worker.”
Dlamini-Zuma has spent the past few days in the Northern Cape province to drum up support. Her efforts have included conducting door-to-door campaigns in Kuruman.
Events in the province were organised by the local ANC women’s and youth leagues, the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association and ANC representatives in the Frances Baard District Municipality.
Ali Diteme, spokesperson for the ANC Frances Baard region, told City Press that Dlamini-Zuma was “a product of the ANC and Umkhonto weSizwe”.
“It is mischievous to suggest that she is a proxy of any leader of the ANC,” he said.
“The ANC has allowed for every member in good standing to lobby and be lobbied for a position of leadership.”
At the policy conference, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza – who is also the ANC’s provincial chairperson – seemed to switch his support from Dlamini-Zuma to presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa. However, Dlamini-Zuma’s backers are convinced that the rest of the province is still behind her.
As provincial lobby groups met to discuss their preferences, tensions arose between Dlamini-Zuma’s camps in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. They emanated from perceptions that KwaZuluNatal sought to use its numerical majority in terms of ANC membership to “call the shots” and dominate other provinces.
However, the matter has been settled, and ANC provincial working committee groups from both provinces are expected to meet and tie the loose ends when Mabuza returns from an official trade and investment trip to Russia. Mpumalanga’s ANC wants Mabuza to be deputy president. Dlamini-Zuma’s lobby is also hitting the right notes for North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, who is also the ANC’s provincial chair. Mahumapelo said any ANC presidential hopeful who came up with practical proposals to “defeat Western imperialism” would get his support. Mahumapelo told City Press that “regardless who they are, if we can have a leader who pronounces that practically, this and that will culturally, economically and politically thwart imperialism, we are fully behind them”. Although Mahumapelo said he would be guided by ANC branches and announce the province’s preferred ANC presidential candidate at the right time, he was aware that Dlamini-Zuma’s camp punted radical economic transformation as her campaign ticket, promoting it as the best defence against Western imperialism. But he opposed the argument that the ANC’s number two should become the “natural” successor, saying it was simplistic and unconstitutional. Last week, City Press reported that Zuma, who is aligned with the Dlamini-Zuma campaign, fingered unknown Western forces for trying to get rid of him as ANC president in order to hijack the party. On Wednesday, Mahumapelo said: “We are looking for a person who is not going to sell South Africa to the West, who are the imperialists. That is key. We cannot allow South Africa to be controlled by the US and UK.” He said that if unchecked, the two global superpowers “are basically going to pocket South Africa and we are going to become a pseudo state, controlled by imperialism.” He told City Press that lobby bids by the ANC women’s and youth leagues for Dlamini-Zuma were “epoch-making”. “It says to the ANC that after 105 years, as an organisation that subscribes to nonsexism, it has never had a female secretary-general or president. Is that not a contradiction in terms, in that we say we are building a nonsexist society, but practically, in the way that we elect leaders within structures, we are not demonstrating that?” he said.
He said the ANC’s alliance partners – the SA Communist Party and trade federation Cosatu – which have endorsed Ramaphosa, “must make a better argument for their candidate”.
“If their premise is that if you are deputy, then naturally you must be president, we are flouting the Constitution – because it says any member can contest for president. Their point of departure is problematic and needs to change.
“You are saying the presidency must be uncontested and the only person who must be available for the position is number two. The ANC does not work like that.”
Mahumapelo said his detractors were deliberately “tweaking” his views to create a mischievous impression that he was against Ramaphosa.
A leaked video of Mahumapelo addressing a meeting of North West and KwaZulu-Natal delegates during the policy conference was distributed to show factional behaviour.
Mahumapelo said that in these types of conferences, “chairpersons lead delegations”.
“I have been addressing our delegates every day inside the hall before we part ways. It was not a secret.
“We were then approached by KwaZulu-Natal to say instead of us addressing our delegates separately, why don’t we bring them together next to the hall.
“Now people circulate this thing like it is a secret meeting.”
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