Zuma backs Nkosazana

Gloves off as he says time for a woman leader

The Star Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BALD­WIN ND­ABA AND LUYOLO MKENTANE bald­win.nd­aba@inl.co.za luyolo.mkentane@inl.co.za

BACK­ERS of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s bid to be­come ANC leader – and ul­ti­mately the coun­try – re­ceived a ma­jor boost last night when Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma de­clared that the party was “ready for a woman pres­i­dent”.

The move, seen as Zuma anoint­ing Dlamini Zuma as his likely suc­ces­sor, could plunge the ANC into fur­ther suc­ces­sion con­tro­versy and mark the start of se­ri­ous con­tes­ta­tion within the party to re­place the out­go­ing leader.

Zuma on Wed­nes­day told lis­ten­ers of Ukhozi FM that he wasn’t go­ing for a third term, end­ing spec­u­la­tion about his fu­ture.

Last night on three SABC ra­dio sta­tions, with a com­bined lis­ten­er­ship of 10 mil­lion, Zuma ap­peared to en­dorse Dlamini Zuma, and dis­missed talk that it was tra­di­tion in the ANC for a deputy pres­i­dent to au­to­mat­i­cally re­place the pres­i­dent when he leaves.

This could be the clear­est in­di­ca­tion yet that Zuma will go with the ANC Women’s League, Youth League and oth­ers who have al­ready en­dorsed Dlamini Zuma.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion whether the ANC or the coun­try was ready for a woman pres­i­dent, Zuma replied: “I think it is. The ANC has laid the charge in­so­far as pro­mot­ing the em­pow­er­ment of women, and they are in very key lead­er­ship out­side of the govern­ment. In the ANC it is no longer an is­sue. It has been ac­cepted they can hold any kind of po­si­tion.”

He said the is­sue of a woman oc­cu­py­ing a key po­si­tion within the ANC was not new. “The mat­ter was raised dur­ing the Polok­wane con­fer­ence in 2007. Women wanted to oc­cupy the po­si­tion of deputy pres­i­dent dur­ing that con­fer­ence but did not suc­ceed,” he said.

When a caller asked why Dlamini Zuma – the out­go­ing AU Com­mis­sion chair­per­son – should be con­sid­ered for the job, Zuma said she had the qual­i­ties to lead.

“Nkosazana has been strug­gling even be­fore she was a Zuma, she’s been strug­gling from her stu­dent days, and she’s held a num­ber of po­si­tions. She’s been a min­is­ter, there’s no ques­tion at all. If the ANC says we think we can give you this re­spon­si­bil­ity and she agrees, that’s not a con­cern at all. Not at all, in­so­far as the Zuma fam­ily is con­cerned,” he said.

Adding to the con­tro­versy, Zuma told mil­lions of lis­ten­ers it wasn’t ANC tra­di­tion that the deputy pres­i­dent would au­to­mat­i­cally be­come pres­i­dent.

“There’s noth­ing that says once you’re deputy pres­i­dent then it’s a fore­gone con­clu­sion. I’m just say­ing it’s not a pol­icy; it’s not even an ac­cepted tra­di­tion.

“The ANC is a demo­cratic or­gan­i­sa­tion. Any per­son who is a mem­ber in good stand­ing, and other com­rades pro­pose that per­son to be­come pres­i­dent, he has a right, whether he has been deputy pres­i­dent or not. It is not an is­sue.

“Al­though it has hap­pened be­fore, not be­cause it is dic­tated by pol­icy, it has hap­pened be­cause those peo­ple who might have come one af­ter the other might have fit­ted… It’s an ac­ci­dent of his­tory. Any­one has a right to stand. If he’s fit for that po­si­tion and in good stand­ing, he can be nom­i­nated,” Zuma said.

He was adamant that it was not the tra­di­tion of the ANC for deputy pres­i­dents to re­place the in­cum­bent, say­ing it was not ANC pol­icy.

“There’s no pol­icy, it’s not true that it’s a tra­di­tion. Peo­ple say it has hap­pened on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions where the deputy pres­i­dent be­comes pres­i­dent. That’s not a tra­di­tion. It is the way peo­ple mo­ti­vate for the names that they want,” he said.

Asked to com­ment on Zuma’s state­ment, ANC spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said he did not lis­ten to the ra­dio in­ter­view.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Pro­fes­sor So­madoda Fikeni de­scribed Zuma’s readi­ness for an ANC woman pres­i­dent as a “diplo­matic an­swer”, say­ing he might be sup­port­ing a prin­ci­ple.

“It’s a sig­nal that he was in­clined to sup­port a woman and that he was likely to throw his weight be­hind a woman,” he said.

How­ever, Fikeni warned that Zuma’s en­dorse­ment was likely to lead to the ANC’s leagues also mak­ing pro­nounce­ments on their pre­ferred can­di­dates.

“It’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for the ANC to stop them from mak­ing any pro­nounce­ments,” he said.

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