Sexwale mum on presidential bid

South African politician-turned-tycoon Tokyo Sexwale said on Saturday the country’s president has a tough and thankless job, shying away from saying if he would make a run for the presidency.

“It’s not an easy job to do. Look at Thabo Mbeki. It’s a tough job ... and a thankless job. People don’t even appreciate what you do and they want to insult him in the streets,” Sexwale said.

Sexwale—one of South Africa’s richest men—has been lobbied to run for the presidency ahead of the December national congress of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), where delegates will select a new leader for the party, a position currently held by Mbeki.

The ANC has governed South Africa with a huge majority since the end of the apartheid era in 1994, but it has struggled with an unprecedented internal crisis since the controversial 2005 dismissal of Jacob Zuma as the country’s deputy president, still the deputy leader of the party.

The infighting has intensified this year as Zuma’s pro-labour supporters promise a ferocious battle to put their man in the top ANC job, while the pro-business wing of the party searches for an alternative candidate.

Sexwale said he would have to consult his wife and family and think very carefully should he be nominated for leadership at the ANC’s national conference. “I’m 54. My wife says, ‘Tokyo, is it really something that you want to think about?’. I have not answered that. I will answer those who come, and nobody has come to me.”

He added: “A person has got to think very, very carefully when you are nominated.”

Sexwale was speaking at a ceremony outside Drakenstein prison near Franschhoek, 80km east of Cape Town, from where former president Nelson Mandela was released in 1990 after 27 years in South African jails.

Mbeki is constitutionally bound not to accept a third term as president, but has not ruled out accepting a controversial third term as head of the ANC. The move is seen by many supporters of Zuma as a bid to keep him out of the presidential race.—Reuters



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