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06 May 2014 09:53
Jacob Zuma says that South Africa and the ANC are ready to have a woman as president. (Gallo)
President Jacob Zuma on Monday said South Africa is ready for a woman president and that it could happen sooner than expected. Zuma’s remarks come a few weeks after the Mail & Guardian reported
that he and his supporters had
indicated an interest in promoting either his
ex-wife and chairperson of African Union commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or
ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete to succeed him as ANC president in 2017, and the
country’s president in 2019.
Both Mbete and Dlamini-Zuma
have accepted nominations as ANC representatives in Parliament after this
week’s general elections. The two women are regarded as senior in the ANC and
government, with Mbete having served as the country’s deputy president in 2008
and Dlamini-Zuma as home affairs minister for several years during Zuma’s
The M&G reported last week that
Mbete was earmarked for the position of second deputy president in Zuma’s administration after elections.
ANC insiders have previously
told the M&G that Zuma’s supporters, mainly from KwaZulu Natal, were planning to
push Dlamini-Zuma ahead of ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as the next
president because they did not trust the former trade unionist come businessperson Ramaphosa.
Zuma told journalists during
an ANC breakfast in Johannesburg on Monday that he would support the selection
of a woman president.
“The ANC has come in to say
women must be in power.
His remarks could suggest he
wanted Dlamini-Zuma or Mbete to succeed him and not Ramaphosa. They also
indicate that Zuma may not be interested in serving a third term as ANC
president. Unlike the country’s constitutional restrictions on the terms of a
president, the ANC allows its party presidents to serve more than two terms.
Former president Thabo Mbeki contested to serve for the third term as ANC
president in 2007, but was defeated by Zuma.
Mbeki vs ZumaIronically, Mbeki and his
supporters wanted a woman, preferably Dlamini-Zuma, to succeed Mbeki as the
country’s president in 2009. But he failed to maintain his term until 2009, as
he was forced out by the Zuma-led ANC national executive committee in 2008
after he was defeated by Zuma for the position of ANC president in 2007.
Dlamini-Zuma was on Mbeki’s cards for deputy ANC president in 2007, but was
defeated by deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, who was on Zuma’s slate at the time.
Before the ANC’s national
conference in Mangaung, ANC Women’s League president and Zuma’s close ally
Angie Motshekga said the country was not ready for a woman president. The women’s league under Motshekga supported Zuma’s re-election as ANC president in
2012. Cracks within the ANC are expected to show soon after the upcoming
elections as the re-alignment of factional groupings within the party begins.
Zuma, who is set to begin
his second term as president after Wednesday’s elections, on Monday said
contesting for elections within the ANC was healthy for the organisation
“This [contestation] is what
the ANC needs. But what needs to happen is for people to allow democratic processes.
We must afford members of the ANC space to choose their own leaders.
Contestation will happen in the next [coming] years. I will be at my Nkandla
[at that time]. But I will continue to contribute as an ordinary member of the
ANC,” said Zuma.
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