Zuma says family ties to ex-wife are not a concern in ANC presidential race

President Jacob Zuma says he believes ratings agencies are not being unusually hard on South Africa. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma says he believes ratings agencies are not being unusually hard on South Africa. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma says Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s personal ties to him do not discredit her credibility as a leader.

“She has grown in the struggle. She has held a number of positions. 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 so far as the Zuma family is concerned,” he said.

Zuma was responding to a question asked by a member of a public during a wide-ranging interview aired on some SABC radio stations yesterday.

Dlamini-Zuma is one of the forerunners for the position of ANC president. The elective conference takes place in December. She has already received the backing of some in the ANC Women’s League, although there is division in the league with some members arguing that there are other capable women who could be presidential candidates.

Dlamini-Zuma is understood to also enjoy the support of the so-called premier league, which is Zuma-aligned and led by Free State Premier Ace Magashule, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Concerns have been raised that Zuma may be trying to play the family card to avoid possible prosecution after his term is up.

But he said even if Dlamini-Zuma were to succeed him, she would have earned the position through her years of experience.

ANC succession

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has been touted as another strong contender to succeed Zuma as party president. 

While some in the ANC have argued that Ramaphosa should succeed Zuma in line with ANC tradition, others have argued that the ANC is a democratic party that allows any member in good standing to be elected.

Zuma said it was wrong to claim that the party’s tradition was to have its deputy president succeed its president. He claimed that in cases where ANC presidents had been succeeded by their deputies had been mere coincidences.

“It’s not a policy, it’s not even like an accepted tradition as such. It has just happened that at a given times certain people, with the kind of understanding from other comrades felt ‘well this one could stand,” he said.

“The ANC is a democratic organisation. Any person who is a members in good standing and other comrades have proposed that person to become the president, he has a right,” Zuma said.

Fixing the ANC

After suffering an unexpected loss of support in the 2016 municipal elections, Zuma said the ANC had vowed to renew itself and regain the confidence of its supporters. 

The party had identified areas of unhappiness among voters and would be addressing them. “For an example, some have said: ‘Look, the manner in which we had been arguing internally as an organisation, they did not like it’.”

Zuma repeated calls made at the party’s 105th birthday celebrations in Soweto last weekend for unity and discipline in the ANC, especially ahead of a eventful year for the party.

“That is worrying if, from time to time, there are violations of that discipline. We would want to ensure that all members of the ANC adhere to the discipline of the ANC, that has been the culture of the ANC.”

In reference to the women’s league, Zuma said this discipline pertained even to structures making public pronouncements on their preferred presidential candidates before the succession debate has been formally opened.

‘Too much talk’

Speaking on South Africa’s economy Zuma said he believed the country had drawn the attention of credit rating agencies largely because of “too much talking” and taking a vocal stance on a number of issues.

“Because in South Africa we raise things, we talk too much. That’s why they pay more attention. I think being so vocal in some sense called their attention,” he said.

“Naturally in other countries they will look for economic kind of conditions. But if there is a lot of talk they think there is some discussions that they feel are sort of impacting on the economy — of course that will in a sense call them.”

Zuma did not elaborate on the specific discussions that had drawn the attention of ratings agencies.

But his 2015 decision to fire then finance minister Nhalnhla Nene and replace him with backbencher Des Van Rooyen sent South Africa’s economy into a tailspin. 

Yet Zuma said he believed the ratings agencies were merely doing their jobs and were not being unusually hard on South Africa.

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