President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

President Jacob Zuma says the ANC and SA are ready for a woman as president and he will not contest party’s leadership at the elective conference in December.

Zuma was speaking on Wednesday evening during an hour-and-a-half interview broadcast on four of the SABC’s Nguni language stations, Ukhozi FM (Zulu), Umhlobo Wenene (Xhosa), Ligwalagwala FM (Swazi) and Ikwekwezi FM (Ndebele).

Zuma’s call for a woman president is widely seen as a tacit endorsement for his ex-wife, outgoing African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to succeed him as ANC president.

Recently, there was a small boy who was a leader of the ANC Youth League, he left the ANC after misbehaving, to form his own party

Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are expected to go head-to-head for the top job.

Trade union federation Cosatu has come out in support for Ramaphosa while the so-called "premier league" faction, led by the premiers of the Free State, Mpumalanga and the North West, and whose leaders and members have been vociferous in defending Zuma, is working hard behind the scenes to see to it that Zuma’s ex-wife succeeds him.

"We said it a long time ago, that all ANC members are equal and can stand for any positions in the organisation. Women have always played a critical role in the ANC. Now if a woman leader is competent enough, and ANC members think she is capable of taking a leadership position, there is nothing that can stop her," Zuma said in the interview.

"To answer the question as to whether I support a woman to become a president: I would have no problem to have a woman as my leader. I am open to this possibility, as long as the majority of ANC branches also think so by electing that woman to lead the organisation and our country," he said.

Zuma said he would not consider standing for re-election, even if he were nominated, "because this would create two centres of power".

"There was a time when one president tried to get a third term that would have created two centres of power because the country’s Constitution did not allow for one person to serve three terms as a president.

"I was against this then and I am against it now. I cannot be against it when another president does it and do the same thing myself," he said.

Zuma conceded that the ANC may have committed mistakes that cost it dearly during the recent local government elections.

He said breakaway parties like the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Congress of the People (COPE) and recently the EFF had been taking support from the ruling party.

"Recently, there was a small boy who was a leader of the ANC Youth League, he left the ANC after misbehaving, to form his own party. Some of his supporters followed him there," he said.

"But we believe that these supporters would return to the ANC once they realise that what they have been promised is false hope.

"It happened before with the UDM, COPE, whose members left the ANC but have now returned.

"We are also aware that some traditional ANC supporters decided not to cast their votes because they were dissatisfied about one issue or the other. This resulted in the reduction of our tally of the votes, although I think we still performed very well," he said.

Zuma said the ANC was listening to everyone, including the party’s veterans, to be told about its errors so that it could rectify them.

On the issue of perceptions of corruption within the top leadership of the ANC, he said: "People should be saying that there is corruption in SA but commending the ANC for exposing and fighting this corruption," he said.

"People must realise that the ANC government even built structures to expose and fight corruption. Even some ANC members have been found guilty and gone to jail for corruption."

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