THE ANC will have a difficult time choosing a successor to President Jacob Zuma as both the competing candidates have desirable qualities, says chairman of the party in KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala.
Although the ANC has no term limits for its presidency, it is believed current president Jacob Zuma will not seek a third term.
Zikalala was referring to African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who find themselves on the opposite sides of the party’s succession war.
Zikalala is one of the most influential figures in the ANC as he leads the party’s largest province in terms of membership. He appeared to have backtracked on earlier calls to support Ramaphosa to take over the party’s reins in 2017.
In an interview with Business Day in November 2014, Zikalala, who was then the provincial secretary of the party, said he did not have a problem “personally” with Ramaphosa succeeding Zuma in 2017.
He said it brought unity when a person who was second to the president ascended to the presidency.
But on Tuesday, Zikalala was not as forthright, saying Dlamini-Zuma was just as worthy of the post. The ANC would next year “be faced with a problem of choosing the best among the best”.
“Comrade Nkosazana and comrade Cyril are the best cadres of the organisation and, come 2017, the ANC will be faced with a problem of choosing the best among the best,” Zikalala said.
Dlamini-Zuma has been in KwaZulu-Natal this week, campaigning ahead of the province’s manifesto launch set to take place in Pietermaritzburg this weekend.
When reminded of his earlier stance, Zikalala said the issue of leadership “was not subjected to personal feelings”, it was the collective decision of the ANC.
The party’s women’s and youth wings are said to be supporting Dlamini-Zuma. The premiers of Mpumalanga, the Free State and the North West provinces are also said to be pushing for her election. Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete, appeared to have thrown her hat into the ring in April when the AmaHlubi in the Western Cape reportedly said they had discussions with the national ANC chairwoman about her presidential ambitions. But Zikalala spoke only of two candidates.
Zikalala was appointed KwaZulu-Natal’s economic development and tourism MEC during a cabinet reshuffle in the province on Monday that was seen by some to be a purge of those who backed former premier Senzo Mchunu.
Zikalala replaced Mike Mabuyakhulu, who appeared on Mchunu’s slate at the province’s November conference. Zikalala asked how it could be called a purge when only four MECs were removed.
The party embraced those who were critical of it and would ensure that there was “maximum unity and coherence” between the ANC and the provincial government.