Human Settlements Minister and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Lindiwe Sisulu says she is now ready to “favourably consider” any nomination for her to become the next president of the governing party.
Sisulu raising her hand will throw President Jacob Zuma’s silver bullet plan to fight factionalism with his proposed “loser becomes deputy” into disarray as it will mean the ANC will have at least four deputy presidents. The four other names vying for the ANC presidency are Cyril Ramaphosa, Nkosazana Dlamini, Mathews Phosa and Jeff Radebe for now.
Zuma, in his closing remarks at the national policy conference (NPC), threw his weight behind the proposal brought to the policy conference by his home province of Kwazulu-Natal, which suggested that a loser in the ANC presidential race be automatically accommodated in a deputy president position.
Another deputy would emerge from the original deputy president contest, KZN suggested.
Sisulu was first endorsed by an ANC branch in Keiskammahoek in March.
Until now, the ANC NEC member has refused to speak about whether or not she would be available for election when the governing party elects new leaders in December.
But on the last day of the NPC the ANC heavyweight said should more branches see her as fit to ascend to the ANC top job, she would avail herself.
Sisulu has cautioned ANC branches to thoroughly assess whether those nominated are fit beyond reproach for the job.
Horses for courses is the way, she said.
Her silence on the presidential race, said Sisulu, was out of respect for the policy conference to avoid it being overshadowed by elective conference battles.
“The bottom line is that the responsibility of members of the ANC, including me, is that when branches see you fit for a particular position you must consider it favourably,” said Sisulu.
“But at the same time branches must work out whether the person they want is the best person for that job.
“My displeasure is that the ANC allowed the leadership succession debate with names attached before the policy conference while we did not even know what we were looking for, because now it appears we tailored our policies to suit the outcome of the leaders’ names that have been chosen.
“What should have been done is that we come to the policy conference, work out what policies are in the best interest of the ANC and only then start talking about which leaders must drive the implementation of those policies.”
Sisulu expressed concern over the divisions and “fractures” in the governing party which came to the fore at the NPC when delegates sang about individual leaders’ names – something she felt could have been contained had the party clamped down on succession debates prior to the conference.
However, this is not the only thing that “perturbed” Sisulu, as she was also furious at president Zuma’s “off the script diversion” attacks on veterans during his political overview when he opened the conference last week.
She believes the attack was unnecessary and misguided, especially in a public platform, and Sisulu was hoping Zuma would reach out to veterans in his closing remarks – something he did not do. — firstname.lastname@example.org