President Jacob Zuma says the ANC has been ready for some time to have a woman president and the discussion is no longer a sticking point for the ruling party.
He made these comments in an exclusive interview with SABC’s Nguni radio station to elaborate on the ANC’s January 8 statement on Wednesday night.
“It is no longer a discussion in the ANC whether a women can take a high leadership position or not. This discussion has been had before and the party agreed that anyone who is seen to have the qualities to lead the movement‚ there won’t be any problem for that person to do so‚” Zuma said.
“The ANC is ready for that‚ in fact the party has been ready for some time.”
He added: “If you look in government‚ women are holding key positions and you can see they are doing a good job… no one in the ANC is questioning whether a woman can be the president or not.
“It will depend on the integrity that she possesses and whether members see her fit for the position. We no longer look at whether the person is a woman or man. This is our belief in the ANC.”
Zuma also dedicated a lot of the interview to rebuking structures of the ANC for putting forward names of their preferred candidates to take over the leadership race of the party to the public.
“In June‚ we are going to a policy conference. We first talk about the things that we have to do first. When we have discussed our policy and programmes that we are going to do‚ then we can decide who is the person that we think can help achieve these programmes.
“People rush to give names for leadership…even leaders also just abruptly indicate their availability for leadership. They just say openly‚ ‘I don’t have any problem leading.’ People then start talking about the leadership race‚” he said.
Over the past week‚ ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has been urging members and structures of the party not to throw names into the leadership race as this caused a lot of division in the organisation.
Zuma used the radio interview to dismiss any hint of him vying for a third term.
“The current president has explained that he is not running for the third term. I am finishing a second term. There are many leaders in the ANC who must get an opportunity to lead… Even in the past‚ when the previous president wanted a third term‚ I was one of those who were not supporting that move. I cannot reject the move by another president and then do it myself.”