It is not ANC policy for a deputy to ascend to the highest office. These are the words of President Zuma on thursday when he gave his first hint that he does not back his deputy Ramaphosa to succeed him.
He said this on SABC radio station.
Speaking to Motsweding FM‚ Lesedi FM‚ and Thobela FM last night‚ Zuma said it was not true that an ANC culture existed where a deputy must become president.
Although Zuma was responding to a question from a listener‚ he appeared to be punting outgoing AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma saying she had joined the struggle before before marrying him. He also listed her leadership achievements‚ including being a cabinet minister.
According to Zuma, the argument that it was ANC tradition for a deputy to become president was used to “motivate” for a candidate.
“Anyone who is nominated can contest. There is no policy. It’s not true that it’s a tradition”.
The President said it was a coincidence that former presidents Oliver Tambo‚ Nelson Mandela and Mbeki were succeeded by their deputies.
“I’m saying it’s not a policy and not an accepted tradition as such. It’s a statement that people just make not because it’s true.”
Zuma said on Thursday “it was an accident of history” that deputies became presidents.
He told the SABC that he was not available to serve another term as ANC president.
“I am not going to accept it [nomination for presidency]. I have done my two terms. This is the understanding that emerged within the ANC… We generally had an understanding that it will not be good to create two centres [of power] ….. it’s an understanding that you need the ANC to operate smoothly.”
Within ANC circles‚ Zuma is believed to prefer Nkosazana to succeed him.
He repeated a statement he made on Wednesday that the party was ready for a female president.
“In the ANC that is no longer the issue. It has been accepted that [women] can hold senior positions.”
He said it was not a concern for the Zuma family that his ex-wife Nkosazana may become president.
“Not at all. Nkosazana has been struggling before she became a Zuma. She has held a number of positions…. If the ANC says we think we can give you the responsibility it’s not at all a concern to the Zuma family.”
Zuma also spoke about the public protector’s state capture report‚ saying that he had taken the report to court because former public protector Thuli Madonsela had acted unfairly towards him.
Zuma repeated his claim that Madonsela did not give him enough time to respond to the questions‚ saying he felt the report was a rushed job.
“It was quite a funny way of making a report‚” said Zuma.