Jacob Zuma raises hand to be ANC’s next national chairperson

In the midst of never-ending legal challenges, former president Jacob Zuma has agreed to contest the position of the national chairperson of the ANC.

As the party gears up for its 55th national elective conference in December, the pressure is mounting on those who wish to occupy the top six most contested positions.

The former statesman confirmed in a statement on Monday that he has been approached by some branches to run for the position of national chairperson. Zuma said if given the opportunity, he will not decline the position.

“I [also] wish to confirm that I have been approached by a number of cadres to make myself available for the position of national chairperson of the ANC, to contribute in the rebuilding of the organisation and to provide direction,” said Zuma.

“I have indicated that I will be guided by the branches of the ANC and that I will not refuse such a call should they deem it necessary for me to serve the organisation again at that level or any other.”

Zuma has also endorsed the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for president.

Without mentioning her name, Zuma said no one can match Dlamini-Zuma’s competency for the job. He maintained that this has been his view since the 54th national elective conference when Ramaphosa was sworn in as the ruling party’s president.

“There have been rumours in the public domain and the media about my leadership preferences for the upcoming conference. I wish to indicate that I have not shifted from the position we had taken in 2017…

“The candidate that we supported in 2017, at the 54th national conference, remains the most capable to lead the ANC given her track record in the movement and government, leadership capabilities and qualities, and her understanding and knowledge of the ANC, amongst others.

“I have heard some comrades raising some issues with regards to her, but unfortunately they all dismally failed to present a better candidate with better credentials than hers except those who have a lot of money.

“Unfortunately, it is not those that have a lot of money that counts, on the contrary it is those who have the capabilities to help lead the ANC and are trustworthy to the principles and policies of the ANC.”

Plans to save the ANC 

Speaking about the ANCs political state, Zuma said he has been consulting with some leaders and has shared his views on what needs to be done to revitalise the ANC.

“I would like to clarify a few issues and share my perspective as the preparations gain momentum. It is a well-known fact that the ANC faces serious organisational challenges which it should overcome for it to regain its place as the leader of South African society and the beacon of hope for the majority of people in our country.

“I have, in spite of the difficulties caused by my current legal situation, been having consultations with leaders of the ANC at various levels, who have sought my views on the conference and what needs to be done to rebuild the ANC.

“While the conference should deliver policies that will take the country forward on its transformative journey from apartheid colonialism to a national democratic society, the question of the type of leaders that should emerge to lead this mission is of paramount importance,” said Zuma.

Zuma suggested that better results would be attained if the younger and older generations of leaders collaborated. “We need to revive the ANC of old, where branches nominated and selected people based on the requirements of the organisation at that particular period or epoch rather than resources at their disposal.

“Comrades, we have noted the current call for older leaders to make way for the youth. In the past few years, a call was made for a generational mix, a fusion of younger and older leaders to enrich the movement. As a result, many younger leaders were elected into the national executive committee.

“I also appointed a number of younger leaders as cabinet ministers and deputy ministers as part of the mission of building a pool of leaders that could take the movement and government forward in implementing the progressive policies of the ANC.

The 80-year-old said he believes that a generational fusion would work better, although many people are advocating for a generational shift in leadership where young people are trusted to lead.

Zuma said the party suffered a great loss during the 2019 and 2021 elections under the leadership of young leaders.

“The younger leaders need to conduct an introspection and ask themselves what they have achieved in the various areas which would warrant the call for a generational takeover rather than a generational mix.

“The ANC suffered devastating electoral losses in the local government elections in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal while the province was led by the younger generation of leaders. The notion of a generational mix rather than a generational takeover remains valid in my view.”

Zuma added: “The upcoming conference provides an opportunity for the ANC to be returned to its rightful owners, the membership, and to extricate it from the invisible but powerful forces that use it to entrench privilege and protect the status quo domestically and globally.

“These forces are determined to keep the black majority economically subjugated to protect their ill-gotten gains. A stronger and united ANC is a serious threat to their hegemony.

“We look forward to a successful conference that will put us on the path towards achieving a stronger and united ANC that will take forward the delayed reconstruction and development of our country.

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