Johannesburg - It would be a mistake for two women to be pitted against each other in the ANC’s succession, said ANC International Relations subcommittee chairperson and ANC Women’s League national executive committee member Edna Molewa.
Although the ANC’s nomination process for presidential nominations is yet to officially start, the names of three women - Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Baleka Mbete and Lindiwe Sisulu - have been bandied about along with Cyril Ramaphosa as possible candidates to replace Jacob Zuma when he steps down as ANC president in December.
Molewa, in a wide ranging interview with News24 on the party’s international policies and the succession debate, said women in the ANC needed to be careful not to be seen as though they were competing against one another and thus dividing votes among themselves.
“It would be a big mistake for two women to be put together, against two men or even one man,” she said.
If it's two women who emerge as two women [in the race], only then will there be nothing wrong, Molewa said.
But she said it would also not be “nice” if women had to split their preferences because women were competing against one another.
“As women, we are still fighting our own struggles of arriving at full liberation and therefore it is necessary that in whatever we do, we get extremely careful about not exposing ourselves,” said Molewa.
The ANC Women's league has endorsed Dlamini-Zuma as their presidential candidate for the December elective conference. It will be the first time that a woman is a candidate in the party's presidential race.
Women have always been ready to lead
While the League argued while lobbying for Dlamini-Zuma that it was time for a woman to lead, Molewa argued that women have always been ready.
“We can’t say now it’s our time. Our time has always been there,” said Molewa.
She added that both the country and the ANC were ready for female leadership when they left the trenches and returned to a liberated South Africa.
“If we were to elect a female leader now, a woman secretary general [something we have never had] it would not be a mistake,” she said.
Molewa said there were many capable men and women to take over from Zuma because they had been trained to fulfill the task throughout the years when they were in the trenches [exile].
She said factions that have divided the ANC were not surprising.
Molewa said there were signs of an attempt at regime change in South Africa.
She used Brazil, which impeached President Dilma Rouseff for illegally manipulating government accounts, as an example.
Molewa claimed the electorate was happy with the Rouseff presidency, which had announced that it had conquered poverty. Civil society had also supported the government, she said.
"Something happened, an invasion into the civil society which led to various marches linked to what we are beginning to see happen here in SA. Civil society that is not quite South African," Molewa said.
She said there was a new introduction of other forms of NGOs, which have gone so far as to take the form of judges in the sense that they were taking on constitutional issues.
She also criticised international trips by media and opposition parties, saying they didn't know whether money had come into the country as a result of those meetings.
President being heckled
In expressing some disdain towards the media, she criticised the way the ruling party was often portrayed. Molewa said even on Freedom Day, which marked the first democratic elections in the country 23 years ago, the media highlighted the party’s failings and slow delivery to around “15%” of the population instead of the achievements it had made in areas such as provision of water and connecting homes to the electricity grid.
“Do the right things, let’s say the truth where it's supposed to be said."
Molewa, who recently penned an opinion piece praising the president, defended the fight against corruption, telling News24 that many had been arrested but were hardly talked about in the media.
One of Cosatu’s founding members, Molewa was outspoken about scenes of the president being heckled at a recent May Day Rally by the labour federation.
“I’ve never seen anything like this...never ever contemplated that anything like this could happen,” she said.
"I don’t think we saw the rejection of the president. If the president of the ANC was rejected by Cosatu, then we have a very big problem," she said.
Molewa hit out at unions which claimed Zuma was imposed on the workers, sharing her own previous experience in the organisation. She said his name should have come up at a plenary meeting and that those who objected to his presence at the rally knew the necessary steps they had to take to make their voices heard.
She said the relationship between the alliance partners had come under scrutiny several times, with some attempting to divorce the organisations from one other, but that every attempt had been unsuccessful.
“From time to time, when people feel that they are overwhelmed, that certain things aren’t being done correctly, or feel that they themselves are not doing certain things correctly, [they] will obviously voice those kinds of desires,” said Molewa.
"But whether they should be done out there, in that manner, I don’t think so."
Molewa said the alliance had a way of doing things and talking among each other.