President Jacob Zuma on Thursday defended outgoing African Union Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s leadership credentials and said her becoming African National Congress (ANC) leader would not pose a problem.
“If the ANC says we think that we can give you this responsibility, that is not a concern at all so far as the Zuma family is concerned,” Zuma said during an interview broadcast on three South African Broadcasting Corporation radio stations.
He was responding to a listener’s question if he was worried about the ANC presidency being passed from one Zuma to another.
She is considered one of the front runners to replace her ex-husband when the governing party holds its elective conference in December.
She would likely run against ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who had received endorsement from tripartite alliance member the congress of South African Trade Unions. The trade union federation previously successfully lobbied for Zuma to become ANC president at the party’s Polokwane and Mangaung conferences in 2007 and 2012.
“She has held a number of positions. She has been a minister. There is no question at all,” Zuma said, referring to her abilities as a leader.
She was an anti-apartheid struggle leader before they got married. The couple had four children and divorced in 1998.
“Nkosazana has been struggling even before she was a Zuma. She was struggling from her student days and has grown in the struggle,” Zuma said.
Dlamini-Zuma was involved in protest politics during her student days at the University of Zululand, now University of KwaZulu-Natal.
She has served as minister of foreign affairs and health under former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. She was home affairs minister in Zuma's first administration, before being elected African Union commission chair in July 2012.
She is expected to return to South Africa when the continental body elects a new commission chair at the end of January.
Speaking on a Gauteng radio station on Wednesday, Zuma said the ANC had long been ready for a woman president.
Zuma’s interview was broadcast on Motsweding, Lesedi, and Thobela FM.