President Jacob Zuma, who is also president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), has condemned the recent tendency of discussing the party’s leadership succession before the period is opened, including ANC leaders who he says are obsessed with positions.

President Zuma was addressing thousands of ANC supporters gathered in KwaDukuza, a town in KwaZulu-Natal Province, located some 77 kilometres northeast of here, as a gathering to mark the party’s 105th anniversary celebrations.

ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize and some members of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC), including Malusi Gigaba, Nathi Mthethwa, Siyabonga Cwele and former KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu attended Sunday’s provincial-level celebrations.

Zuma said it was premature for party members to discuss and pronounce in public their preferred candidates ahead of the ANC National Conference later this year, before the official nomination period has been opened.

He also stressed the importance of unity in the organisation, saying: There is a tendency, we don’t know how we are going to deal with it, people are obsessed with positions, and they are positioning themselves to be elected through slates.

“We must refrain from discussing leadership contestation for now; the time has not come as yet. If you do that you are showing us what type of a leader you are — whether a unifying leader or distracting leader.

President Zuma also said the ANC is busy reviewing guidelines of selecting party candidates to ensure that alleged manipulation of the candidate selection does not happen in future.

In some areas the party did not do well in last August’s local government elections as a result of the alleged manipulation of the candidate selection process.

We have seen and heard concerns by our people that we forced candidates down their throats. We are busy crafting plans to deal with that. We even heard that there are some who think they are clever by manipulating the process,” he added.

In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) earlier on Sunday, President Zuma spoke about a number of issues about the ANC, among them the issue of the ruling party’s succession debate.


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