The candidacy of Lindiwe Sisulu for President of the African National Congress, has thrown a spanner in the works for the party’s Women’s League, which had already pronounced that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was its preferred candidate.
Sisulu was on the campaign trail this weekend, and her first stop was an ANC Women’s League meeting in the Eastern Cape. She told the meeting that she would be available for the top position in the governing party, positioning herself as the right person to revive it, after what has been a bruising eight years.
The Dlamini-Zuma campaign has not gathered significant momentum, while Speaker Baleka Mbete has only recently expressed interest in the party’s top job. If the Sisulu campaign gathers more steam in coming weeks, the members of the Women’s League might need to have a rethink on what the path of the organization should be, despite having publicly pronounced on Dlamini-Zuma.
“I have asked myself, as the organization is facing all these challenges, what would I say my role has been, and the answer is whatever the ANC would like me to do, I am available,” said Sisulu this weekend.
“I have said in the past, if they want me to scrub the floor I’ll do that. If they want me to lead them, I am ready to do that. I am here now. It’s going to be a daunting task, but I am also asking those who nominated me to stand with me,” added Sisulu, whose ambitions have become increasingly clear in recent months.
And the reality is that she is becoming a more attractive option for a party that is sure to encounter deeper divisions, as Cyril Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma battle it out in the ‘President Zuma strongholds’. There are already signs in many of those regions that the tide is turning against Dlamini-Zuma and the outcome probably won’t be pretty.
The governing party might emerge from that situation more bruised than it was before. Sisulu, who has a great name, could be the ideal compromise candidate for this position.