South Africa's Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday said he was “agonising” about whether to run against his boss, President Jacob Zuma, for leadership of the ruling African National Congress.
“I am still agonising over it,” he said just hours after the ANC-controlled province of Gauteng, the economic hub of the country, backed him to replace the increasingly unpopular Zuma as party president.
The party holds a leadership conference in just under three weeks and provinces are in the process of declaring who they want for top party posts.
Given the ANC's electoral dominance, the leader of the party is almost certain to become the next president at elections in 2014.
Motlanthe said the answer could only come once the ANC's regions had spoken.
“The question will be answered once it's posed by the right body,” he said when pressed to give an indication of whether he will run if he garners enough party support.
“I may not even be nominated for all you know, because the people who are making these announcements are not responsible for the process. They are doing so merely with the aim of influencing the process.”
Asked about his relationship with Zuma, Motlanthe - who repeatedly said that he is not a politician, but has “a political attitude” - replied: “He is my president. He has all the qualities of being a president of the ANC.”
Motlanthe, 63, served as a caretaker president for seven-and-half months to complete the term of ex-leader Thabo Mbeki, who was dramatically ousted from the party at its last elective conference in the northern city of Polokwane.
Respected as a man of integrity, Motlanthe admitted the party of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela risked losing its relevance to the majority of the South Africans unless it reformed.
“For the ANC to continue being relevant it has to perform better all the time and connect better with the communities.”
He bemoaned that the ANC was now being used, by some of its members, as a vehicle for accumulating vast personal wealth.
“The ANC is no longer attracting into its ranks those who are inspired by the call to serve”, but is becoming “a stepping stone towards personal gains”.
“We have not quite perfected the ability to defend or sustain the defining characteristics of the ANC as a liberation movement, and to some extent fallen prey to what we call the 'sins of incumbency'.
“That's why we are grappling to renew it.”
He admitted voting patterns have shifted over the years, from the post-apartheid euphoria to growing disaffection with Africa's oldest liberation movement.
“We found that when those who went into Cope (an ANC breakaway party), get disillusioned with it, they don't come back to the ANC, they go to the DA,” he said referring to the largest opposition, the Democratic Alliance. - Sapa-AFP