Durban - Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe has what it takes to be the next president of the ANC and the country.
This is according to political analysts, who described the senior ANC national executive committee member as someone with a long history of leadership in both the party and in the government.
The analysts were reacting to reports that Radebe had last week succumbed to pressure from his supporters to enter the ANC presidential race ahead of the party’s elective conference in December.
Sources said it was at a secret meeting held in Sandton last week where Radebe agreed to challenge outgoing AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
University of the Western Cape political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu said Radebe was fit to lead and unite the party, which was divided by slates, because he understood it.
“Jeff Radebe has occupied senior leadership positions both in the ANC and the SACP, which makes me believe that he has what it takes to take the position should he be nominated or should he be voted for it,” said Mngomezulu.
“He is one of the longest-serving members of Parliament under different administrations, and he has occupied a senior position in the Presidency."
"He understands the ins and outs of that office.”
A member of the ANC who attended the meeting in which Radebe is alleged to have accepted the nomination said Radebe’s lobbyists would intensify their campaign, which started last December, in preparation for the conference.
The source said that during the campaign, a list of Radebe’s national executive committee members “who are very senior party leaders” would be unveiled in a “few days’ time”.
Mngomezulu said for Radebe, Dlamini Zuma, Ramaphosa and ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete to avail themselves did not mean that they would automatically be candidates because they would still have to be nominated by branches.
Mbete had allegedly told the media early this month that she was also available for the position.
Radebe at the weekend delivered an impressive speech during the ANC national executive committee lekgotla.
Another political analyst, Daniel Silke, said Radebe would bring an “interesting new dynamic to the race”.
“He would be seen as a bridge-building candidate, as he is someone with sufficient respect from a number of formations within the ANC,” said Silke.
Xolani Dube, another analyst, said there were ANC members who were not happy with the contestation that had divided the party and “were asking who is the true leader who can lead the organisation”.
“Bear in mind that the leader is not only going to lead the ANC but is also going to lead the alliance, and is also going to lead society, who are the general voters of the ANC."
“Jeff is someone with ideological comprehension; he can reconcile the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu."
"Ideologically, he is clear,” said Dube.