Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu addresses members of the media during the ANC's 5th policy conference in Nasrec, Soweto. She also has her eye on the presidency. Picture: Itumeleng English/ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - ANC presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu has slammed the two-horse race model, saying it has factionalised the ANC.

On the contrary, she believes having many candidates jockeying for the party’s top position will not complicate the race and leave members confused.

“The two-horse race is the one that has factionalised the ANC the most, current and previous. (Kgalema) Motlanthe was very badly treated at that particular conference (in Mangaung, in 2012).

“I do know that the traditional two-horse race has factionalised the ANC," she said on Friday in an interview with The Sunday Independent.

Motlanthe lost to Zuma at the 2012 Mangaung conference in a bruising elective battle that saw some of those in his camp purged from government.

Apart from her, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and former Mpumalanga premier Mathews Phosa have all thrown their hats into the ring for the presidential position. Sisulu said having multiple candidates would help mend the factionalism plaguing the ANC.

“I actually think that democracy is deepening in the ANC, and gone are the days when there was just one or two people standing. There’s a wider space for people to choose from.

“And I think that there’s a particular generation of leaders that have either come of age, and have opened themselves for persuasion or have been persuaded.”

On Wednesday, Sisulu told the Independent Media that she was taken aback by President Jacob Zuma’s pronouncement of a power-sharing proposal that will see whoever comes second in the presidential race become the deputy president.

Dlamini Zuma was quick to express her support for the proposal, but Sisulu said it was “so unfortunate” that this was introduced when “the water has been muddied (and that) branches are likely to receive it with scepticism”.

She reiterated this stance on Friday. “I sincerely believe that we should have not allowed the race to run before the conference because it soured the environment around the conference.

“The conference was not about issues, it was about which side is pushing what issue.”

Sisulu’s political views, and stand on the need to root out corruption and improve service delivery, are similar to those of Ramaphosa.

She would not answer questions on whether she would consider forming an alliance with Ramaphosa, only saying: “Talk about questions that pertain to me and not the deputy president. It’s unfair.”

Sisulu also would not entertain questions regarding her prospects at this stage, saying she preferred to allow the branches to talk.

“I have been allowing the branches to do the talking

"I am not the one who stood and said, ‘Please come and rope me in’. I didn’t nominate myself, and I think those questions must go to the branches.”

Also last week, Sisulu called for the sacking of the so-called Gupta ministers who have been linked to the cache of e-mails implicating cabinet ministers, provincial premiers and senior executives of state-owned entities to the controversial family.

She said on Friday: “I think there has been enough harm done to the organisation and the government, and we should not have allowed it to continue.

"Some form of internal disciplinary process should have been put in place very quickly.

“The ministers (implicated) should have been called and those who feel that they have been unduly tried in the public domain would have the space to explain (themselves)," Sisulu said.

“But if anybody (is found to be responsible for some wrongdoing), the ANC has the responsibility to do something.

"It’s not about individuals. It’s about the health of the organisation and the country.”

She said she was not apologetic about her call as it is within her right as a member of the ANC national executive and national working committees.

“I have the right to express myself when I see that the ANC is bleeding. I will tell it as I see it because it’s my responsibility to protect the organisation all the time.

“And based on the question, ‘what’s going on', I expressed myself in the most fearless way possible”

Sisulu, who is among the few ministers who served in the Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma administrations, was at pains to explain that the ANC needed to recapture its stature.

“There have also been murmurs, especially from the opposition, that no liberation movement/party lives more than 20 years, which is absolute nonsense.

“But having assessed what the people said over the last few months, especially in the last local government elections, some of our people aren’t happy.

"For me, it’s important that we bring back the ANC that everybody believed in which was impeccable when the ratings in society and in the world were extremely high.

“Whether it’s Nkosazana (Dlamini Zuma), Cyril (Ramaphosa), Baleka (Mbete), myself or anybody, if those people can bring back the character of the ANC and make sure the ANC retains its previous stature within our society, internationally, I would be a happy person.”

Sunday Independent