Durban - It is “highly likely” a woman will challenge Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in the race to replace President Jacob Zuma in 2017.
This is the view of ANC Women’s League president Angie Motshekga, who told The Mercury at the weekend there were several women in the league who were ready to take over the party’s and country’s presidencies.
Motshekga and Zuma were in Durban for Women’s Day celebrations at King Zwelithini Stadium in uMlazi.
Last year she told journalists that “pushing for a woman president would be fighting a losing battle”.
Motshekga said at the weekend South Africa had a long history of women leaders.
“There have always been suitable women. If you compare Charlotte Makgomo Maxeke to male leaders in 1912 there was no reason she should not have been a president. She was the first African woman to get a BSc degree and, in her own humble way, was the mother of our liberation,” she said.
ANC national executive member Bathabile Dlamini recently named two senior ANC woman leaders – African Union chairman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete – as suitable candidates for presidential office.
But Motshekga distanced the league from Dlamini’s favourites. “As an individual, she has a right to express her opinion.”
Motshekga said nominations for the position had not opened, but individuals were free to air their views and spark debate.
“I also have a right to my own view – it’s not the organisation’s position.”
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa were among ANC heavyweights at the Durban event.
Zuma said the country had seen a significant number of women ascend to senior positions.
“Female representation in the National Assembly has moved from 2.7 percent before 1994 to 41 percent.
“We are also moving closer to our target of having more women in the cabinet and the national executive. We had 20 men and 15 women ministers as well as 20 men and 17 women deputy ministers in May,” he said.
He said the presence of women was also being felt in the judiciary.
“The judiciary had two white women in 1994. Now there are 61 women judges, of whom 48 are black. This constitutes about 30 percent of the judiciary.”