The raging ANC succession battle has pitted the party’s presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu against the Women’s League over which female candidate is suitable to replace President Jacob Zuma.
On Tuesday the ANCWL came out guns blazing against Sisulu, accusing her of “populism and opportunism”.
This, after the Human Settlements Minister launched a presidential campaign at the weekend, and having reportedly said the league was undemocratic for favouring former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma over her.
In January, the ANCWL leadership held an extended national executive committee with provincial and regional leaders, where they decided to endorse Dlamini Zuma.
“I think it is wrong for them to say that. It is not only wrong, it is also undemocratic. Any candidate who is nominated by the branches can go to the ANC conference and stand for the position,” Sisulu was quoted as having said.
ANCWL secretary general Meokgo Matuba hit back at Sisulu, saying they noted with disdain the report attributed to her.
“The article purports Comrade Lindiwe being aggrieved by the decision taken by the duly constituted extended NEC meeting of the ANCWL to an extent where she labels the ANCWL as undemocratic,” she said.
In a veiled attack on Sisulu, Matuba warned against “politics of populism and opportunism”.
“Persuasion, not character assassination, labelling and name-calling, must be encouraged in particular by those with a desire to lead."
“The masses still need the ANC beyond the 2017 national elective conference for it to advance the National Democratic Revolution,” she said.
Although Matuba said the league would not be drawn into public spats with Sisulu or any leader, she “invited” the minister to approach her branch to raise any dissatisfaction.
“In case she is not an active member in any ANCWL branch, she can directly take the matter to the ANCWL regional structures or provincial structures within her area or make submissions to the office of the secretary general of the ANCWL,” she said.
“Like all submitted grievances, her grievances will be given the necessary attention through the internal processes and procedures of the organisation.”
Sisulu could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Makhosini Nkosi, Sisulu’s spokesperson on ANC matters, said: “We noted the statement but we will not be responding via the media.”
Matuba insisted that members who were unhappy with democratic decisions of the governing party and its leagues should use internal processes.
“Those with ambitions of being entrusted with responsibility of being at the helm of leading the ANC in December 2017, must lead by example in this regard,” Matuba said in apparent reference to Sisulu.
Sisulu unveiled what many interpreted as her manifesto for her presidential campaign last weekend after she availed herself for nomination at a cadres' forum meeting in East London a week ago.
ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete is also one of the preferred women leaders to take over from Zuma at the elective conference of the ANC in December.