By Angela Quintal

Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin believes that Jacob Zuma will have "great difficulty" in becoming the next ANC president, given his record.

Interviewed on the BBC's Hard Talk programme on Wednesday, Erwin stopped short of saying outright that Zuma was not the man for the job.

Having initially tried to duck a question on whether he believed Zuma should succeed President Thabo Mbeki, Erwin then came up against persistent interviewer Stephen Sack-ur.

"Do you think Jacob Zuma, a man whose behaviour both towards women and in terms of his financial probity has been under close scrutiny over the last couple of years, do you believe he is a man who could credibly lead South Africa?"

A cautious Erwin replied: "I think, on Jacob Zuma's record, I think that he will have great difficulty winning this election in the ANC."

On whether he would personally support Zuma for the job, Erwin also avoided any public endorsement of any potential succession candidate.

"All senior leaders of the African National Congress - I sit on the National Executive Committee - have undertaken each of us, that we would not comment on who we believe should be the leader.

"We will do it through the process that the ANC will conduct. I will do it then.

"I know what I will do, but I will do it through those processes," said Erwin.