Deputy secretary-general of the ANC Jessie Duarte (third from right in the front row) walks with Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as she greets the crowd during an ANC Women’s League rally at the Solomon Mahlangu Stadium in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga. Picture: ANA

KwaMhlanga - Former African Union Commission chairwoman Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma must become the next president of the African National Congress (ANC) because she does not talk too much, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said on Saturday.

“The time has come for a leader who does not talk too much. We need a leader who will not talk too much. That leader is Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,” said Duarte while addressing a crowd of about 5,000 people during the rally of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) at the Solomon Mahlangu Stadium in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga.

Duarte also appealed to the members of the ANC and its leagues to be united for the sake of the organisation.

Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa are frontrunners in a race to be elected next ANC president at the organisation’s elective conference to be held next month.

The rally was part of the launch of the ANCWL’s programme called Lotjha Makhelwane (a Ndebele phrase meaning Hello neighbour).

ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini addresses the crowd during the league’s rally at the Solomon Mahlangu Stadium in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga. Picture: ANA

Addressing the same gathering, ANCWL president and Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini said the programme was aimed at, amongst other things, helping poor people to get relevant documents so that they could register for social grants.

“Let us stand up, parents. Your neighbour must not be hungry while you are there,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini said the ANCWL would make sure that Dlamini Zuma emerged victorious from the conference.

“There is someone who always says the deputy president of the ANC must be the next president of the party. We don’t know where this person got that from. Now is the time for a woman president.”

Dlamini-Zuma, who delivered the keynote address at the same rally, appealed for peace during the build-up to and at the ANC conference. “We are asking you, branches and leaders, to let our conference be peaceful,” she said.

Meanwhile, a group of about 200 supporters of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa also held a rally in KwaMhlanga on Saturday, about 200 metres away from the stadium where the ANCWL's rally being held.

Some of the people at the Ramaphosa supporters’ rally told the African News Agency (ANA) that they decided to stage their own gathering there because they disapproved of the ANCWL rally, but did not reveal reasons for their disapproval.

“That thing [ANCWL rally] is not part of our organisation. The ANC is here in our rally. We don’t even know what is happening there,” said Ramaphosa supporter David Ntuli.

Another Ramaphosa backer, Sydney Mashaba, said another reason for holding their own gathering was that they could not travel to Mbombela, about 375km away, where Ramaphosa also addressed a rally on Saturday.

ANC Nkangala regional spokesman Sello Matshoga said he was aware of ANC members who staged a rally outside the stadium, but said he would comment "later".