Radebe formally stepped into the ANC presidential ring on Monday when he told ANC supporters he was “ready to serve”.
“I’m a servant of the people. I thank you for your confidence, your trust. I’m prepared to serve the people,” he said after addressing a Mandela lecture in Pretoria.
However, political commentators have questioned Radebe’s motives for entering the race, saying he does not have a discernible constituency within the ANC.
Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana said some of the candidates now running for the position are aware that they stand very little chance of making it but were contesting with the hope of using their support as a bargaining chip for other top positions in the party.
“It is not about what you stand for but it is about numbers. That is why someone like (Mpumalanga Premier) David Mabuza becomes an appealing candidate in terms of the (other) top six positions. Reputationally he is tainted but he brings numbers.”
Ndletyana believes Radebe might get enough support to push one of the leading candidates over the finish line and that could count in his favour, in terms of being considered for other positions.
A lobbyist for Radebe, Sipho Masuku, said Radebe’s campaign machinery was aiming to secure nominations from at least 900 ANC branches.
Some branches in KwaZulu-Natal regions like the Lower South Coast, Musa Dladla and Harry Gwala regions have indicated they would back Radebe once the nominations process kicks off in September, he claimed.
When news broke that Radebe would be running for the top ANC position, some members of the public used social media to poke fun at him, and even referred to a recent scandal in which he was embroiled.
In May it emerged that the 64-year-old Radebe had requested nude pictures from a 29-year-old female who worked in the Presidency. He later apologised to the country, his wife and to his family for what he called poor judgment on his part.
“Jeff Radebe throws his name into the hat. A nude day has dawned in SA politics,” tweeted @Khanetix_ on Tuesday.
However, Masuku said he did not believe the scandal would dent his chances, saying Radebe was among “the very few who has taken full responsibility for his mistake”.
Others who have indicated willingness to run for the position of ANC president include Lindiwe Sisulu, Baleka Mbete and Mathews Phosa.