GAYE DAVIS and Shain Germaner

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma says that if the ANC tells him it no longer wants him to serve as party leader, he will “walk away”.

Zuma told Talk Radio 702 presenter Redi Tlhabi in an interview yesterday that he’d not had an “appetite” for being ANC boss and president of the country, but he was “not serving reluctantly”, because “when the ANC says you serve, you serve”.

Zuma’s leadership is under the spotlight as the ANC’s national elective conference in Mangaung in December draws closer.

“If the ANC says ‘Don’t serve’ today, I will walk away,” he told Tlhabi.

In an hour-long interview, Zuma defended Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga over textbook delivery failures in Limpopo and his executive’s plans to put the judiciary under scrutiny for its role in transformation.

No arm of government could be left alone, Zuma said. “Whether you talk about the legislature, the executive or the judiciary – these are three very vibrant arms of government. To say one is going to be left unattended to is incorrect,” he said.

Claiming to be an open book, Zuma took questions from the public, with the Limpopo textbook debacle dominating most of the interview. He said it was counterproductive to blame Motshekga for thousands of Limpopo pupils being unable to study.

“We don’t know who is responsible.” Zuma conceded it was Motshekga’s job to find out.

When it came to the subject of former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, Zuma said he was unwilling to devote much comment to him. However, he said he would not retract his 2005 comment that Malema was a potential leader.

Regarding Jackie Selebi’s being granted medical parole, announced last week, Zuma denied there had been any preferential treatment for the disgraced former police commissioner. Stringent institutional bodies had granted Selebi’s medical parole, as had been the case with Schabir Shaik, Zuma said, referring to his former financial adviser.

He thanked the public and the media for highlighting local government corruption. The government intended curbing wasteful expenditure.

Zuma said police corruption was one of the greatest challenges because of difficulties in identifying corrupt officers.

On the ANC leadership succession debate, he denied attempts to speak out against his candidacy were stifled.

He said ANC members should not be negative about their leaders. There would be chances to nominate potential candidates.