Motlanthe hints that he’s ready to run

2012-10-12 06:33

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has given the clearest indication yet that he is willing to be nominated as president ahead of the ANC’s national elective congress in Mangaung in December.

Speaking at the launch of his biography in a packed Wits Great Hall in Johannesburg last night, Motlanthe drew loud cheers from the audience by saying he would want his tombstone to read “others made suggestions, and he implemented”.

So far Motlanthe has been hesitant about speaking out about whether he would stand for president, and he remained cryptic in this speech.

Motlanthe used the word “change” very often, which resonated with the language his lobbyists have been using.

He said: “I did not want a book that is only about positive issues because I think if there is any value from the book, it is if it succeeds in generating debates, undermining our fixed positions, undermining us and everyone else, and to question the underpinnings of our institutions. Because if not, we won’t serve as a raising agent for change.”

Motlanthe also spoke about an Italian school he visited on Wednesday, where children were taught literacy in innovative ways.

He said “many of our problems come from rigidity, yet the world is ever-changing”. He said children should, from an early age, learn that things are “always changing”.

When he mentioned the word “change”, the crowd reacted with cheers and song. They also sang songs praising former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, Motlanthe’s comrade of 25 years, said the book came out at a time when the “space is being complicated” because of the debates in the run-up to Mangaung.

Mantashe, who is associated with President Jacob Zuma’s campaign for re-election, told the somewhat hostile crowd, “I normally change them quite early”. A youth league member said this was a swipe at Malema.

ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who both want to see Zuma out, also attended. Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada and human rights lawyer George Bizos were there too, along with many of Motlanthe’s old comrades and family members.

Author Ebrahim Harvey, however, said the book experienced several delays and it was coincidence that it came out as nominations for the ANC leadership battle opened.

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