Mzansi’s female presidents-in-waiting

2015-04-21 12:10

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Is SA likely to have a female president? The country is becoming more patriarchal, and ambitious men are pushing back on quotas and don’t seem to want to give up their spots to female candidates despite the country being rich in female talent. Ferial Haffajee picks her top five

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

The frontrunner. There is no woman more seasoned than the African Union Commission chairperson to take a tilt at becoming South Africa’s first female president. As a former foreign minister, Dlamini-Zuma is a seasoned diplomat with relationships and networks throughout the world. The medical doctor pioneered free primary healthcare for women and children when she served as health minister. She is an experienced politician with a sterling pedigree in the liberation movement, and technocratic governing skills. She is highly regarded as an elder stateswoman in the ANC and has provincial support.

Dlamini-Zuma’s only negative trait, as far as we can see, is that she lacks humour and can be dour. But perhaps what we need now is a serious-minded president.

Lindiwe Sisulu

It has long been said that the Sisulu clan, who have given of their finest sons and daughters to liberate and then govern South Africa, would like a go at the top seat.

Now serving for a second time as the minister of human settlements, Sisulu has been in charge of the public service, intelligence and defence. This makes her one of Cabinet’s more seasoned troopers.

Sisulu is a no-nonsense woman. She tells it like it is and has proven she is able to take on vested interests. She has princess tendencies, but that should not disqualify her from a run at the ANC presidency. Sisulu may fall short in that she is not a campaigner and in the governing party of today, the ability to get mud on your boots on the trail is a distinct plus.

Thuli Madonsela

It is not even a remote possibility, but wouldn’t a presidency led by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela be great?

Madonsela, a lawyer, is a technocrat and stickler for detail.

If you read her reports, you will see how detailed she is and what an advocate for the rule of law she can be.

Madonsela is easily the most popular woman in South Africa and if we chose presidents by direct election, she would have an easy ride into the Union Buildings.

Madonsela deals with every level of state and every branch of government.

She knows how it works. Our political system is sadly party based, so very few people in fact determine who will become president.

In another country (say, Germany), Zille would be fine presidential material. She is a seasoned political trooper, an ace on the stumps and she has governing smarts.

Zille would improve education immeasurably (it is her forte) and obliterate corruption.

But she’s white in a nationalist South Africa. And she can rub people up the wrong way in a super-sensitive country of social-media crybabies.

Lindiwe Mazibuko

Harvard University governance stripes. Tick. Black. Tick. Good on the stumps. Tick.

This former DA parliamentary leader was excellent. She changed the image of a member of Parliament from old and staid to young and cool. Mazibuko can campaign – and she led her caucus well (although some of the DA fuddy-duddies won’t agree). She is definitely a new-generation politician. Presidential material? Why not.


Who do you think should be SA’s first female president – and why?

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