Who cares what the king says' - political analyst

2017-02-08 16:58
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speaking during a press conference as head of the African Union (AU) Commission. (Simon Maina, AFP)

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speaking during a press conference as head of the African Union (AU) Commission. (Simon Maina, AFP)

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Johannesburg – Political analysts have cautioned Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to tread carefully in her campaign to claim the ANC's top spot.

The advice comes after Xhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke told Dlamini-Zuma that South Africa wasn't ready for a woman president and that women were too weak to lead.

"One doesn't expect to go out and be put down like that," said University of the Witwatersrand political analyst Susan Booysen.

Dlamini-Zuma paid Zwelonke a visit on Monday, a day after she spoke on women in leadership at a church in Carletonville, in what was seen as the launch of her campaign to become the next ANC president.

The ANC is expected to vote for new leaders in December 2017.

"She terribly miscalculated or was misinformed about the place she was visiting," said Booysen.

'I am a woman' not enough

She said Dlamini-Zuma, who has received a glowing endorsement from the ANC Women's League, should be worried, because in her journey towards presidency she would have to engage with leaders like Zwelonke who have influence over rural communities.

Zwelonke told Dlamini-Zuma that the country's problems were overwhelming for male leaders and would be too much for a woman, because women were too sensitive.

She said that the ANC putting a lid on the succession debate had made matters worse for Dlamini-Zuma.

"She couldn't even say 'we are ready, look here I am'," said the Wits University lecturer.

However, Booysen said the inherent promise of getting South Africa out of the trouble it was facing needed much more than saying, "I am a woman".

Traditional leaders 'not ready'

Research director at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, Ralph Mathekga, agreed with Booysen, but believed the king's comments would have little impact on Dlamini-Zuma's campaign.

"Who cares what the king says?" asked Mathekga.

The analyst said the Xhosa king's comments only reflected that it was traditional leaders who were not ready for a change.

He said Dlamini-Zuma's campaign had developed some interesting points of discussion, one being the country's readiness for a female president.

"She can say now that we agree that we need a woman, how about me?" said Mathekga.

Mathekga also praised Dlamini-Zuma for focusing her campaign on a value system.

Tainted by association

"People not pronouncing doesn't mean they can't discuss the value system that they want," he said.

Booysen raised some concern about those supporting Dlamini Zuma – the ANC Women's League and her former husband President Jacob Zuma's close allies, the so-called "premier league".

"If she is elected, she will be expected to be close them, these are the so-called corrupt," she said.

Mathekga also agreed that this alliance had tainted Dlamini-Zuma's profile.

"It's the little detail that [diminishes] everything she does," said Mathekga.

He said the former AU commission chairperson would have a far better campaign if she was not managing perceptions or carrying the liability of being attached to the current president.

Read more on:    nkosazana ­dlamini zuma  |  politics

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