Johannesburg - Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has joined a growing list of ANC leaders who are expressing regret over the outcome of the party’s conference in Polokwane in 2007. While not directly asking for forgiveness for having supported President Jacob Zuma’s rise – as several others have done – Sisulu said the current state of the ANC was the consequence of the Polokwane conference. At the conference, Zuma ousted then president Thabo Mbeki, who was removed as the country’s leader seven months later. Sisulu was one of the senior leaders who backed Zuma against Mbeki. “Those of us who were in the trenches in 2006 and 2007, forgive us. We didn’t know what we were doing; we were caught up in factions,” she told members of the Liliesleaf Farm branch in Midrand yesterday.Sisulu, a member of the ANC’s national executive committee, also warned that the party faced the prospect of losing power in the 2019 general elections. She spoke frankly about the sorry state of the ANC and cautioned that the term “organisational unity” should not be used for “populist purposes”.The gathering started off with the youth league structure of the branch giving a cheeky endorsement of Sisulu ahead of the ANC’s December electoral conference. Student activist Mcebo Dlamini – a member of the branch – said that, while the ANC had for many years sung the praises of great female leaders, it had still not allowed a woman to lead it.“The house is falling apart and it is now time for a woman’s touch. Comrade Lindiwe, sabela uyabizwa [answer, you are being called].”However, the leadership of the branch said that the ANC had not yet opened up the succession debate.One of the branch leaders told City Press that, when the time came to make its preference known, they would say that the ANC had to observe tradition and choose Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. The leader added that the issue of female leadership was a serious one so they would most likely support Sisulu for the position of deputy.Sisulu’s name has emerged in a number of quarters in recent weeks, with lobbyists saying that she is right for a job in the ANC’s top six – even as president – because she is a senior member who is free of scandals.During her speech, Sisulu referred to slain SA Communist Party leader Chris Hani’s 1969 Morogoro memorandum to the ANC leadership, in which Hani and other young leaders bemoaned the state of the exiled ANC, saying that it had become corrupt, that cronyism had emerged and that there was an ugly jockeying for positions.“Does this sound familiar?” Sisulu coyly asked the branch members.She said that when Oliver Tambo received the memorandum, he did not reject the complainants, but declared that, “if the ANC is corrupt, then I am”.Sisulu told the gathering that the possible loss of power in 2019 was real.“There is a threat that the ANC will fall below 50%. We cannot allow the ANC to lose power. We will not allow that power shift from the ANC to another sector.“Let this reside at the back of your mind. We dare not lose in 2019. If we do, you will not be able to sing of Oliver Tambo, you will not be able to sing of Walter Sisulu because you will have disinherited yourselves,” she said.