Johannesburg – The ANC has come down hard on its women's league for endorsing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its presidential candidate.
The party has labelled the move premature, divisive and in defiance of its national executive committee (NEC).
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) pronouncement "undermines the very same efforts of fostering unity in the ANC as it is against the decisions taken by the NEC that all its structures, including leagues, must desist from discussing leadership of the ANC".
The ANC said the party had only opened discussions based on a set of principles that should guide the party in naming its leaders.
The ANCWL announced on the eve of the party's 105th birthday celebrations that it will back the outgoing African Union Commission chairperson Dlamini-Zuma to replace President Jacob Zuma.
"After careful consideration and opening our eyes as wide as possible, Cde Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the only suitable candidate at this point in our history to lead the African National Congress in December 2017," the ANCWL said in a statement.
The league, announcing that it would lobby for the 50/50 gender representation policy to be applied to the party's top structure, went on to name its preferred candidates for the positions.
Race in full swing
"The ANCWL has resolved to lobby for Baleka Mbete, Jessie Duarte, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Lindiwe Sisulu, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Nomvula Mokonyane to be considered in the other five of the six official positions of the ANC in December 2017," the ANCWL said.
Kodwa cautioned the individuals touted for leadership positions against being used to divide the ANC.
The race for the ANC's top post is already in full swing after Cosatu endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over the reins.
The ANC also criticised Cosatu at the time, saying the endorsement did not foster unity in the alliance.
The party said once the nomination process is opened, it should be led by its branches.
"A right to nominate or elect leaders of the ANC is the sole right reserved for the branches of the ANC...and it is not transferable," said Kodwa.
The ANCWL declined to comment on the matter.
The party's January 8 statement this weekend was dominated by talk of unity. Factionalism, which has plagued the governing party, was slammed.