Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s bid for the ANC presidency suffered a major setback yesterday when Xhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu told her the country was not ready for a woman president.
Dlamini Zuma was at Sigcawu’s Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape in what was initially announced as a courtesy visit by the former foreign minister to the Xhosa king.
Sigcawu said the country was in a mess and therefore not in need of a woman president. “The country is not ready for a woman president because even our democratic presidents (previous and current) which are all men have not accomplished their mission of turning it around,” said Sigcawu.
Even though the king slaughtered an ox for Dlamini Zuma, Sigcawu did not mince his words, attacking President Jacob Zuma’s leadership.
Dlamini Zuma is being supported by those in support of Zuma against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also campaigning for the ANC’s top job.
The event in a marquee at Sig- cawu’s palace was turned into a question-and-answer session between Dlamini Zuma and local residents.
A handful of ANC supporters, accompanied by ANC Women’s League members, came to listen to Dlamini Zuma’s plans on how the government needed to prioritise rural people in regard to economic opportunities.
Sigcawu told those in attendance that traditional leaders were at an advanced stage to form their own political party through the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa). He said the move was ignited by the government’s “failure” to listen to the concerns of traditional leaders.
“We have huge support from our people. People listen to us and they will support our initiative to form our own political party through Contralesa,” Sigcawu said.
Speaking to The Star on the sidelines of the event, Sigcawu said of Dlamini Zuma: “I am not sure of her capabilities for the presidency. Sending her to the presidency would be just a disaster because our country is in a mess.”
But Sigcawu’s comments could not stop Deputy Minister for Water and Sanitation Pam Tshwete campaigning for Dlamini Zuma at the event.
Tshwete said the time for a woman president was long overdue. “We are here to support our candidate and asijiki (no turning back),” said Tshwete to the applause of a few ANC Women’s League members in attendance.
People at the event listed various concerns, including lack of economic capital to start businesses and criminal activities targeting women and children.
In response, Dlamini Zuma said: “The concerns you have raised mean that we need to do more. I will take these concerns to the relevant people and to the ANC’s national executive committee.”
On Sunday, Dlamini Zuma gave the clearest indication that she will contest the ANC presidency in December.
“We are saying women in Africa must be in politics, they must be judges, they must be all these kind of things.
“We are saying in Africa there must also be women presidents.
“Right now, we have one female president (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) from Liberia. Her second term in office comes to an end in October this year. We will then go back to where we were.
"Let’s be focused and achieve what we want,” she said to loud applause during her keynote address at the Faith Gospel Ministries in Carletonville on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in an endorsement of his ex-wife, Zuma said in a radio interview last month that the country was ready for a woman president.
Yesterday, Contralesa spokesperson Chief Setlamorago Thobejane said the concept of a female president had yet to be debated by the organisation as a whole. He said Sigcawu's remarks were probably his personal opinion, and it remained to be seen what the organisation would decide.