Attempts by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to garner the support of Xhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu for her presidential ambitions backfired when the monarch reportedly told her the country was not ready for a woman president.
The Sowetan reported on Wednesday Dlamini-Zuma apparently claimed her visit at Sigcawu’s Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale, near Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape, was to merely pay homage to the amaXhosa king, but it has been suggested she was there to seek the support of the king ahead of the ANC’s national elective conference later this year in December.
“South Africa is not yet ready to be led by a woman president. Women are sensitive by nature. The country’s problems have overwhelmed leaders who are men, how much more [so] for a woman,” the king said, whose historic coronation in 2015 was the first of a Xhosa king in 50 years.
Dlamini-Zuma’s visit was initially announced as a courtesy visit by the former foreign minister to the Xhosa king.
Deputy minister for water and sanitation Pam Tshwete introduced Dlamini-Zuma at the event, clearly campaigning for her to take over from her ex-husband Jacob Zuma as the ANC’s next president.
“My king, South Africa has been led by men for too long and now mama Zuma should take the baton … in America people disregarded a woman, Hillary Clinton, and chose a man, and now they are led by a manic man called Donald Trump,” she reportedly said.
According to the paper, Dlamini-Zuma refused to be drawn into the ANC succession debate, “as the matter is not yet open for discussion”.
However, she said she was a tried and tested cadre and had recorded many successes when she served as a minister in different portfolios under all three democratic presidents. She also said the idea of a women president would be welcomed in the continent and it could be a progressive idea.
The former AU chairperson is said to have the backing of ANC members and leagues that support Zuma against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also campaigning to succeed Zuma.
Ramaphosa was also in Mthatha two weeks ago for an ANC rally.