ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete has called on “so-called lobbyists” to “desist using her name for their opportunistic intentions”.
This came in response to “electronic posters and other various paraphernalia with her image‚ lobbying for election as ANC president in 2017‚ that have recently surfaced on various digital platforms”.
Mbete was “outraged by the suggestion that she is behind” the campaign‚ and said: “Such acts are clearly the work of so-called lobbyists seeking to erode unity within the organisation and divide the movement by pitting comrade against comrade.”
She “categorically denies any involvement in such mischievous tactics that seemed designed to tarnish her reputation in the eyes of ANC members and society at large”‚ a statement said.
“This position taken by the national chairperson is line with the ANC’s stated directive that members of the ANC‚ its structures and league must desist from divisive behaviour which undermine the unity and cohesion of the ANC towards the 54th National Conference and beyond.”
The Sunday Times recently reported that Mbete had become the latest leader to throw her hat in the ring in the battle over who should succeed President Jacob Zuma as head of the party and state.
“The matter is not yet formally on the table. Let’s have this discussion and then‚ at the point when [we are] formally to engage in the question of ourselves as individuals or other people as comrades‚ we can say‚ in general‚ we’ve always been around and always worked according to the wishes of the structures of the ANC‚” said Mbete.
Mbete‚ who is also the speaker of the National Assembly‚ told the Sunday Times that she had been “approached by many” party structures to run for high office and‚ “after agonising for a long time” over it‚ decided to make herself available for the job.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told PowerFM late last year that he was keen on the job‚ and outgoing AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s bid for the top job was boosted last week when the ANC Women’s League named her as its preferred candidate a day before the party’s 105th anniversary celebrations in Soweto.
The league’s announcement has been seen as a blow to Mbete and other female presidential hopefuls.
But Mbete told the Sunday Times that although she was “surprised” by the timing of the league’s announcement‚ she did not believe that it prevented her from entering the race.
“No‚ not at all. I mean‚ all it does is it clarifies the views of the leadership of the ANCWL… that’s all it does‚ it says they are also committing themselves to campaign and persuade other members of the ANC to agree with them on their position‚ that’s all. It does not say nobody else should be nominated‚” Mbete told the newspaper.