Are ANC, Zanu PF ready for female presidents?

Source: Are ANC, Zanu PF ready for female presidents? – DailyNews Live 15 January 2017

Maxwell Sibanda

HARARE – Recent political developments in neighbouring South Africa where
president Jacob Zuma has said the governing African National Congress
(ANC) party is ready for its first female leader, days after his former
wife was named by the party’s influential women’s league as its choice to
succeed him, has reminded many Zimbabweans of First Lady Grace Mugabe’s
mooted ambitions to succeed her husband, President Robert Mugabe.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has four children with Zuma, is the head of
the African Union Commission and a leading candidate to succeed her
ex-husband after the 2019 general election.

Zuma is expected to step down as ANC leader at the end of this year, and
whoever takes over will be the frontrunner for the presidency.

Zuma recently went off-script when he said on radio that there was no
tradition in the ANC that the deputy president should succeed the
president. This has been seen as an indication that he wants his ex-wife
Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him.

The Daily News on Sunday interviewed a number of social and political
analysts on this development and whether this might influence the politics
in Zimbabwe with Zanu PF’s women’s league also advocating for Grace to
succeed her husband.

Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga said although Zuma has come out in
support of his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma succeeding him as SA
president, we must not draw too many similarities with Zimbabwe where
Grace Mugabe might want to succeed Mugabe because the two scenarios are
vastly different.

“Unlike Grace who until recently held no post in the party, Dlamini-Zuma
is a senior ANC leader with a strong track record having served as senior
cabinet minister in different SA administrations and currently holds a
senior post on the continent as African Union Commission chairperson.

“Whereas Grace is a political novice, we have Dlamini-Zuma a woman with
political gravitas who in her own right, independent of her ex-husband,
has the capacity to lead South Africa.

“Dlamini-Zuma’s nearest equivalent would be Joice Mujuru, for they are
both veterans of the struggle in their respective countries, married
senior political figures while maintaining their own luminous political
careers,” said Mavhinga.

Social commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said: “Actually, the Zuma `dynasty’
must have been influenced by our Zanu PF women’s league! Bad politics is
contagious, so I cannot rule out reverse osmosis.

“If Zuma claims South Africa is ready for a female president, now, why did
he not say South Africa is ready for a youthful president when Julius
Malema was clamouring for leadership renewal?

“This is all about self-preservation, greed and perpetuating the
monarchical mentality. I have no problem with female presidents –
Dlamini-Zuma has the credentials but Grace is a no no!”

Journalist Viv Maravanyika said: “Definitely the events in South Africa
will give strong credence to those in Grace’s camp as well as the first
lady herself. They can also point out how Hillary Clinton was backed by
her husband Bill (former US presient) in the recent elections. It’s well
and good to receive that support, but what are her qualifications? Is she
really presidential material? I don’t think so.”

Social commentator Farai Maguwu said there are contrasts and similarities.

“Indeed Zanu PF women and youth leagues might be emboldened by the ANC
women’s league and go for the jugular by nominating Grace.

“However, the matter of national leadership is beyond and above one’s
biological composition. It’s about delivering hope and change to the
masses. It’s about a person whose heart is in the right place, someone who
loves the people and one with a vision that leaves no one behind.”

Maguwu said by rising to the position of chairperson of the African Union
Commission Dlamini-Zuma has demonstrated that she has the capacity to

“Many on the continent feel she has held that position with much wisdom
and honour. I am not sure how she compares with Grace.

“I would really think Grace would do well to continue with her world
renowned charity work in Mazowe. Actually my advice to Zanu PF is that
they need someone who can unify the party and the nation if they are to be
of any relevance beyond Mugabe’s life.”

A political analyst who preferred to remain anonymous said the only
similarity is that Dlamini-Zuma and Grace have or had a relationship with
Presidents of countries in southern Africa.

“What happened in South Africa may never have a political domino effect to
the current politics in Zimbabwe. Dlamini-Zuma has in her own right,
strong domestic and regional credentials to warrant her nomination to lead
South Africa. While her ex-husband’s support may be crucial, in her own
right, she has a track record to command the support of the ANC. In other
words, she has a constituency base and national and regional appeal to
lead that country.

“Grace has no domestic and regional credentials to marshal support. Her
base is her husband, without whom she will just be political nonentity.”

Human rights activist Edna Masanga said: “That is a very worrying regional
precedent to be set by South Africa if that happens. Because we have
already seen efforts to create a Mugabe dynasty being put in place with
the president’s son-in-law being appointed to run the national airline,
his nephew being appointed minister and the wife leading one of the
powerful arms of Zanu PF – the women’s league.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said: “It’s likely to influence the
same here. Though prospects of a Grace presidency can only live while
Mugabe is alive. Once Mugabe is gone, Grace may be removed from the
political limelight as she has caused a lot of friction within Zanu PF and
she has created more enemies within the party, including both women and
youth leagues. Those that pretend to respect her do so owing to their
respect for Mugabe. Thus in that vein drawing parallels between South
Africa and Zimbabwe on this one may be far -fetched.”

Social commentator Rashweat Mukundu said: “While I don’t rate Dlamini-Zuma
that highly as a leader, she is however, a political leader in her own
right with credentials going back a long time. While Grace could be
inspired she does not come anywhere near Dlamini-Zuma as a politician.
While Grace’s claim to fame is simply being Mugabe’s wife, Dlamini-Zuma
has impeccable credentials as a political leader both in SA and in

Journalist Tichaona Sibanda said: “The political dynamics are different in
that Dlamini-Zuma has held public office for years beginning in exile
whereas Grace’s meteoric rise has been at the benevolence of her husband.
While Dlamini-Zuma maybe electable at an election we can’t say the same
for Grace, hence her opponents in Zanu PF will make sure that never

Arts practitioner Josh Nyapimbi said: “Zimbabwe and South Africa body
politics are very different; the female examples you give will be accepted
and not for different reasons. In the Dlamini-Zuma case she literary had
her leadership rehearsal at African Union which is her strongest point.
While for Grace she has no tried and tested public office service.

“Further ANC has somewhat a progressive political culture compared to Zanu
PF judging by economic performance and foreign relations which they are
sensitive to and always shield from partisan politics straying brick

Media practitioner Nigel Nyamutumbu said: “I don’t think we can even begin
to compare the illustrious political career of Dlamini-Zuma to that of
Grace. By all means, it is very noble for women to be nominated or take up
positions traditionally occupied by men.

“The case of the immediate past AU Commission chair is by miles different
from that of Grace in that whereas the former’s political history is well
documented both within her party and government, the latter is a political
novice and her rise to power has more to do with her husband’s position
that her own credentials.”


  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 5 years ago

    Does our next woman president need to be Grace?
    Are we being intimidated here to believe she has what it takes. Again our intelligence is being tested here. If our people want anyone let them choose. I definitely would not be choosing her .