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Ex-South African President Says He is Ready to Serve Party


Former South African Vice President Jacob Zuma says he is ready to perform any task given to him by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. This comes after speculations that President Thabo Mbeki would seek a fresh term of office as the ANC president when his current term expires this year. Observers say the move could potentially damage the former vice president’s presidential ambitions. But Zuma has dismissed the speculation as baseless. He adds that he has always discharged with efficiency any assignment given him by the ANC party.

From Johannesburg, Jacob Zuma tells reporter Peter Clottey that he is willing to serve in any capacity the ANC assigns him.

“Ever since I joined the ANC, I’ve never made a choice of what type of responsibility I need to be given, nor have I had an ambition of any particular responsibility. What has happened is ANC in its own wisdom decides where to deploy me, and I have never refused any deployment. If the ANC tomorrow said, I needed to work in the head office to sweep and clean the head office I would do that with all commitment. But if it said we believe that you need to be the president of the organization, indeed, I will accept that if the ANC said so, and I would do my best,” he pointed out.

Zuma said he has always waited to be assigned jobs by the party.

“What I have been doing in the ANC is that I wait for the ANC to take its own decisions in its own wisdom to deploy me, and I have always accepted deployment given to me,” he said.

Zuma said there is nothing wrong with the party’s concept where the president of the party becomes the presidential candidate. He said that principle should be upheld.

“Well, that debate has emerged slightly, and I think also the national policy conference engaged that debate also somewhat indirectly because the conference discussed the option. But I think there was a large body of opinion of a majority opinion that said the conference of the ANC would prefer that the president of the organization becomes the president of the country. And of course the matter would be finalized in the national conference in December,” Zuma noted.

He said the concept whereby you have one person being the president of the ANC and another being president of South Africa could potentially bring about friction in the party.

“I believe that we have not had two centers of power in the ANC since we became a party in government. And there is nothing wrong that has so far emerged the problem, which would call or would necessitate that we should change the system. If you had two presidents, I think that is a recipe for difficulty. I think it is undesirable. It is very important that you’ve got one center, which from the ANC point of view is able to take the decisions and the policies and implement them in government. So that you don’t create a situation where one leader or one center would question the other or unduly influence the other,” he said.

Zuma said he would oppose the two-system presidency when it is brought up for debate in the future.

“I think it’s a system that I do not agree with. But of course if the matter emerges in the national conference, I would be part of the delegation, I would debate the matter and put across my views,” Zuma noted.

He said the ANC has always been at the forefront in empowering women, as was agreed upon recently at one of the party’ conferences.

“I think there was a consensus that emerged in the conference certainly in favor of this idea. Of course people say we would look at that and a number of issues that need to be looked at. And I’m sure those would be the recommendations in the national conference in December,” he said.

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