In South Africa, the General Secretary of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) says the party will chose a leader in its December congress who will be above reproach. Smut Ngonyama says the future ANC leader must first be nominated by the various ANC branches across the country. But South Africa?s powerful trade?s union congress recently nominated Jacob Zuma, former deputy president of the ANC, as its choice of leader for the party. The ANC sharply dismissed the move, saying it is unacceptable for the trade union to impose a leader on the party.

However, some political analysts say Zuma is the front-runner, despite his dismissal as the country?s deputy president. From the western Cape Province, Smut Ngonyama discusses with reporter Peter Clottey the criteria in choosing the leader of the ANC.

?It?s a very, very important process in the life of the ANC because it?s a process, which actually gives an opportunity to the members of the ANC to talk, and to be open. And they would start at the branch level of the ANC. All members of the ANC belong to branches and each and every branch would make its own nomination, and on the basis of what comes from the branches, then we have a national list, which would be the one that would be used by the conference to nominate leaders for the national executive committee of the ANC including the top six officials: president, deputy president, secretary, general, deputy secretary general, the national chairperson, and the national treasurer. And all those people would be elected and nominated by the branches, starting from today,? Ngonyama explained.

He said whoever emerges as ANC party leader would have gone through a very rigorous process.

?The leader that gets in would have to go through the eye of the needle in terms of what the general behavior and the expectations by the public in terms of public posture of the individual in the public image of the individual. He must be a trustworthy, responsible individual and whose character is impeccable, in terms of discipline, and an incorruptible individual. Those are some of the attributes, and the person that goes out to build unity of the ANC, unity of the alliance and unity of the South African nation. And the person who must have very, very strong passion and affinity for the continent,? he pointed out.

Ngonyama denied there would be town centers of power if current ANC President Thabo Mbeki is retained as the party President.

?Definitely, there would be no two centers of power. It is the ANC that takes the mandate during elections. It is not the government. It is the ANC that goes out to lobby and campaign on the basis of the ANC manifesto? and South African people elect to vote for the ANC, and the ANC manifesto. That?s where the power lies. Policies come from the ANC and therefore, those that are deployed in government, are deployed by the ANC on behalf of the ANC as a ruling party, and therefore there are no two centers of power in that respect because ultimately the power lies with the African National Congress party as a body given mandate by the people of South Africa,? Ngonyama explained.