Zuma 'Will Drop Out If Necessary'
|Reporter||Carien du Plessis|
ANC leader Jacob Zuma will step out of the presidential race if he believes this to be in the interest of the country, President Kgalema Motlanthe says.
Motlanthe, who is Zuma's deputy in the ANC, was addressing a mostly middle-class audience which filled the Mahatma Gandhi community hall for an ANC rally in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, last night.
He said Zuma was a very "capable leader".
Motlanthe was asked by an audience member whether he (Motlanthe) would not be a better choice for president than Zuma, who is facing corruption charges.
"Why is the ANC so bent on putting Zuma as president of the country?" the man asked to loud applause, while others in the audience shouted: "Viva Msholozi!" - Zuma's clan name.
Motlanthe said that when Zuma was elected president of the ANC at Polokwane in 2007, he had not been "facing any charges at all. He was as free as all of us".
Soon after the conference, which ended just before Christmas, he had been charged again by the National Prosecuting Authority. "They couldn't even wait to celebrate New Year's Eve," he said.
Zuma had then taken steps to clear his name, a process which was continuing, Motlanthe said.
Zuma was facing allegations, not an actual court case.
"We now proceed with that understanding and Zuma is our leader. He is a very capable leader.
"We know that without any doubt in my mind, that if, at whatever point, he believes that the in-terests of the ANC and the country can better be served by his stepping down, he will be the first one to say so," he said.
Motlanthe made these remarks on the day the ANC filed papers in an application to be a friend of the court in Zuma's appeal to the Constitutional Court seeking to overturn a judgment which effectively reinstated his corruption charges.
Motlanthe also admitted that leaders from over the world, and especially from the continent, had expressed their concern about the utterances of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
Responding to a question on Malema's discipline, Motlanthe said the ANC would continue to take Malema "by the ear" and steer him in the right direction when he veered off course.
It was necessary to have young people who were energetic, rather than complacent, but energetic young people tended to err, Motlanthe said.
"… You have to make sure that you have a youth that can change things for the better tomorrow. And that is why we must always bring Julius into … line. Each time he says something wrong, you must pull him into line and make him aware it is wrong."
This way Malema would evolve into a "responsible citizen".
In what could be interpreted as a veiled reference to the ANC's former spokesman and self-confessed fraudster, Carl Niehaus, Motlanthe said the ANC "never gives up on anyone" except the "most incorrigible *1".
With acknowledgements toCarien du Plessis and Cape Argus.