The ANC and ANC Youth League in the West Rand have resolved that they would like to see the party's deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa ascend to the presidency at its 54th National Elective Conference in December.
The two, who are already characterised by some in Gauteng as staunch Ramaphosa supporters made the public declarations on Friday evening during a public lecture in honour of the longest serving president of the ANC - Oliver Reginald Tambo.
"The ANC is not looking for a woman president, it's looking for president of the ANC who would lead both men and women as members of the ANC," said ANC regional chairperson Boyce Maneli.
"Now we must be clear therefore that a woman president is the president of the women's league - we have her," said Maneli in reference to the ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini.
"Women should not think they are less than men or somewhere else and not in the ANC. They must actively participate in the ANC so that they are recognised as members of the ANC not because they are just women."
Maneli said any woman who wanted to take herself seriously would not want her leadership to be associated with gender because that is all people would blame her for if she made mistake in the process.
"You should say 'I am a leader equal to any other leader, judge me for what I can do and what I cannot do like any other leader'," said Maneli.
In support of his words the ANCYL regional chairperson William Matsheke said the leadership race in the ANC could not be about one person.
"[There is] nothing wrong when we say we need women leaders to lead us, bateng bo [you have your....] Lindiwe Sisulu, Baleka Mbete and the others," he said to some who chuckled at the comment.
He also reiterated Maneli's comments that what they wanted was an ANC president and not a female president, before endorsing Ramaphosa as the ideal candidate to take the party forward.
"Ramaphosa in December - come rain or shine we are placing him as president," Matsheke said.
The Youth League leader defending the move said although it was not an official resolution they felt the need to share their own opinions on what they believed needed to happen in December, when the party elects new leadership.
He told News24 if they get called ill-disciplined and are sanctioned, the same should happen to many others like the ANCWL who have refused to heed calls to refrain from discussing the succession debate.
"...They have never discussed this issue nor has the league ever had an NGC (National General Council) in order to pronounce the issue but some have made public utterances about their preferences," he told News24.
Maneli, who at times was hard hitting in his address, said the ANC needed to do as Tambo had - siding with the truth and listening to the people while he was still president of the ANC.
"You reshuffle, there are marches and all that, and what do we do in response? You say its monopoly capital because we are denialists, we say its racism," he said.
President Jacob Zuma previously described some of those protesting for his removal as being racist.
"Now comrades let's look at what O R said - when the truth is told, it has to be told, and you have to tell this truth even if sometimes those who oppose you are telling that truth. You can't change it and say it's not the truth because it is said by those opposed to you, as long as you stand by that truth."
He said the truth is that as the ANC leads the country today, there are South Africans who are saying that things must change.
"When you see the marches it's very easy to look through the window and say the numbers are small," said Maneli.
'Let's listen to the people'
He then said that in the past the ANC was able to address large numbers of South Africans with fewer ANC comrades.
"If we were able to overthrow apartheid with the numbers we had, who says we cannot be overthrown ourselves if we no longer listen to the people or look at these marches and understand?"
He said Tambo, when handing over the reins to new leadership in the ANC, said the party should always listen to the people, and that they did so even though at times they themselves believed they were right. The party would change its position to suit what the people preferred.
"The people say something is wrong [and] we deny it... we deny it until we are dragged to court and then we return and say it was wrong. We will be punished," said the ANC West Rand chair.
Citing the ANC's continued declining performance at the polls over the years, he said the people were talking, and also questioning when the party would listen.
"How many should we lose before you realise the people are talking," he asked.
"As we prepare for conference let's listen to the people, not just count their numbers and change the numbers whenever we want to," said Maneli.
He said he understood that some could manipulate conferences due to an ability to control the numbers but that winning the ANC's national elective conference might mean losing the elections when the country votes in 2019. -- News24