It will surely be seen as the clearest signal yet that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, member of the ANC's National Executive Committee and former African Union Commission chairperson, has thrown her hat into the ANC presidential succession ring.
She is widely believed to be the favourite of the faction aligned to her ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma, to take over the ANC presidency at its elective conference in December.
On Thursday, Dlamini-Zuma appeared at an ANC cadres forum, ostensibly assembled to discuss a recent National Working Committee report on the state of the party. Her focus was on the ANC taking back control: of both the economy and peoples' growing dissatisfaction with the ruling party.
She took a swipe at the protestors who had taken to the streets on Wednesday and last Friday: "We are not going to have presidents elected through the streets when we have a Constitution that says how presidents should be elected."
'We want radical transformation'
She said it was clear the protestors were against Zuma's policy of radical economic transformation, and they needed to understand they could not dictate to the ANC how to elect and remove its leaders.
While the ANC had performed well in other areas, it had not performed well on the economy, Dlamini-Zuma said.
"We have done a lot. Where we have not done well is the economy. We want radical economic transformation."
She said it was important that the majority of the people participated in the economy, and this could only be done through controlling the finance ministry, as this amounted to controlling the commanding heights of the economy. "If we don't control the finance ministry, we don't control the economy."
"We must assist the mainstream economy to absorb black people in general and Africans in particular. The people who suffer most are black people if they want financial assistance. Women and youth find it very difficult to get financial assistance," she said.
She said the ANC had to be united, and said it was clear that the party was not communicating its message clearly enough because it was weak.
Dlamini-Zuma told the crowd that it was time for the party to "close ranks" and ensure that its message was properly construed.
Also at the event were Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor and ANC Women's League president and Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini -- a staunch Zuma supporter. The event took place in the Free State, the home of Free State Premier Ace Magashule, also a fierce Zuma backer.
Time for a woman in power
Dlamini-Zuma echoed the words of her champions in the Zuma camp, who have said it was time for a woman to lead the party, and used this as a kind of code for meaning she should take over.
Dlamini-Zuma said ANC cadres should have "gender awareness".
"We cannot have chauvinists in the movement," she said.
She said the laws of nature did not allow a vacuum to occur, and said that politics was the same in the case of leadership.
"We must build the capacity to implement. Our young people need to know what must be done. All of us need to look at what our kids are being taught in model C schools. They are being taught it's 'us versus the ANC'," she said. "This is why they think colonialism is good."
She said this was not just propaganda, but that school children are taught that the ANC is "useless" and "corrupt", and that the country would not be a democracy until an opposition party governed.
Dlamini-Zuma said the impression created was that to pass, you had to discredit the ANC.