11/05/2017 12:22 SAST | Updated 11/05/2017 12:23 SAST

Women Have Always Been Ready To Lead South Africa, Says ANCWL's Edna Molewa

"We can't say now it's our time. Our time has always been there."

Siyanda Mayeza / Foto24 / Gallo Images / Getty Images
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma addresses ANC Youth League members and students on issues of free education at the Durban University of Technology on April 20, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.
It would be a mistake for two women to be pitted against each other in the ANC's succession, said ANC International Relations Subcommittee chairperson and ANC Women's League national executive committee member Edna Molewa.

Although the ANC's process for presidential nominations has yet to begin officially, the names of three women - former African Union head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, House Speaker Baleka Mbete and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu - have been bandied about along with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as possible candidates to replace Jacob Zuma when he steps down as ANC president in December.

Molewa, in a wide-ranging interview with News24 on the party's international policies and the succession debate, said women in the ANC needed to be careful not to be seen as though they are competing against one another and thus dividing votes among themselves.

"It would be a big mistake for two women to be put together, against two men or even one man," she said.

If it's two women who emerge as two women [in the race], only then will there be nothing wrong, said Molewa.

But she said it would not be "nice" if women had to split their preferences because women were competing against one another.

"As women, we are still fighting our own struggles of arriving at full liberation and therefore it is necessary that in whatever we do, we are extremely careful about not exposing ourselves," said Molewa.

The ANC Women's League has endorsed Dlamini-Zuma as their presidential candidate for the December elective conference. It will be the first time that a woman is a candidate in the party's presidential race.

Women have always been ready to lead

The League said while lobbying for Dlamini-Zuma that it was time for a woman to lead, but Molewa argued that women have always been ready.

"We can't say now it's our time. Our time has always been there," said Molewa.

She added that the country and the ANC were ready for female leadership when they left the trenches and returned to a liberated South Africa.

"If we were to elect a female leader now, a woman secretary general [something we have never had] it would not be a mistake," she said.