23/10/2017 07:05 SAST | Updated 23/10/2017 07:06 SAST

Mbete's Campaign Still Chugging Along, Apparently

Baleka Mbete is trying to inject some energy into her ailing presidential campaign.

Mike Hutchings / Reuters
President Jacob Zuma arrives with Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete to give his State of the Nation address at the opening session of Parliament in Cape Town, February 11, 2016.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is still campaigning to become ANC president, despite her lacklustre campaign's absence from the limelight, Business Day reported. Mbete is also reportedly trying to do damage control after losing ground to her rivals, presidential hopefuls Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mbete told Business Day that her campaign was faltering owing to a lack of funds and inexperience on running campaigns on her part.

"The team have been running the campaign so, in other words, I from time to time catch up with them, they brief me, they ask me questions. It is a campaign which does not have money so we just talk to try and make each other feel good and I don't know this thing about campaigning (sic)," she reportedly said.

In recent weeks, questions have arisen about whether Mbete is still running at all.

City Press reported that Mbete's team was seeking to reboot her campaign, starting with attempts to distance her from President Jacob Zuma. She said she rejected efforts to paint her as Zuma's ally, saying she was "neither owned or controlled by anyone."

"I regret that there could be people out there with perceptions that I am willing to go down with anyone," she reportedly said.

Mbete held a strategy session in Johannesburg last week that members of the media were invited to attend. The campaign team reportedly said a slate had already been compiled.

"She [Mbete] is very comfortable with Zweli Mkhize [current ANC treasurer-general]. She feels that he is not arrogant and that they have the same approach when it comes to unity within the organisation.

"Mama has a soft spot for Lindiwe [Sisulu], but she is arrogant and it is difficult to engage her. We want people who are willing to compromise and have openly denounced NDZ [Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma]," a lobbyist told City Press.

Attempts to disassociate herself from Zuma will not be easy. Last week, Mbete told The New Age that there was no rush to get Zuma to leave office once his term as ANC president came to an end in December.

"I don't think there's a need for us to hustle people out of their offices. Why is it necessary? However, it would be ideal if the one who was in office was the one who said, 'You know what I think? Maybe let's take three months for us to clear our offices because 10 years is a long time.'"