Candidates step into conundrum

Reports that businessman Tokyo Sexwale has stepped forward as a candidate for the race to become the country's next president in 2009 add to the conundrum - and the intrigue - rather than clear the muddle around the tense battle within the ANC.

Reports that businessman Tokyo Sexwale has stepped forward as a candidate for the race to become the country's next president in 2009 add to the conundrum - and the intrigue - rather than clear the muddle around the tense battle within the ANC.

Making the waters even murkier is the question of whether Sexwale's candidacy will not complicate issues further by adding a new dimension to an already fractious succession battle.

And, of course, much depends on whether the two main protagonists - President Thabo Mbeki and ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma - will rise above their current differences to embrace a deal that puts the interests of the country first.

The Sexwale option may well be useful as a work-in-progress - creating possible scenarios for the ANC to explore in order to prevent the current crippling divisions from causing further damage.

But Sexwale's entry into the fray might be checkmated by the possible emergence of Cyril Ramaphosa as a presidential candidate, creating an interesting sideshow to the leadership conundrum.

But what is ultimately significant is whether the party can emerge from the current test of character united behind one leader at the end of its conference later this year, having learnt the important lesson of disagreeing - without being disagreeable.

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