ANC president Jacob Zuma says he remains the man who will step into the shoes of President Kgalema Motlanthe after next year's election. He also wants National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi replaced speedily.
Zuma said he was aware that there were individuals who wanted him to step aside and allow Motlanthe to continue as the country's president after the election.
He said those raising the argument "were hypocrites who pretend to be democrats but do not respect the courts and the Constitution of the country".
"A man who has been to court charged with rape and then acquitted remains guilty," Zuma repeated what is becoming his mantra to a group of editors he met for lunch in Johannesburg yesterday.
"The Constitution of this country does not say if you are charged you cannot take responsibility of being a leader," he said.
Zuma said the matter of his being the presidential candidate had been resolved in Polokwane and "nothing has changed".
Regarding the on-leave Selebi, Zuma called for the appointment of a new police commissioner "given the crime situation in the country".
Zuma said having an acting commissioner for too long would undermine the government's determination to fight crime.
He reiterated his statement that the criminal justice system was "too soft on criminals".
The criminal-justice system must be such that criminals were afraid to commit crimes, Zuma said.
He also said that the ANC government was committed to increasing the number of no-fee schools to 60% by 2009.
"Many children do not go to school because they cannot afford to pay for their schooling," he said.