Women too sensitive to lead, says Xhosa king

Outgoing chair of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma, was in the Eastern Cape to seek support for the ANC to have a woman president. PHOTO: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI
Outgoing chair of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma, was in the Eastern Cape to seek support for the ANC to have a woman president. PHOTO: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

Outgoing African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's attempt to woo the support of Xhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu backfired.

The monarch told her that the country was not ready for a female president.

"South Africa is not yet ready to be led by a woman president. Women are sensitive by nature.

"The country's problems have overwhelmed leaders who are men, how much more [so] for a woman," said the king, whose historic coronation in 2015 was the first of a Xhosa king in 50 years.

Yesterday, Dlamini-Zuma claimed her visit was merely to pay homage to the king but it has been suggested that she was there to seek support ahead of the ANC elective conference to in December.

Dlamini-Zuma has so far received support from the ANC Women's League for her to succeed President Jacob Zuma.

Introducing Dlamini-Zuma to the king, Deputy Minister of Water Affairs Pam Tshwete said: "My king, South Africa has been led by men for far too long and now mama Zuma should take the baton ... In America people disregarded a woman Hillary Clinton and chose a man and now they are led by a maniac man called Donald Trump."

Dlamini-Zuma refused to speak on ANC succession "as the matter is not yet open for discussion".

She said she was a tried and tested cadre and had recorded many successes when she served as minister in different portfolios under all three democratic presidents.

"Women must be part of the leadership. In South Africa more than 40% of women are in parliament and it should go up to more than 50%. Women must be part of leadership everywhere, even in leading countries.

In Africa, we have one woman president in Liberia and we would like to have more women presidents.

"In South Africa it is up to South Africa to decide if they want a woman president or not," said Dlamini-Zuma

When pressed to comment on the issue of a woman president, Dlamini-Zuma replied, "Of course the continent and all of us would welcome that. It could be a progressive idea."

But the king added: "If the idea is accepted that a woman should ascend to the presidency of the country, then it would need to be scrutinised to see if the land is fertile enough so that we, as men, do not put them in the trap to fail due to our own blunders.

"But it is only the ANC who can see if she is right for the position," he said.

The Eastern Cape has become a key battleground for ANC presidential hopefuls trying to garner support ahead of the conference.

Dlamini-Zuma's visit came hot on the heels of another presidential hopeful, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was in Mthatha two weeks ago for an ANC rally.

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