ANC 2019 Presidential Race: Why Kgalema Motlanthe Is Not Interested


Sometime in November, EFF leader Julius Malema advised ‘sinking’ ANC to woo former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to make a spirited political comeback.

He detailed that Motlanthe wouldn’t just be coming to be served, but to serve others by taking over the reins of the ruling party – which everyone believes is standing on its last legs.

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Malema at the time categorically said Motlanthe is the only man that could liberate the ANC from the imminent danger of being swept away from the face of the political arena.

The Commander-in-Chief of the economic fighters upheld that ANC’s moment of crisis started in 2012 – when the party abandoned Motlanthe. To him, Motlanthe is a just man, whose brief leadership was void of scandals and also played out a true democracy.

“The ANC would have come back much stronger. Kgalema is a man of integrity, Kgalema is knowledgeable. He listens to the opposition. A man that listens to the opposition and says what you’re saying is right, is the most dangerous man to the opposition because he will render you useless, you will close shop,” Mr. Malema said at the time.

Against this background, however, Motlanthe has declined the offer (regardless of the fact that it was not directly proposed by the ANC). In fact, he downplayed rumours making the rounds that he aspires to take over from President Zuma.

He rather offered to provide political education than standing for the post of the ANC headship again. Motlanthe was the deputy president of African National Congress (ANC), from 2007 until 2012 – when he declined to run for a second term. He was defeated by Jacob Zuma at the 53rd ANC National Conference in Mangaung, Free State when both wrestled for the position of president of the ANC.

Speaking to Power FM on Tuesday, the former president said: “Personally I am not keen to stand again as president. I think it is a bad idea to recycle leaders.”

He, however, refrained from mentioning who would likely take over from President Zuma when he steps down but stressed the need to recycle leadership in the ruling party.

The former leader, who still maintains a low public profile, did not spare Zuma for poor leadership and the growing factionalism eating deep into the party. He urged Zuma and the rest of the ANC’s top six to resign before the party moves to elect new leadership in December this year.

He advised the current leaders to learn from former ANC president Oliver Tambo’s inspirational leadership by convening a national consultative conference, as called for by over 100 party veterans.

He added: “Oliver Tambo, who was at that time the acting president-general of the ANC, actually stepped down at the Morogoro conference…and said let’s debate and discuss the problem.”

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Kgalema Motlanthe served as interim president of South Africa between 25 September 2008 and 9 May 2009, following the resignation of Thabo Mbeki. He’s been accused by some of failing to handle the fractures in the movement properly when he was the secretary general of the party and for being the key figure behind the victory of President Jacob Zuma.

He is a former trade unionist and member of the African National Congress’ military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe. Remarkably, he was South Africa’s first Northern Sotho-speaking president.