As the race to succeed President Jacob Zuma as president of the ANC speeds up, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu continues to move up to the spotlight – like President Jacob Zuma’s ex-spouse Dlamini-Zuma.
Dlamini-Zuma is a household name in African politics, as much as we know, but the case is different for Sisulu who is yet to gain ground on the political soil like the former AU chairperson.
Presently the ANC does not allow open campaigning for the top post – although Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former AU commission chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, are believed to be the front-runners. The ANC holds its elective conference in December and is expected to pick another leader.
But growing calls coming from ANC branch in Eastern Cape are not gunning for the two but for Sisulu, who has been Zuma’s loyalists until recently when she called on the ANC to face its challenges.
A few months ago, Silulu’s support swelled as many of her fans painted her as a viable alternative to Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa because of her clean record.
The ANC Eastern Cape branch made its intention known on Friday after the minister arrived in Keiskammahoek‚ near King William’s Town to launch a newly established branch named after Reverend ZR Mahabane – a former ANC president.
At the occasion, branch chairman Sipiwo Venkile announced that they would be pleased to see Sisulu lead the ANC after Zuma’s tenure.
“She is an experienced leader who led several government departments and went into exile and became an MK [Umkhonto weSizwe, the ANC’s liberation army] operative. We want her [Sisulu] to lead the ANC in 2017 and lead the country in 2019‚ because the ANC will still lead this country, come 2019,” the branch chairman said.
So far, Zuma is yet to mention Sisulu as a likely successor despite saying that the country is ready for a female president. The last time he touched on the matter, it was clear that he prefers Dlamini-Zuma to other female contenders – including his deputy, who ought to succeed him with ease, according to ANC tradition.
Lindiwe Sisulu received her first appointment in the government as deputy minister of home affairs in 1996, she served through to 2001.
She served as South Africa’s Minister of Public Service and Administration from 2012-2014. The position of the Minister of Human Settlements was offered to her in May 2014.
The minister has been a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC for more than a decade. She has been a member of Parliament since 1994.
She once served as South Africa’s Minister of Housing from 2004 to 2009 and Minister of Defence and Military Veterans from 2009 to 2012.
Lindiwe Sisulu studied at the Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa in Mbabane, Swaziland in 1973.
She holds a BA degree and Diploma in Education and an MA in History. Sisulu received a BA Hons in History from the University of Swaziland In 1981. An MPhil from the Centre for Southern African Studies at the University of York was also awarded to her In 1989.
In December 2016, the minister lost her Kenyan-born academic husband Rok Ajulu to cancer complications. They have five children together.