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Vol 47 No 9

Published 28th April 2006

South Africa

All eyes on Phumzile

As the rape and corruption trials of Jacob Zuma rumble on, the presidential candidacy is wide open again

The many misfortunes of Jacob Zuma, self-inflicted or otherwise, have elevated Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (AC Vol 47 No 6). Almost without effort, she has replaced Zuma as front-runner for the presidency in the 2009 elections. That may not last. Many twists and turns will come before then, many of them at the ruling African National Congress's national conference in 2007, when it will choose its candidate. Mlambo-Ngcuka is President Thabo Mbeki's choice. He would prefer a female successor and has already passed several key responsibilities to her. She now coordinates and takes political responsibility for initiatives such as the economic growth strategy and the new industrial policy. She chairs most cabinet meetings and many meetings of the ANC leadership. The relationship between Mbeki and the then Deputy President Zuma had soured before the 2004 elections but ANC Secretary General Kgalema Motlanthe advised Mbeki to retain Zuma, to avoid a pre-election split in the party. As Mbeki began his second term, Zuma responded by launching a barely concealed bid for the presidency.

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