South Africa’s human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu accepted the nomination of some African National Congress (ANC) branches to lead the ruling party, she told local media.
Sisulu, a veteran cabinet minister and a member of a family that along with the Mandelas were among the most prominent in the struggle against apartheid, joins a crowded race to succeed scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader in December.
At least six branches of the ANC have nominated Sisulu as leader and she has publicly accepted, the state broadcaster SABC reported.
“I have agreed,” Sisulu told the eNCA news channel in an interview on Sunday, adding that she had a daunting task ahead to return the “dignity” of the ruling party and securing a majority in the 2019 general election.
Sisulu and the ANC could not be reached for comment.
Zuma’s government has been dogged by allegations of corruption and influence peddling and media reports about a trove of leaked emails has heaped pressure on him to allow a judicial commission to investigate graft claims.
Members of the ANC have pushed for the president to step down as have alliance partners trade union federation Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP).
Zuma has denied wrongdoing.
With campaigning yet to start, Zuma has openly backed former African Union president Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to whom he had once been married, while Cosatu and the SACP have voiced support for deputy-president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The SACP at the weekend said it was mulling contesting the next general election on its own – a first for the party, whose leaders have been included in ANC-led cabinets since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
Reporting by TJ Strydom, editing by Louise Heavens