South Africa: Zuma’s about-turn decision to unite ANC?

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South African president Jacob Zuma has told one of his most powerful allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), that he is willing to serve two terms.

During his campaign for the African National Congress (ANC) presidency, Zuma had said he would serve a single term if elected president of the country.

Cosatu has been pressuring Zuma to reconsider his position. “We know the president said only one term, but we have engaged with him. It is no longer on the table. He will run two full terms,” Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is quoted as telling reporters in Johannesburg on Thursday.

In December, Zuma was quoted as saying he wanted to follow the example of former president Nelson Mandela and serve only one term as SA’s president. But that media report merely encouraged discussion about the next succession battle in the ANC.

ANC insiders said yesterday that the presidential race was the ruling party’s biggest enemy and that it was clear Zuma’s about-turn sought to unite the party.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said there was nothing to stop Zuma from serving two terms. “The limit of terms is two. There is no one-term limit. The (ANC’s) next conference is in 2012. We are not even in the nomination process,” Mantashe said.

Meanwhile, Zuma has committed his government to an ambitious job-creation programme to help redress the worsening jobs crisis, which is thrusting thousands of workers into unemployment every month.

He promised about 4-million jobs would be generated by 2014 — about 500000 of them before December.

These ambitious targets would be achieved by fast-tracking the second phase of the expanded public works programme, which created 1-million jobs in the four years from 2004 to last year.

More than R4bn had been set aside for the second phase called the community work programme, which would offer a minimum level of regular work and focus on home- based care and community health projects.

Zuma said the aim of the second phase would be to improve the quality of life in communities and provide work.

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