Sisulu confirms death threats, remains mum on ANC succession race

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NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu claps her hands during president Jacob Zumas closing speech at the ANCs national general council in Midrand on 11 October 2015.

JOHANNESBURG - ANC national executive committee member Lindiwe Sisulu would not be drawn on Saturday on whether or not she is in the running for party president.

Sisulu delivered the keynote address at the Lillian Ngoyi memorial lecture in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

ANC student activists who spoke at the event appeared ready to back her when nominations for positions open at the party's December elective conference.

"This is the time we need the most courageous leaders ..." said former Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini. "Comrade Minister we are as young people of the country we can associate ourselves with you and we are not ashamed to be seen marching side by side with you, because you are a woman of credibility."

While declining to say whether or not she would be part of the succession race,Sisulu said it was time for women in the ANC to stand up.

"The ANC is ready to have a woman president. The ANC has enough candidates of stature who'd be able to step up to the stage ...

"The campaign has started only after the ANC conference has worked out the modus operandi of how people are nominated and how people communicate their acceptance of that," she said

Asked about reports of threats to her safety, she said both she and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had been threatened.

"Yes, I did receive information that there was a possibility of me being eliminated. I did indicate that I was looking into that matter," she said.

"A few days ago Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of the ANC, indicated that he knew about that, both to myself and himself. And it seems to me that was known within the leadership of the ANC."

READ: ANC faces threat from opposition parties in 2019: Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa had earlier confirmed that threats to his safety had been made.

In her speech, Sisulu paid tribute to 1956 women's pass march leader Ngoyi and spoke of the "dark times" in which the ANC now found itself.

"We cannot preside over the demise of the ANC," she said. "Of course we've reached our rock-bottom ... we are on a very steep decline to rock-bottom.

"The people's trust in our movement is paramount. We dare not experiment with it. We've hit rock-bottom in the Western Cape and we have not yet recovered ... If we hit the rock-bottom in the country, there's no muti to save this," she told the gathering.

Sisulu appealed for unity in the party, saying that if the ANC died, poor African people would suffer. 

"Please don't give up on the ANC. There isn't a party that has not gone through dark times. We are experiencing our dark moment. Only you and your faith in us will take us out of that moment. We need to make sure we still govern after 2019."