ANC rival sings Zuma praises ahead of crunch conference
South Africa's deputy president glossed over rivalry with his boss Jacob Zuma on Thursday, delivering a speech in the president's honour just days before a party conference that could see the men battle to control the ANC.
Kgalema Motlanthe delivered a hagiography of the president to mark the ANC's 100th anniversary, dodging suggestions that he may challenge Zuma at the conference in 10 days' time.
Some of the country's nine provinces have backed Motlanthe to take over the storied but faltering party. But Motlanthe has so far shied away from publicly throwing his hat in the ring.
Thanks to the party's electoral standing, the leader of the party is highly likely to become president after the elections in 2014.
In his address Motlanthe praised Zuma, describing him as an example of how "positive thinking thrives against all odds" referring to the autodidact's rise to power.
He said that to understand Zuma one needs to understand the environment and conditions that shaped that person.
"Zuma stands on the shoulders of the giants who came before him," he said.
His lecture was preceded by energetic chants of pro-Zuma slogans, the crowd making no secret of their preferred candidate for the party's top job.
Motlanthe smiled and often made uncomfortable swaying moves as supporters from the central Free State province sang enthusiastically about their choices to take up key ANC positions, pointedly omitting Motlanthe's name, who is currently the party's number two.
© 2012 AFP