Could ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize be the presidential candidate compromise the ruling party is looking for to quell a fierce succession battle?
Speculation has been rife after the ANC’s 105th anniversary celebration in Gauteng on Sunday that the former KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson could emerge as a candidate to unify the party‚ which has been split over potential candidates Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ahead of its national elective conference in December.
An embattled President Jacob Zuma is expected to vacate the position as the party’s leader in December after serving two terms. Mkhize‚ a solid and all-round politician is thought to be respected by both the Ramaphosa faction and the Dlamini-Zuma camp. Curiously‚ Mkhize is also being touted as Ramaphosa’s deputy should the current ANC deputy president raise his hand for the party presidency.
“You must understand that‚ in the ANC‚ we do not think the same. That is why every suggestion and proposal is subjected to debate and scrutinised on its merit. Comrade TG [Mkhize] is a seasoned cadre of the movement and can lead. I think he should be considered‚” said an ANC provincial executive committee leader in KwaZulu-Natal, who served with Mkhize in provincial structures between 2008 and 2013.
Another ANC leader who was at the January 8 Statement in Soweto said the mood was telling after the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) endorsed Dlamini-Zuma. “Comrade Cyril is our candidate‚ no doubt,” he said. “However‚ the ANC‚ which has the ability to mend its own wound‚ could ultimately decide that for peace and unity the organisation rally around a single candidate popular with everyone.
If you have noticed‚ the ANC leadership has been sending Comrade Zweli to areas that are volatile and where there have been hostilities. He has managed to interact even with the most aggrieved. The man is also at home with the business world. He has the Cyril mantle.”
However‚ such calls are likely to be fiercely repudiated by the ANC leadership, which insists that the succession debate is not yet open. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe reprimanded the ANCWL following their pronouncements on Dlamini-Zuma‚ describing such calls as being “ill-timed”. Mantashe told Radio 702 on Monday that when people do things that are out of order‚ they open a floodgate: “Cosatu and a number of its affiliates pronounced on Ramapahosa and that triggered a lot of anger within the ANC.”