Africa-Press – South-Africa. Embattled former health minister Zweli Mkhize’s bid to revive his political ambitions was given a considerable boost as the ANC’s most influential province, KwaZulu-Natal, threw its weight behind him.
In a strong endorsement of Mkhize, the province wants him to run for the position of ANC president.
Another win for Mkhize, was the province’s support for Mkhize’s preferred candidate for ANC secretary-general, Phumulo Masualle.
News24 reported last week that Mkhize was lobbying the province to forgo its preferred candidate – Mdumiseni Ntuli – the former provincial secretary, and instead endorse Masualle.
Mkhize’s reason was that throwing the province’s weight behind Masualle would further secure his chances, given that the former Eastern Cape premier brought with him a large support base that would also throw its weight behind his push for the ANC presidency.
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The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal endorsed Paul Mashatile for deputy president.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Bheki Mtolo announced that the province would lobby for Nomvula Mokonyane to take the reigns as deputy secretary-general.
The ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) is yet to endorse anyone for the position of treasurer-general, but it is clear that it wants a “young person for the position”.
The PEC endorsement of Mkhize came a week after the party’s most influential region, eThekwini, endorsed Mkhize.
The PEC defied calls by ANC electoral committee chairperson Kgalema Motlanthe, who last week warned political structures against making pronouncements on their preferred leadership candidates ahead of the national elective conference in December.
In a letter to Luthuli House, seen by News24, Motlanthe warned that disciplinary action would be taken against those who continued to flout the rules and guidelines he and his team had formulated.
After openly defying Motlanthe, Mtolo said the ANC electoral committee chairperson’s timing disadvantaged the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, hence its decision to go against him and announce their preferred candidates.
“Where we take issue with him (Motlanthe) is that people have been making pronouncements, and only now, as we as KZN are about to make our announcement, he sends this letter.
He reiterated that had the province adhered to Motlanthe’s call, it would have been greatly inconvenienced.
“KZN would die being right. This is politics, and sometimes choosing to be right would disadvantage you. The horse has already bolted, and it’s not possible to only now want to enforce such a call for provinces not to endorse people,” said Mtolo.
Mtolo said the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal would continue to talk to other provinces and try to sway them to back their preferred candidates.
“They (other provinces) have already pronounced, but we will hear what they think and continue to deliberate with them on our preferences,” said Mtolo.
The decision also goes against calls by former president Jacob Zuma for the ANC’s radical economic transformation faction to support Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the ANC presidency.
In a statement on Tuesday, Zuma endorsed Dlamini-Zuma.
“There have been rumours in the public domain and the media about my leadership preferences for the upcoming conference. I wish to indicate that I have not shifted from the position we had taken in 2017 (to endorsed Dlamini-Zuma],” Zuma said.
“What is strange to me is that the majority of the people who are being talked about now as we go to the 55th national conference as part of the candidates who supported Cyril Ramaphosa in the 54th national conference (sic),” read Zuma’s statement.
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“Comrades must not have short memories, given that in the past few years, comrades were overwhelmed by a lot of money not using political conscience but guided by greed to nominate and vote for ANC president (sic),” he said in a veiled attack on Ramaphosa.
Zuma’s own history could offer Mkhize some hope. Zuma ascended to the ANC presidency in 2007, two years after he was fired as the country’s deputy president following the conviction of his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik on corruption charges linked to the arms deal.
Fresh from its special PEC meeting, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal also stated that the “Eskom board and CEO (André de Ruyter) must resign”.
The party called on Ramaphosa to begin a process of appointing “experienced” people to lead the power utility.