Former health minister, Zweli Mkhize, who is vying for the ANC presidency, has taken an early lead in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
This is after several ANC regions in KZN indicated during their meetings on Tuesday evening that they preferred him over either President Cyril Ramaphosa or Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
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Mkhize, who resigned as health minister last year amid the Health Department’s Digital Vibes scandal, was endorsed by Moses Mabhida, eThekwini, Musa Dladla, Mzala Nxumalo and Harry Gwala regions, among others.
ANC eThekwini region secretary, Musa Nciki, said the regional leadership resolved to endorse Mkhize after the eThekwini branches overwhelmingly declared their support for him.
The meetings held by the ANC’s KZN regions followed a directive by the party provincial leadership for them to come up with the names of their preferred candidates ahead of the ANC national conference scheduled for December.
The name of comrade Zweli came out strongly during the meetings. Another name that came up during the meetings was that of the current ANC treasurer general, Paul Mashatile, for the position of deputy president.
The conference will see ANC members contesting the party’s top six positions of president, deputy president, secretary general, deputy secretary, national chairperson and treasurer general.
So far the contest for the ANC presidency is a three horse race between Mkhize, Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa — who so far has been endorsed by the ANC provincial executive committees of Gauteng, Limpopo, Northwest, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.
ANC Mzala Dladla regional secretary, Ntokozo Nxumalo, said the region, which includes the town of Vryheid in Northern KZN, will give the ANC provincial leadership the mandate to lobby other provinces to support Mkhize.
The KZN PEC will now be able to go out and sell comrade Zweli to other provinces.
ANC Musa Dladla regional chairperson, Musa Cebekhulu, said their region, which includes the industrial town of Richards Bay, resolved that Mkhize was also the region’s favourite.
We discussed all the names and arrived at the conclusion that comrade Zweli was the best candidate under the current political climate.
We believe that he has what it takes to lead the ANC.
On the fact that several ANC PECs across the country have already endorsed Ramaphosa, Cebekhulu said a lot could change between now and December.
Just like in other previous national conferences, the position of provinces is subject to change. Our view is that the other provinces are open to dialogue and as such would be willing to be persuaded to look at things differently. In any case most of the ANC branches, including in those provinces which have already taken a position, have not yet held the branch general meetings (BGMs) where they will make a final decision on the matter of candidates.
Like the eThekwini region, Cebekhulu said the Musa Dladla region has also endorsed Mashatile for the ANC deputy president position.
The meetings were meant to assist the ANC KZN provincial executive committee (PEC) to adopt a position on the matter of party candidates who will be vying for positions at the December elective conference.
ANC provincial secretary, Bheki Mtolo, said the PEC did not adopt a position on conference candidates as doing so before the pronouncements of the branches and regions would have been tantamount to imposing the PEC’s views on the party’s lower structures.
It is branches who must identify, on their own, leaders who are best suited to perform the ANC tasks.
Mkhize is currently challenging in court the adverse findings made by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) against him in the unit’s investigation of the Department of Health’s tender awarded to Digital Vibes.