Mkhize rejects Zuma proposal, warns against branch bullying

ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize has rejected President Jacob Zuma’s call for the loser of the party’s succession race to automatically become deputy president.

Zuma made the proposal during his closing address at the ANC policy conference in June, arguing that it would foster unity if the two leading candidates to replace him at the ANC’s December national conference were to become leader and deputy leader of the party.

The outgoing ANC president suggested that the candidate who loses out on the party presidency should become its first deputy president, with branches nominating candidates for a second deputy.

Mkhize disagrees: “What you can never do is to give someone a position simply because they failed to get another position. You have to go through the nominations and allow the space for alternative candidates’ names to be put on the table,” he told the Mail & Guardian this week.

Mkhize, who has been tipped for both the president and deputy president positions, believes the branches should be allowed to nominate their preferred candidates for any position in the party.

“You don’t ever disqualify branch nominations; it’s always important to make sure that branches’ views can also be heard. So, that process needs to be protected,” he added.

Those likely to contest for the position of party president include Mkhize, former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, ministers Lindiwe Sisulu and Jeff Radebe, and Mkhize’s predecessor as party treasurer, Mathews Phosa.

Each of the candidates has emerged with a preferred “slate” of ANC leaders who would join them in the deputy, secretary general and national chairperson positions, and these are in turn aligned with different factions in the party.

This week Mkhize warned that “slate politics” could lead to a lower calibre of leadership ascending to the ANC’s highest structures.

“And one other problem is that sometimes you will have in the leadership people who may not be as capable … [They are] only coming in because of the slates that have propelled them in.”

He said that, although the branches should be free to nominate who they choose, a consolidation of leadership preferences is a step in the right direction.

The ANC’s December conference, he said, should revise the process the party uses to nominate and elect its leaders.

“We need to create an environment where leadership issues are discussed openly … because even if you disagree, you get a more united organisation if people have discussed issues openly,” he explained.

He criticised the culture of gatekeeping within the organisation.

“Hopefully, the conference will make sure there’s no gatekeeping, where certain candidates can only be there because they are favoured by some of the leadership … and others can’t get there because they are not favoured by other leadership,” Mkhize said.

Meanwhile, Mkhize, who is the treasurer and former chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, said the party leadership’s decision to allow potential candidates to be discussed ahead of official branch nominations has led to social media campaigning taking place without any rules.

In effect, some of the party’s leaders are campaigning for positions that no one has nominated them for.

“The risk of doing something that is new and has got no rules is that it’s going to be very difficult to manage,” Mkhize said.

Without an agreement to regulate how candidates for ANC leadership positions are allowed to campaign on social media, the will of the branches risks being subverted, Mkhize warned.

“Part of the strain the ANC is going through is because of the approach we’ve used, which no one has used before,” he said.

“We can only hope that what has been happening now won’t create a situation where branches feel they are bullied to take certain nominations.”

Mkhize added: “We didn’t [set rules for social media campaigning] and I think the approach has had very serious weaknesses. The only thing that one can say is that we need to formalise the process and make sure that the rules are clear.

“This time around, we allowed a process where people announced [their candidacy for positions] outside the process of the branches,” Mkhize said.

“So what we are engaging with in public is not really branch nominations.

“We are engaging with candidates that have announced themselves.”

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

Advertisting

‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders