Mkhize: I will help heal a divided ANC
Paddy Harper asks the party’s ‘unity’ presidential candidate whether his rivals have been wooing him
Unity has been a central theme of your campaign. The levels of disunity in the ANC are increasing. Is this a concern?
The need for unity is more pronounced now than ever before.
It is something that has to be worked for and worked on, and something we have to continue to ensure is achieved. The success of any ANC policy decisions and any ANC government is dependent on an ANC that is strong.
There is speculation that you may collapse your campaign and stand as deputy to Cyril Ramaphosa. Have there been any such discussions?
At this moment, we are all just out there, making ourselves available. The best time to discuss this would be when we have the nominations in. Once the branches have nominated, we will know what the mandate from the branches is going to be. At this moment, it is a bit too early to see a few nominations and take a decision.
There has also been speculation that you are a proxy candidate for the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma camp. Have you had approaches from them?
There are no approaches. Our names are out there and being debated and people are wanting to do their speculation. One stands on the basis of one’s desire to serve and having been approached and what one wishes to contribute in building the ANC and leading it. The speculation has gone all over. My issue would be that we need to see ANC leaders as belonging to one and the same organisation. The branches must help to say how they would formulate, how they would like them [the candidates] to be positioned. Everybody must be willing and ready to serve.
Should you be elected as ANC president, what would your approach be?
The starting thing is to focus on the ills that have divided the organisation. Internal indiscipline, factionalism, slate politics, internal infighting — we have to deal with all those issues. We need to bring back the culture of tolerance, of criticism; we need to take action against those who undermine the organisation, those who bring the party into disrepute. We will be working very hard to deal with corruption, both in the party and in the state. Hopefully by that time we would have had a process in place to deal with the problem of state capture … towards clean governance and an intolerance when it comes to corruption.
The other focus would be on building the economy to ensure that there is growth and job creation and economic transformation. We cannot address the challenges we face unless we can ignite this economy and get it to grow. We need to help create black industrialists, to boost small business and local economic development.
You are one of the people who were very close to President Jacob Zuma. Do you regret supporting him to be elected ANC president in 2007?
I don’t have regrets about supporting President Zuma. I do have regrets about starting and helping entrench slate politics. We have a problem of factionalism getting deeper and deeper into the culture of the organisation. My regret is that we haven’t been able to get rid of it and root it out. I believe that the time to do so is now. If we don’t do it now, it will be a lost opportunity.
Have there been discussions with comrades in KwaZulu-Natal to deal with the resentment over the 2015 elective conference?
We have had discussions with Comrade Senzo Mchunu and with the PEC [ANC provincial executive committee]. I initiated some discussions. Initially they didn’t succeed, but the process seems to be back on now.
What are your thoughts on the most recent accusations against President Zuma that he received a salary of R1-million from a private security company months after he was sworn in as president and that he failed to submit tax returns for five years? All these allegations follow on those of state capture.
On state capture, one really hopes that the process in court and the appointment of the commission into state capture will be finalised and that it can get under way. That is what we need: a thorough investigation and decisions as to who is culpable and what action should be taken, along with actions to prevent it from taking place in future. On the most recent revelations, these need to be tested … so as to decide on their veracity. It is difficult to speculate on what is in the newspapers.
Which branches are supporting you?
I have not received a report as yet. Once branches have nominated in full, we will know. Right now, anybody can take a picture of something and post it on social media. Once the nominations have gone to the provincial general councils, we will know what the picture is.
What are your views on the expropriation of land without compensation?
The struggle was based on land dispossession. If you look around, you will see land hunger, even in urban areas. The land issue is a very emotive one. We need to find a way to accelerate the return of land.
We need to work on the challenge of people who have been given land but not the proper support and technical backing … on issues of land tenure. A lot can be done with the Constitution as it stands.
We have agreed as the ANC to see at what level the Constitution is a hindrance to land restitution. We also need to look at the issue of price speculation and see how it can be dealt with.