Zikalala rejects Mkhize's 'third way' candidate as "opportunism"

"Unity is not a name. Unity is not about an individual. Unity is about the collective and collective leadership," Zikalala said.  (Lisa Skinner)

"Unity is not a name. Unity is not about an individual. Unity is about the collective and collective leadership," Zikalala said. (Lisa Skinner)

ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala has rejected the argument advanced by party treasurer general Dr Zweli Mkhize for a ‘unity’ candidate to replace the existing frontrunners as “opportunism” aimed at subverting democratic practice in the party.

Zikalala, a fierce backer of NEC member and former African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s bid for the ANC presidency at the party conference on December 16, used his political report to the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial General Council to push back at Mkhize’s strategy.

Mkhize has been punting a so-called ‘third way’, suggesting that a compromise candidate may be the way to break down the divisive slate politics which has crippled the party.

Zikalala said that people had ‘‘nominated themselves’’ to stand as president.

Zikalala said some people had been talking about unity to promote themselves and try and “suppress” others, rather than leaving the decision making up to the ANC branches. This was manipulation and “opportunism” under the guise of building unity.

“Unity is not a name. Unity is not about an individual. Unity is about the collective and collective leadership,” Zikalala said.

“Opportunists,” he said, would argue “remove others and put me instead.”

“Unity is a concept, unity is not about an individual,” he said. “Unity is about ensuring that opposing comrades are accommodated.”

ANC Mpumalanga chairperson David Mabuza has also been punting the ‘‘unity’’ idea, but Zikalala’s comments appear to have been aimed at Mkhize.

Zikalala was highly critical of ANC leaders who had approached the leadership race like the presidential primaries in the United States.

“The collective hysteria of these platforms and individualised campaigns in which comrades have been self-justifying and popularising themselves at the expense of the ANC and what it stands for has a huge potential to cause colossal problems to the movement beyond the conference and as we prepare for the 2019 general elections,” he said.

Speaking on the side lines of the PGC, which will announce its nominations for the ANC’s top posts, Zikalala said they were engaging other provinces to agree that all those who contested the top spots be accommodated in the party National Executive Committee (NEC).

“Even those who do not make it to the top six or seven must be accommodated in the NEC. We can’t have leaders who have capacity not elected into leadership positions,” he said.

Turning to Mabuza’s proposal, Zikalala said that while they were engaging other promises, “there are some issues which are negotiable and some on which we remain steadfast.”

“We will be guided by the nominations at the PGC. We must all be humble and ensure that we put the interests of the ANC above the interests of individuals,” he said.

Zikalala said that no matter what the outcome of their appeal against the Pietermaritzburg High Court judgement declaring the PEC’s election in 2015 null and void, “we are going to need each other”.

He said that should Dlamini-Zuma lose, something that “I do not think is possible” he would continue to serve under the successful candidate.

“I am in the ANC. We are all members of the ANC,” he said.

This article was amended to reflect comments made by Sihle Zikalala in reference to ANC treasurer general Dr Zweli Mkhize not Premier of Mpumalanga David Mabuza, as previously stated. 

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