Zweli Mkhize

The ANC’S trea­surer is a po­ten­tial com­pro­mise can­di­date in the race to re­place Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma as party leader at the end of 2017. He is call­ing for the party to re­form it­self to staunch the ex­o­dus of sup­port­ers

The Africa Report - - BRIEFING - Gre­gory Mthembu-sal­ter in Kwazulu-natal and Pa­trick Smith

IN THE DRY YEL­LOW PAS­TURES of Mid­lands, in the heart­lands of Kwazulu-natal, the man who could be the next pres­i­dent of South Africa gazes fondly at the herd of Nguni cat­tle graz­ing on his farm and whis­tles softly. For Zweli Mkhize, trea­surer gen­eral of the gov­ern­ing African Na­tional Congress (ANC) and a for­mer pre­mier of Kwazulu-natal Province, this is home. Small chil­dren scut­tle around him, tug­ging at his sleeve: “The grand­chil­dren love to come with me to see our cat­tle […]. For me, be­ing with cat­tle is sec­ond na­ture.” Point­ing to a boy of three or four years, Mkhize says: “I looked af­ter them when I was as high as this lit­tle one. On my own. It was cat­tle that linked me to my fa­ther. Most of the time with him it was ‘Why didn’t you fetch the cat­tle on time?’, ‘Why are not all of them in?’ That kind of thing.” His fa­ther, a dis­ci­plinar­ian, died when Mkhize was eight. At the time, five cows had just been born and the young Mkhize had named them all, an im­por­tant Zulu tra­di­tion. “I wanted to tell him, but it was too late. My fa­ther passed away be­fore I could do so.” Cat­tle, says Mkhize, of­fer some respite from the rigours of pol­i­tics. They are also a con­nec­tion to Zulu

cul­ture, its deep con­cern with cat­tle and their re­la­tions with peo­ple – the liv­ing and the dead. But above all, the herd is a liveli­hood. “We have sold some cat­tle for lobola (dowry), but the fo­cus is […] to sell them off – not to abat­toirs, but to other Nguni breed­ers.” A med­i­cal doc­tor, Mkhize ap­pre­ci­ates the har­di­ness of th­ese in­dige­nous cat­tle, with their dis­tinc­tive dap­pled coats: “Ngu­nis are very fer­tile, have strong im­mune sys­tems and can sur­vive harsh con­di­tions.” Faced with the ef­fects of cli­mate change in South Africa, Mkhize says Nguni may be the breed that adapts the most ef­fec­tively. South Africa’s febrile pol­i­tics is in the midst of its own cli­mate change. Af­ter the ANC’S drub­bing in lo­cal

Up un­til two months ago, we didn´t have any de­tected cases, but now we have two cases of Zika An­gola’s health min­is­ter Luís Gomes Sambo warned of a new health threat, fol­low­ing the coun­try’s yel­low fever out­break last year.

Our party is among in­sti­tu­tions ac­cused of ram­pant cor­rup­tion – this is not a se­cret Tan­za­nia’s Pres­i­dent John Magu­fuli says he will not ig­nore his own Chama Cha Mapin­duzi party in his anti-graft drive.

elec­tions last Au­gust, Mkhize was the first se­nior party of­fi­cial to set out an un­palat­able choice: adapt or die. If the ANC does not change, it risks los­ing power at the next na­tional elec­tions in 2019, Mkhize warned. He and Zuma both hail from Kwazu­luNatal, but an ANC in­sider told The Africa Re­port the two men are no longer close, even if they still re­spect each other’s po­lit­i­cal skills. Apart from the gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences – Mkhize is 60, Zuma 74 – they are also back­ing dif­fer­ent sides in the bat­tle for con­trol of the ANC in their home province. Whether they can strike a deal on the na­tional stage is an open ques­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Gwede Man­tashe, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the ANC, there are six con­tenders for the party’s pres­i­dency ahead of the elec­tive con­fer­ence at the end of the year. In the reck­on­ing of many ac­tivists, Mkhize is just be­hind the two fron­trun­ners – deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and out­go­ing African Union Com­mis­sion chair­woman Nkosazana Dlamini-zuma. Of­fi­cials fear that fac­tional dis­putes ahead of the elec­tion could fur­ther weaken the party. Ramaphosa has the en­dorse­ment of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Com­mu­nist Party; DlaminiZuma has back­ing from the ANC women’s and youth leagues, and tacit sup­port from ex-hus­band Ja­cob Zuma. That could help a can­di­date out­side the duel be­tween Ramaphosa and Dlamini-zuma. At the be­gin­ning of an­other bruis­ing year for the ANC, the prospect of a Mkhize pres­i­dency pulling the party to­gether looks in­creas­ingly ap­peal­ing for many ac­tivists watch­ing the on­ward march of their op­po­si­tion ri­vals.

They will con­sstruct five toi­lets in Gwoza and fly ini he­li­copters more than seven times to innspect the toi­lets. Borno State gover­nor Ka ashim Shet­tima crit­i­cised NGOS and in­ter­na­tional agen­cies re­spond­ingg to the Boko Haram cri­sis in the north-east.

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