Mkhize offers to unite a divided ANC
JOHANNESBURG — As the battle to succeed President Jacob Zuma as leader of South Africa’s ruling party grows increasingly bitter, ANC treasurergeneral Zweli Mkhize is positioning himself as the one candidate who can stop the African National Congress from splitting apart.
“If I was to be elected there are specific things that I would contribute to the ANC that would take it forward — unity is the one main issue,” Mkhize said in an interview on Tuesday at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office. “I have got the advantage of being able to work with literally any leader in the organisation.”
Mkhize (61) has emerged in recent weeks as a potential successor to Zuma, who is due to step down as ANC leader at its elective conference in December and as national president in 2019. He’s won support in KwaZuluNatal and Mpumalanga, two provinces hosting the most ANC members.
Mkhize trained as a medical doctor and spent five years in exile in Swaziland and Zimbabwe during apartheid rule. He returned home in 1991 and rose through the ranks of the ANC in KwaZuluNatal, being appointed as the region’s premier in 2009.
He relinquished that post in 2013, the year after his appointment as the ANC’s treasurergeneral.
While Mkhize didn’t directly criticise Zuma, he said the ANC’s next leader must make it a priority to fight corruption and ensure those who commit crimes are brought to justice.
“There is nothing that should absolve anyone from criminal investigation or prosecution only on the leadership in the government or in the African National Congress,” he said.
Mkhize rejected suggestions that he was Zuma’s favoured successor and that the president had expressed support for DlaminiZuma as a decoy to throw his opponents off track.
“People will create stories and sometimes throw dust, throw doubt,” he said. “I’m Zweli Mkhize. I’m not anybody’s compromise. I am my own person and I have my own record as part of the leadership of the ANC.”