ANC branch in KZN backs Zweli Mkhize in party leadership race

19 September 2022 - 10:53
By Nqubeko Mbhele
Former health minister Zweli Mkhize is welcomed at a memorial lecture in eThekwini.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu Former health minister Zweli Mkhize is welcomed at a memorial lecture in eThekwini.

An influential ANC branch in KwaZulu-Natal has endorsed former health minister Zweli Mkhize to be the next ANC president, as the party gears up to hold its national elective conference in December.

The David Cecil Oxford Matiwane branch said Mkhize is the “most senior member still serving in the current NEC till now, with experience”.

The branch was named after the late struggle stalwart who was jailed several times by the apartheid government. It is situated in the ward 14 Msunduzi subregion, under the ANC Moses Mabhida region in Pietermaritzburg.

“Everyone at Moses Mabhida region knows how dedicated ‘Khabazela’ [Mkhize] is. He is a well respected and selfless leader in the region,” said deputy branch chairperson Sakhile Hadebe, speaking to TimesLIVE at the weekend.

“Mkhize is always up and down in the region and works tirelessly in serving the community and the organisation. Nothing will stop him being elected to be our candidate to the December national elective conference.

“Mkhize works tirelessly, even during his time of rest at his home. He never complains whenever he is called to serve the organisation.

“We will not leave behind other branches in the region if they also want to nominate Mkhize. After that process it will be not in our hands but on the region itself to continue with the process once we have submitted our nominees as branches.”

Despite a dark cloud hanging over Mkhize over “irregularities” in the Digital Vibes scandal, Hadebe said he had not been found guilty by any court.

“I don’t remember Mkhize facing any charges in any court in the country. I also don’t recall of him facing charges within the ANC for misconduct or anything. What I recall was the investigation done by the parliamentary ethics committee that was later cleared, because there were no findings of any misconduct against him.”

Regarding the step-aside rule, he said: “According to my understanding, the ANC step-aside rule only applies to those members who have been found guilty and charged by the courts of law or inside the DC [disciplinary committee]. I do not recall ‘Khabazela’ being found guilty of such.”

“Ideally it is a good thing if a person is tainted with corruption or in any wrongdoing to be removed from leading in the public. But I don’t think it [the step-aside rule] is needed to enforce such. The ANC constitution alone can be able to enforce such, if it is being followed and used properly.

“The way this rule is applied, it also shows that it is not consistent.

“We have a problem with the step-aside policy as it was not a necessary mechanism from the onset. Because if the constitution alone is applied in an appropriate and consistent way, that will be enough to deal with those [issues].

“We have previously seen our leaders being expelled or suspended for years: Tony Yengeni, Mbulelo Goniwe and Julius Malema, who were expelled where there was no step-aside policy, to show that the [ANC] constitution alone, if it is applied appropriately and not being used as a special tool, is enough.”

Hadebe said other branches would be lobbied to nominate Mkhize.

“In our branch, we only see Mkhize as our next leader towards December conference. Once we have elected him, we will then see who are the other leaders we will support after his nomination, though he won't be nominated alone.”

Mkhize said recently at the Victoria Mxenge memorial lecture in eThekwini: “The process of nominations will be left to the branches — and of course as members of the ANC, if the branches made a nomination, I will have to oblige. If there is such a nomination, I will accept it.”

Mkhize was endorsed in July by the Blessing Ninela branch in ward 2 in KwaNyuswa, on the outskirts of Durban, to become the next ANC president for the “huge role” he played as health minister during the Covid-19 pandemic and as KZN premier between 2009 and 2013.

Moses Mabhida regional spokesperson Njabulo “Khandalenja” Mtolo said: “As the region, we will accept nominations from the branches. They’ll be a perspective of the region. The province will also accept nominations from the branches, then it will be a perspective of the province.

“We do not influence the process ... We will allow branches to speak and we will take what they’re saying.”

TimesLIVE

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