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ANC chief whip slams Dr Zweli Mkhize’s presidential campaign as divisive

Former health minister Zweli Mkhize upped the ante in his fight for the ANC presidency in December after he expressed willingness to accept the desires of some supporters for him to become the next head of state. Picture: Sihle Mavuso

Former health minister Zweli Mkhize upped the ante in his fight for the ANC presidency in December after he expressed willingness to accept the desires of some supporters for him to become the next head of state. Picture: Sihle Mavuso

Published May 25, 2022

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Durban - An ANC heavyweight in North West province has slammed the presidential campaign of former Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, as divisive and worrisome for the governing party.

Paul Sebegoe, among other salvoes, said Mkhize is trying to project himself as a victim of law enforcement agencies that are bending to the interests of politicians.

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The ANC chief whip in the province, writing in his personal capacity as a member of the party’s ward 11 in the mining town of Rustenburg, said the candidacy of Mkhize would not only serve to divide the ANC further but would, if successful, lead to the defeat of the organisation in 2024.

Over the past weekend, Mkhize, who is entangled in the Digital Vibes corruption tender scandal (which he is trying to set aside in court), used the umgcagco (Zulu wedding ceremony) of his son, Dedani and his wife, Sithokozile Mthembu, to accept an endorsement from traditional leaders to contest for the position.

Mkhize, who by then was wearing a leopard skin that had been given to him by the traditional leaders as a sign of their endorsement, said he could not defy a call from the people.

He then took the opportunity to speak about what he suggested was a campaign to eliminate him from the running for the position. He said every day he had to answer “suspicious” questions from the media.

He had even been asked to answer questions about the political violence in Richmond in the 1990s, and about tenders relating to the province’s controversial circumcision programme, where a device used was procured from Malaysia when he was premier.

“Let the law take its course and investigators do their job. However, some of these things come up as a campaign, even if you answer some of the questions, go to court (to clear yourself), and new issues pop up.

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"It has now become clear to us that there are some political leaders who are in cohorts with big companies to unleash private investigators and journalists to go and look for anything they can get. Right today I have a long list of questions from journalists to answer,” Mkhize told the crowd that came to listen to him.

Sebegoe says all this amounted to “an opportunistic move” by Mkhize.

”This is an opportunistic move that will undoubtedly undermine the unity and renewal project aimed at among others restoring public confidence in the ANC,” Sebegoe said, further describing it as a ploy to seek sympathy through playing the victim.

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“The objective of the step-aside policy adopted by the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) was to ensure that individuals who are facing charges are ineligible to occupy leadership positions in the organisation and as elected public representatives,” he stressed.

He said that a leader of Mkhize’s stature should put the interests of the ANC above his own.

“When this is not the case, then individual members of the organisation and the public should be worried about the direction the organisation is taking particularly when individuals who are implicated in serious allegations of fraud, corruption and money laundering seek to be at the helm of the organisation at all costs irrespective of the consequences,” added Sebegoe.

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Sebegoe said they are familiar with the tactics Mkhize is currently using to win the hearts and the minds of the people.

“We are however all familiar with the concocted narrative suggesting the use of state agencies to fight political battles aimed at distorting facts by those who do not want to be held accountable.”

Firing back, the campaign team of Mkhize said the only time they would be interested in Sebegoe’s personal views is once these have been processed by his branch. Until then, they said they would advise Sebegoe “to go and seek attention somewhere else”.

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