DURBAN - Former Moses Mabhida regional chairperson and ANC provincial executive member Alpha Shelembe has come out in support of Dr Zweli Mkhize to be elected as party president at the coming 55th conference.
Shelembe was speaking at an event in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday at which Mkhize was a keynote speaker.
Shelembe said in 2012 in the run-up to the 53rd conference in Mangaung in the Free State the province decided to put Mkhize in the top six structure as treasurer-general with the intention to ultimately elect him to the presidency in 2017, saying he did not see the reason why the province would not fulfil its promise at the coming conference and elect him to the presidency.
Their plan was however disturbed by the decision of the national Women’s League that nominated Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as a presidential candidate.
“As the province, we had to respect that decision considering that Dr Dlamini was nominated by the upper structure and she is from the province. We also felt it was not going to make sense to have both contesting for the same position. As far as I know, the province has not changed from that position and since Dr Dlamini-Zuma was no longer contesting I do not see the reason why the province would not revisit its 2012 decision. We wanted Mkhize to be either deputy or president whichever came first,” said Shelembe.
Mkhize has not announced whether he was available for the party’s highest position but it was widely known he would accept the nomination. Mkhize refused to answer media questions; he was only prepared to take questions in relation to the foundation launch.
The Daily News also learnt that many regions would back Mkhize when the nomination process opens. ANC national executive member, Ruth Bhengu, who introduced Mkhize as keynote speaker refused to say whether she would support him for president, saying her branch has not taken the decision.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said branches decide who to back when the nomination process was opened. Last week Mkhize was visited by the church and traditional leaders who urged him to avail himself for the presidential position.
The event which Mkhize attended was the launch of Thembela Foundation by businessman Thokozani Gcaba. In his speech, Mkhize called on black youth to ensure the economy was returned to the majority of the people. It is not clear for now whether the group known as the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) in the ANC would back his presidential campaign, but it is known for calling for radical transformation of the economy for black people.
Gcaba who chairs 51 co-operatives in the province said he would soon launch a co-operative bank under his company Sakhumnotho Financial Services co-operative. He praised Mkhize for raising them to be where they are now as Pietermaritzburg young people and vowed to support him.