DURBAN - FORMER KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson Dr Zweli Mkhize’s bid for the ruling party’s presidency is gaining momentum with several branches in the Moses Mabhida Region raising his name as their preferred candidate for party president.
Following the conclusion of regional conferences, with the Inkosi Bhambatha Region elective conference concluding on Sunday, focus has shifted to the provincial conference, set for July.
ANC KZN spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said branches were allowed to start discussing the names of their preferred candidates, but stressed this was for provincial leadership at this stage.
“The process is that everything starts at a branch, then moves to region, province and then national,” Ntombela insisted.
While the province has issued this guideline, this has not stopped branches from discussing the national leadership contest.
Several branches in the Moses Mabhida Region, which is made up of Pietermaritzburg and surrounding towns such as Richmond and Howick, have held branch general meetings where Mkhize’s name was raised.
The development comes as Mkhize, the former party treasurer-general, is criss-crossing the province and country to drum up support in a bid to unseat sitting president Cyril Ramaphosa at the party’s elective conference in December.
The Mercury’s sister newspaper, the Daily News reported that at the weekend wedding of Mkhize’s son Dedani Mkhize at Willowfontein township, Mkhize was overwhelmingly endorsed by some traditional leaders and a senior leader of the ANC in the eThekwini Region.
A branch member from Moses Mabhida Region, who did not want to be named as they were not authorised to speak, said: “He is definitely making inroads and his campaign is increasingly gaining momentum. About 15% of the branches have sat and have thrown their weight behind him.”
The ANC branch member said it was crucial for Mkhize – who hails from the same region – to get an endorsement from the region.
Another ANC member in eThekwini Region gave an indication that KZN would be pushing for representation in the top six of the national leadership, a move that will place Mkhize in the pound seats for the party leadership.
“At the moment, he is the only leader in the province with a national profile and this makes him an ideal candidate to be in the top six.”
In response to the endorsement by some traditional leaders, the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders said it would not be drawn into ANC politics.
The House of Traditional Leaders chairperson Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza said the institution was impartial and would not be drawn into party politics.
Mkhize, who has also travelled to the Eastern Cape recently, is likely to face-off against Ramaphosa and Lindiwe Sisulu for the ruling party’s top position. Both Sisulu and Mkhize have in the past expressed an interest in the party presidency.