ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma arrives in Empangeni yesterday, where she criticised secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ANA

Durban - The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairperson, Sihle Zikalala, has slammed the party’s secretary-general Gwede Mantashe for saying it was in the best interests of the party for President Jacob Zuma to hand over the reins to his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mantashe revealed his views on the succession debate in the ANC in a series of tweets on Sunday.

Zikalala told hundreds of party supporters from the Musa Dladla region at a cadres forum in Empangeni on Monday that the position Mantashe held required a leader who did not hold a one-sided view.

“The SG says if the ANC does not elect the deputy president there will be a crisis. We cannot have an SG of this mass democratic movement with a one-sided view. The leadership must be open to listen to all members, even to those with different views,” Zikalala said.

Responding to the attack, Mantashe said Zikalala was ­accusing him wrongfuly.

“At a government function in Kimberley, the president expressed his views on who should succeed him. I am also expressing my view on an ­ongoing debate, I have every right to do so,” he said.

Mantashe maintained that if a sitting deputy was overlooked, there should be an ­explanation.

Reiterating his support for ANC national executive committee member and presidential hopeful, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zikalala said the incoming president of the ANC should be someone who has been through the “eye of the needle”.

“You can’t just throw in a name. You have to look at the challenges the country and the party are facing. You elect someone who is up to this task. We must elect leaders who will fight factionalism, corruption and nepotism."

“Our fight after the advent of democracy has changed, we should now elect leaders who can improve the social conditions of our people, which ­include poverty and unemployment,” said Zikalala.

He said Dlamini-Zuma was the type of leader who would bring unity to the party and implement radical economic transformation.

Zikalala took a veiled swipe at Ramaphosa, saying the ANC needed to elect a leader who would stand for the unity of the party.

“That is someone who will not leave when they don’t like something and come back when they want to. People who saw themselves as deputies back in 1994 and lost and then left the ANC are not people who can stand for unity,” he added.

He said the ANC needed a leader who would “not be afraid of the mines” because they had an interest in the mining industry.

Dlamini-Zuma was also critical of Mantashe, saying there was no clause in the ANC constitution that said when electing a president, the decision must be explained.

She warned that divisions emerged when “we invent things that do not exist and are guided by people and not the (ANC) constitution, as that leads to factionalism”.

“The constitution says all leadership positions are open. That is why after the end of the five-year term, the existing leadership can be contested,” she added.

The Mercury