Johannesburg - The “dirty tricks” campaign against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will not disqualify the former trade unionist from contesting to become the ANC’s president.
This was the assertion made on Thursday by ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize, who has also just joined the race to succeed President Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s elective conference in December.
Mkhize was answering questions in Sandton after addressing a conversation on women in leadership hosted by Investec on Thursday.
He said all the allegations which dominated newspaper headlines over the weekend do not fall within his party’s requirements to declare a person unfit to lead the ANC.
“These dirty tricks are not within our control. They are not enough to disqualify a person to participate in the elections,” he said.
Later, when faced with a barrage of questions, he told journalists that he did not want to be “drawn into private or personal issues” of people but admitted that mud could be thrown against him too, especially after pronouncing his availability for any position within the top six of the ANC.
“It is possible that stuff may come out in a form of fake news or people just trying to create a perception,” he said.
While Mkhize became the sixth person to put his hat in the ring for the top position in the ANC, he expressed hope that the contenders could be trimmed to a manageable number.
He made the concession without indicating whether he would offer to back one of the other candidates.
Mkhize said he would want the debates leading up to the December conference to have “less conflict and tensions”, saying ANC members, including the leaders, should be preoccupied with how to unify the ANC.
“We must create an atmosphere to unite the ANC and to prevent having a destructive conference,” Mkhize said.
He pledged to engage people broadly on the matter, saying his bid was to create “harmony and unity and to bring an understanding to comrades that we should avoid potential for a split” within the ANC.
“We learnt enough over the last 10 years,” Mkhize said, in an apparent reference to the chaotic December 2007 elective conference in Polokwane, where Zuma took over from Thabo Mbeki as party president.
A few months later, various cabinet members aligned to Mbeki resigned from their posts after Mbeki was recalled from the national presidency.
Others like Mosiuoa Lekota and former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa, in protest against the recall, formed the Congress of the People (Cope). However, Lekota and Shilowa’s marriage was short-lived after the two became entangled in an ugly leadership battle.
While the relations between them were rosy, Cope made a significant showing in the 2009 national elections but the numbers, after the squabble, drastically dwindled in parliament and the provincial legislatures.
These factors, prompted Mkhize to urge party members to avoid another destructive conference.