Johannesburg - Presidential hopeful Zweli Mkhize has become the latest senior ANC leader to speak out against what is deemed a dirty tricks campaign against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In an interview with Independent Media on Wednesday, Mkhize said although he didn’t want to be drawn into the debate on Ramaphosa’s matter, the use of private information to target leaders was taking things too far.
“It is difficult to understand who has the capacity to dig out information that is contained in emails. And so it would be a matter of concern for us that if, in trying to navigate through party-political processes and dynamics, we can end up with an interference by a state organ. That we would condemn,” he said.
“Secondly, the issue of using private information that deals with private personal lives is not something that I would encourage,” he added.
Mkhize was responding to questions related to allegations that Ramaphosa was involved in extramarital affairs.
On Tuesday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe also slammed what he called a dirty tricks campaign against Ramaphosa, saying this would instead kill the ANC.
Mkhize said the use of personal information in political contestation was not typical of the run-up to an ANC conference.
“We have not really seen this kind of thing before. It has not been this much. Stories come up in between about people, but we have not really (seen) a campaign or a kind of consistent smear-campaign thing,” Mkhize said.
He added that they did have serious concerns during former president Thabo Mbeki’s administration when rape allegations were levelled against then deputy president Jacob Zuma. He was acquitted of the rape charges in 2006.
Mkhize also for the first time threw his hat into the party’s presidential race, opening it wide open.
This follows similar public declarations by Ramaphosa, former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister in Presidency Jeff Radebe, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and former ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa.
Mkhize said he was also ready to serve if branches of the ANC nominate him next month.
“What is nice is that you are raising these issues before the formal nominations. All I can say is that I intend to be part of the leadership after the conference.
“I will make myself available for the positions that the branches want to nominate me for. I will not argue about who is rightly nominating me for which position. I can just make the contribution as expected or as requested,” he said.
In July, the Alfred Nzo region in the Eastern Cape raised the name of Mkhize as a possible successor to Zuma, in what was coined “the third way”.
Mkhize has also been touted as a deputy to Ramaphosa.
The ANC’s elective conference in December looks set to become the defining moment for the party in the run-up to the general elections in 2019.
There were fears in party ranks that so fierce are the battles and the gulf between factions that there might be a split after December.
Concerns have also deepened about the ills that are slowly killing the organisation, including factionalism, corruption and vote buying.
Mkhize said the coming elective conference was “not up for sale”.
He said no leader was going to win the presidency on the basis of bribing members.
One of the main interventions to curb manipulation of members would be to ensure that the elections are run from the branches to the conference by professional people, to ensure that leaders with a conflict of interest don’t tamper with votes.
This was also to ensure transparency and the credibility of the outcome to avoid it being challenged.
“When coming to this conference, there is no chance that somebody will have their own venue where they will keep their own delegates. As a matter of fact that will never happen. I pay for all the hotels it is not going to happen that someone is going to buy rooms because they’ve got their own slate,” Mkhize said.
“You are also not going to have a situation where someone will have so much money as to buy each and every delegate and tell them who to vote for, and they vote for them,” he added.
Mkhize said there was a strong sentiment among party members for the governing party to return to its glory days and be saved.
“At the moment you will not find that. The overall sentiment is ‘who has been paid?’, as opposed to the sentiment that says ‘we want to fix it, this is ours’,” Mkhize added.