Home News Cyril Ramaphosa, Zweli Mkhize go head to head in ANC leadership battle

Cyril Ramaphosa, Zweli Mkhize go head to head in ANC leadership battle

Mashudu Sadike and Ntombi Nkosi

Pretoria – The stage is set for the ANC’s 55th national conference, where embattled President Cyril Ramaphosa goes head-to-head with his former health minister, Zweli Mkhize, for the party’s leadership.

The conference is to take place at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, next week.

Yesterday, the party hosted a media tour of Nasrec to exhibit the arena where the pair is to battle it out.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said it was all systems go and all disputes had been resolved.

Mabe clarified reports suggesting that media should pay to cover the conference.

“The ANC never said the media should pay to cover the conference,” he said, urging journalists to bring their own furniture and other branding, and not to expect the party to provide for them.

The media has been told to get their accreditation at the FNB Stadium on December 13 and 14, and Mabe urged them not to be caught exchanging accreditation and not being in restricted areas “or else they would be arrested and charged”.

Despite clouds hanging over Ramaphosa and Mkhize, the two former close allies look set for fierce competition at the conference. Ramaphosa goes to the conference with 2 037 nominations and Mkhize 916.

Mkhize is a medical doctor and politician, who served as the minister of health from May, 2019 until his resignation on August 5, 2021.

He previously served as the co=operative governance and traditional affairs minister from 2018 to 2019.

Mkhize was an anti-apartheid activist in Umkhonto we Sizwe. He has a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and was elected provincial chairperson of the ANC in 2008.

He rose to national prominence in 2012 when he was elected national treasurer-general of the ANC at the party’s 53rd national conference.

Mkhize played a central role in South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic before he resigned amid allegations that he and his family had benefited improperly from a state contract awarded to a communications company, Digital Vibes.

In October this year, Mkhize called on the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to make amendments to the Digital Vibes report, following its admission that it did not have the Cabinet documents it had relied on to make the adverse findings against him.

Mkhize said the SIU’s report, released in June last year, stated that he had violated the Constitution by allowing the Department of Health to appoint Digital Vibes, even though the Cabinet had chosen the Government Communication and Information System.

Ramaphosa, a businessman and politician, is the fifth democratically elected president of South Africa as well as president of the ANC.

He became involved in student politics at the University of the North, where he was studying law, in 1972.

In 1982, at the request of the Council of Unions of South Africa, he founded the National Union of Mineworkers with Dr James Motlatsi and Dr Elijah Barayi and became its first general-secretary.

He was appointed deputy chairperson of the National Planning Commission in 2010, a body created to draft the National Development Plan.

In December, 2012 he was elected ANC deputy president at the ANC’s 53rd national conference in Mangaung.

Ramaphosa was appointed deputy president in May 2014 under president Jacob Zuma.

In December, 2017 he was elected 13th ANC president at the national conference at Nasrec.

Despite vowing to root out corruption and fix the economy when he took office in 2018, his skeletons started coming out of the cupboard.

Last week a Section 89 panel ­investigating his Phala Phala farm theft found that he had a case to answer for.

A few years ago, Ramaphosa was implicated in illicit financial outflows when he was at Shanduka, Lonmin and MTN.

Shanduka Holdings, which is unlisted with Ramaphosa as shareholder, became one of the biggest black-owned groups in the country, holding 10% stakes in South Africa’s biggest bank, Standard Bank, and the insurer Liberty.

Earlier this year, former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid a criminal charge relating to the Phala Phala matter against Ramaphosa at the Rosebank police station.

It remains to be seen who will emerge victorious at the battle of Nasrec.

Pretoria News