Durban — Former ANC treasurer-general Dr Zweli Mkhize’s ambitions of being elected the ANC president at the elective conference next month were boosted after branches in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal overwhelmingly nominated him.
Kgalema Motlanthe, as the electoral commission chairperson, would formally announce how the nine provinces nominated their preferred top six candidates, but a leaked provincial branch nominations list obtained by the Daily News on Tuesday showed that Mkhize has beaten his arch-rival President Cyril Ramaphosa by a big margin in KZN.
In the province’s presidential nominations, Mkhize received the backing of 643 of the 763 branches, with Ramaphosa trailing on 60. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who is also from the province, only garnered 24 nominations while her ex-husband, former president Jacob Zuma, received one nomination from the eThekwini region.
Mkhize’s biggest nominations came from eThekwini where he received 91, followed by his own Moses Mabhida region with 77 nominations.
Ramaphosa’s biggest support came from the Inkosi Bhambatha region, which incorporates Greytown, Msinga, Nquthu and Dundee towns, where he got 15 nominations followed by Mzala Nxumalo region, formerly known as Zululand, where he obtained 11 votes.
He also picked up a few votes in KwaDukuza, Moses Mabhida (Pietermaritzburg), Musa Dladla (Richards Bay) Tolomane Mnyayiza (Lower South Coast) as well as eThekwini, where he got six nominations.
The branches seemed to have not deviated from the province’s position, which had long pronounced Mkhize as the provincial choice for the presidential position.
The patterns showed the branches followed the slate that was announced by the provincial leadership and regions with party treasurer-general Paul Mashatile emerging as a strong contender for the position of deputy president with 521 nominations against that of Ramaphosa’s running mate Senzo Mchunu, who received 129.
In line with the provincial leadership’s choice the branches also chose current Limpopo chairperson Stan Mathabatha for the position of national chairperson with 502 votes. Gwede Mantashe scored 61.
The branches further aligned themselves with the provincial leadership by nominating former Eastern Cape chairperson Phumulo Masualle for the secretary-general position with 412 against former KZN secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli who did fairly well with 241 nominations.
Fikile Mbalula, favoured by Ramaphosa’s faction over Ntuli, received 30 votes. Malusi Gigaba, who has also raised his hand, only garnered 10 votes from his home province.
For the deputy secretary position, Nomvula Mokonyane, who was also KZN’s choice, came out tops with 622 nominations with ANC general manager Febe Potgieter far behind with only 31 votes.
In the race for the position of treasurer-general, current Ekurhuleni regional chairperson Mzwandile Masina surprisingly concluded Mkhize’s slate with 173 votes, beating Andile Lungisa and Bejani Chauke who got 88 and 81, respectively. In this category, there are 161 votes still up for grabs as branches did not nominate anyone except delegates.
Mkhize’s chief lobbyist Simphiwe Blose said he was very happy with the branches’ overwhelming support for his candidate because it made it easy to lobby other provinces. He said the number for Mkhize might still grow since in almost all the positions there are about 60 branches that did not nominate.
KwaZulu-Natal provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said only Motlanthe has the power to announce the province’s choice of the top six.
Professor Sipho Seepe said ANC branches across KZN have decided. There were no shenanigans in the processes to determine the next president of the ANC, he said. Mkhize has been in the Struggle and in government for a long time … “that increases his chances of emerging triumphant at the upcoming elective conference”.
“Dr Mkhize is a tried and tested candidate. He has occupied a number of positions as KZN (health) MEC, KZN premier, and later as national health minister which all count for him to emerge the winner at the conference.”
Professor Bheki Mngomezulu said anyone has a chance at becoming the next ANC president after Nasrec, but cautioned that Mkhize’s endorsement by the majority of KZN ANC branches does not guarantee him success.
“The ANC branches have spoken, but the challenge for Mkhize is that he will have to shift his focus to the other provinces where Ramaphosa has a bigger chunk of presidential nominations.”