Durban – Former health minister Zweli Mkhize is likely to be elected the next ANC president, with the majority of branches in KwaZulu-Natal throwing their support behind him.
The tallying of nominations for the top-six positions in the governing party was under way as the ANC gets ready for its elective conference, to take place in Johannesburg next month.
According to sources in the ANC in KZN, nominations for Mkhize to become the next president outweigh those of Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who was also contesting the position.
While the KZN provincial executive committee (PEC) has endorsed Mkhize for president, it has chosen Phumulo Masualle, former ANC chairperson in the Eastern Cape, for the position of secretary-general.
Mkhize, who resigned from the health ministry following allegations of fraud and corruption relating to a R150-million tender awarded to communications company Digital Vibes during the Covid-19 pandemic, has been engaging with various branches, including the ANC Youth League.
This week, KZN ANC secretary Bheki Mtolo, told IOL that about 95% of ANC branches in the province had nominated Mkhize. “We are 200% confident that he will be the party president next month,” Mtolo said.
He said Mkhize’s endorsement by the party’s youth league demonstrated that he was a national, and not just a KZN, leader.
Dlamini Zuma, who is challenging the position for the second time after losing the previous conference to President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2017, was endorsed by her branch in Durban Central.
She also has the support of former president Jacob Zuma, her ex-husband, who is an influential member of the ANC. She recently told the media that she was in the presidential race to win it. A source further revealed that former ANC KZN secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli had received a significant number of nominations for the secretary-general position, with the majority coming from the Moses Mabhida region in Pietermaritzburg.
Ntuli has been criss-crossing the country to lobby. In an interview with the Sunday Tribune this week, he said he was confident his name would be called when the nominations were announced.
Ntuli was unfazed by the fact that the PEC had snubbed him, and instead put his faith in the branches. Ntuli said he had worked at the ANC headquarters for 10 years as a national organiser before he was elected as secretary of the province. He believed that his experience would work in his favour.
“Working in the national office exposed me to all ANC regions in the country, and I was the secretary of the biggest ANC province with complex dynamics.
“Should I get elected, it will work in my favour to rebuild the ANC, which is in crisis, to prepare for the 2024 general election,” he said. KZN ANC spokesperson Mafika Mndebele confirmed that they had concluded the counting of nominations for the province, but said the results would be announced by the official electoral agency of the ANC.
He said 780 branches from KZN had qualified to send delegates to the national conference, which made KZN the biggest delegation by far.
Candidates with the most nominations for the top six positions would be listed on the ballot to be voted on by the delegates from each branch and other ANC structures.
The ANC in KZN was hoping to reclaim its dominance in the party after failing to make the top six in the previous conference, despite being the largest and most influential grouping.
Mtolo refused to comment on the branch nominations, particularly after the PEC had announced its preferred for candidates. He said the nomination process was being handled by former president Kgalema Motlanthe as the chair of ANC electoral committee, and all queries should be directed to him.
The Sunday Tribune understands that all nominations have been handed to the ANC headquarters in Luthuli House, where the ballots are being prepared. According to the party’s electoral committee secretary, Chief Livhuwani Matsila, the counting and verification would be finalised by the end of the month. He said they were busy capturing the results and an announcement would be made in due course.