Zweli Mkhize: ‘We are calling for unity’

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – APRIL 21: African National Congress (ANC) treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize during an interview on April 21, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mkhize wants the party’s youth league to be “trained in tolerance” after its recent disruption of the Durban memorial service for ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, saying they needed to understand that views that differed from their own were allowed. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Leon Sadiki)

NAME: Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize

AGE: 61

IN GOVERNMENT: Zweli Mkhize served as KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC between 1994 and 2004.

Between 2004 and 2009, he served as KZN MEC for Finance and Economic Development.

From 2008 until 2012, he served as the ANC’s KZN provincial chairperson.

He was the chairperson of the 2010 World Cup political oversight committee between 2006 and 2010. He was appointed to serve as the premier of KZN in 2009, a position he held until 2013.

In December 2012, during the ANC’s 53rd National Conference in Mangaung, he was appointed as the party’s treasure-general, a position which he currently holds.

UPSIDE:  Mkhize has stood firm on unity and organisational renewal during the race. At almost all of his public appearances, be it cadre’s forums or funerals, he has preached for unity in the party.

According to an EWN report, while speaking to leaders of the Young Communist League at the Progressive Black Academic Summit in Johannesburg, Mkhize said: “This conference is marked by problems of divisions and factions. We are calling for unity. You can only achieve radical economic transformation and fight corruption with a united organisation.”

Mkhize has also been touted as the “unity candidate”. He was also reported to be the compromise candidate in the highly fractured leadership race.

DOWNSIDE: Mkhize’s close relationship to President Jacob Zuma could be his downfall.

He also appears to have lost touch with his home province since taking on national duties.

He was one of many senior leaders who heavily criticised Zuma for one of his many Cabinet reshuffles and then later retracted. The fact that he is Zulu could throw a spanner in the works.

ON RET: “We believe our economy needs to deliver for us three things: One, there must be growth; two, there must be jobs; three, there must be radical economic transformation,” Mkhize said in an eNCA interview.

SUPPORT BASE: According to The Citizen, Mkhize has reportedly been nominated for the deputy president position by a branch in Limpopo. The Alfred Nzo region in the Eastern Cape also preferred that he take over after Zuma vacates his office. The ANC’s Amakhabela branch in the Inkosi Bhambatha region in KZN has reportedly nominated Mkhize to be deputy president on Cyril Ramaphosa’s slate.

ON STATE CAPTURE: “This issue of state capture is a huge embarrassment. We take it as a form of corruption… The president has agreed to institute the commission. It is not a matter of us forcing him to do it, he has agreed,” he said at a Joburg Indaba recently.

SLATE: Although he has said he has regrets about slate politics, Mkhize’s name has come up in Ramaphosa’s slate as the preferred candidate to be his deputy.

He recently told reporters, “My major regret is that we entrenched a lot of slate politics in 2007. I have to admit I was at the centre of it.”

What are his chances? Insiders in his campaign have said that he was still hopeful of a nomination from the floor which requires a 25% vote from voting delegates. News24 understands that Mkhize is weighing his options.

(Photo credit: Gallo Images / City Press / Leon Sadiki)