ANC treasurer-general Dr Zweli Mkhize says the possibility of the party’s elective conference in December collapsing is a real concern following this week’s court judgment in KwaZulu-Natal.
“It is actually a real concern but it is a concern that the leadership is taking into account as we intervene in this matter. What would be most important is to avoid that any of the outcomes of the court should contaminate the clean and impeccable process of preparation for the conference,” the former premier of KwaZulu-Natal told a gathering of small business owners in Durban.
On Tuesday, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled that the 2015 provincial conference of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal was unlawful and void.
Mkhize said that at the heart of the legal battle was divisions in the province.
“At the core of this are the divisions inside the province. We need to address that issue. In addressing that issue we need to understand that the issues are largely political and the leadership has to submit themselves to intervention by national leaders to deal with the issues. We as the national leadership are prepared to take responsibility for resolving these issues.”
This province has been exemplary in the ANC family – it has had unity, it has dealt with violence, it ensured there was reconciliation. It never mattered who was inside or outside the structure, there was no purging, there was no manipulation of processes, it had no challenges of gate-keeping.
“If we do not manage this process it may create persistence of tensions and instability and a leadership that remains questionable. It is important for the national leadership to get involved and to try and resolve this issue. I believe it is important for the leadership to bring all of the different leadership together, those who were part of the contest in court, they need to come together and we must establish what are the real issues that brought us to where we are and how do we get to a point where we resolve all of this,” Mkhize said.
“The ANC cannot be governed by courts through courts. The ANC has to govern itself as a voluntary organisation of its members who subscribe to the constitution polices and prescripts of the ANC.”
Mkhize took on the reconciliatory tone that has characterised his many addresses in recent months. Last week he officially made his presidential ambitions known, saying he was available for the top job.
“We spent our lives in this organisation; we cannot allow all of the years of our sacrifice and labour to go down, simply because there is someone who has got whatever interests. We will fight for it. We will ensure that this organisation is united. We will make sure that this organisation is bought back to its values. We will make sure it lives up to the expectations of the South African republic,” Mkhize told the group.
The treasurer-general will battle it out for the top job against frontrunners deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, and former African Union chairperson and three-time minister in Cabinet Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Initially Mkhize was touted for the position of deputy president on the Ramaphosa slate but fell off in favour of Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in response to the call for a woman to occupy a seat in the presidency.
After lamenting the recent spate of political killings Mkhize called for calm and for all parties to refrain from doing anything that might set off a chain reaction in the fragile province.
“Let us appeal to everyone not to do anything that will exacerbate tensions in the province; let us not do anything that is going to allow unscrupulous elements to take advantage.”