African National Congress (ANC) treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize says the governing party is going through a difficult time.
Speaking to EWN in a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday, Mkhize – who’s been touted by some within ANC circles to potentially contest the position of president or deputy president at the ANC’s national elective conference later this year in December – said the timing was not right.
He refused to comment on whether President Jacob Zuma was fit to lead Africa’s oldest liberation movement and the country amid calls for him to step down after his Cabinet reshuffle last month.
“I think that we are going through a difficult time, and when we are going through a difficult time it’s easy to lay the blame everywhere. But I think where we sit, I think that we have to move on,” said Mkhize.
Following Zuma’s Cabinet midnight reshuffle that saw Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas axed from National Treasury, Mkhize along with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe publicly expressed their reservations about the changes, saying Zuma had failed to consult the party’s leaders before reshuffling the Cabinet but merely presented a list of new ministers to them.
But they later backtracked on their stance and instead appeared to accept Zuma’s reason for firing the pair after he cited an “irretrievable breakdown” in his working relationship with Gordhan during the ANC’s national working committee earlier this month.
Mkhize said the divisions within the ANC were “showing significantly” as it prepared for its leadership elective conference, which is currently dominated by former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa as the frontrunners to succeed Zuma as the party’s next leader.
“The ANC was divided going into Polokwane [2007 elective conference]; I think this time around though the divisions are also showing significantly and I think these are the matters the party needs to look into and address.
“I think it [the Cabinet reshuffle] has come at an environment which was already full of controversy, so whatever would have happened made the situation a lot more tricky to manage … I would say its [the Cabinet reshuffle] come at a difficult time … the environment is a very difficult environment,” he said.