ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, who has been touted as the compromise “third way” candidate in the party’s presidential race, is in reality Jacob Zuma’s secret weapon in the fight to prevent the leadership being grabbed by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC insiders say.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) may be dropped at the last minute to make way for Mkhize in a strategy by the Zuma camp to prevent Ramaphosa from becoming the next president as per party tradition, they believe.
Ramaphosa’s followers are preparing a counter-attack for the ANC’s December electoral conference, bracing for a showdown with Mkhize.
Gauteng grassroots leaders have voiced opposition to the unity approach. Like other pro-Ramaphosa provinces, such as the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, Gauteng is against the unity approach hatched recently by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza and his “premier league” comrades.
Gauteng branches said this week they remained steadfast behind Ramaphosa despite party provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile wobbling towards the unity approach.
“We will push for a president who has the credibility to bring the ANC back to where it belongs, who is pro-poor and able to direct the ANC back to the basics. Cyril Ramaphosa is able do that,” a senior Gauteng member said.
The source said Mkhize was being prepared to take over from Zuma with his approval and an announcement would be made at the last minute and all other pro-Zuma candidates would withdraw from the race.
“NDZ was not JZ’s prime choice for the position although he would have liked it that way – but he well knows she has no chance against Cyril. He is not even campaigning for her because Zweli [Mkhize] is their compromise ticket. That is Zuma’s strategy,” the source said.
“The redeployment of Mkhize from KwaZulu-Natal was deliberate. It was planned that he should succeed Zuma. Call it a Zulu-Nostra if you like, but all the Zuma-supporting provinces will fall into the unity idea towards the December conference,” he said.
Recently, Mpumalanga, the Free State, and KwaZulu-Natal and an unmandated group from Gauteng explored Mabuza’s unity option. The pro-unity group maintains the race between Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma is divisive and a neutral candidate must be introduced.
The coalition of the wounded, as some call the unity group, are bonded by their common aim to secure positions in the ANC top six for themselves.
Gauteng provincial leadership got a fresh mandate this week to engage different provinces to find common ground to support Ramaphosa. The source said while Gauteng was for Ramaphosa and would lobby others to support him, they were open to persuasion by other provinces. – firstname.lastname@example.org