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Zweli Mkhize lashes out at ANC ‘cabals’, decries abuse of state machinery to purge opponents


Zweli Mkhize lashes out at ANC ‘cabals’, decries abuse of state machinery to purge opponents
Zweli Mkhize has laid down the gauntlet in the ANC leadership race.

Zweli Mkhize has laid down the gauntlet in the ANC leadership race.

PHOTO: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius

  • ANC presidential hopeful Zweli Mkhize used a public address to take aim at party leaders who abuse political power.
  • He lashed out at the use of state machinery to purge political opponents.
  • Mkhize addressed the Victoria Mxenge memorial lecture in Durban on Wednesday. 

In a speech meant to declare that the race for the ANC presidency was on, presidential hopeful Zweli Mkhize lambasted those who “unashamedly” abuse political power through state machinery, and the rise of “cabals” in the party.

Mkhize delivered the Victoria Mxenge memorial lecture at Wiggins Hall in Durban on Wednesday evening. He aimed at President Cyril Ramaphosa and his allies in the ANC in a thinly veiled attack, accusing them of using state power to eliminate political opponents.

Mkhize said: 

We do see tendencies of those who might want to use their powers to actually put pressure on others (political opponents). They (those in power) then sometimes unashamedly start using their powers to eliminate political opponents, using the criminal justice system.

“We want to condemn this because it cannot be part of how we run the state and the party,” said a fiery Mkhize.

Mkhize is contesting the ANC presidency and is seeking nomination to go up against Ramaphosa at the ANC elective conference in December.

The former health minister, who resigned under a cloud of controversy, decried what he called an inconsistency in the application of the law.

“Corruption is a curse in the community. When the issue is arising, there must be one law. You cannot have two types of justice (systems),” he said to applause.

READ | Mkhize not ruled out as ANC KZN preferred candidate to contest Ramaphosa as NDZ enters the race

Mkhize’s comments come amid objections in the ANC to its step-aside policy, which calls on criminally charged leaders to step down pending the outcome of their cases.

Those opposed to the policy have decried the purported inconsistency in its application and have called for the scrapping of the rule.

Mkhize told the audience that the ANC could never genuinely fight corruption because people were not treated equally.

“When we make you a leader of the ANC, we are not making you an overlord,” Mkhize said.

Mkhize repeatedly lashed out at “cabals” in the ANC.

“If you have an organisation of factions and cabals, it can never create discipline in the party,” he said.

It creates a them versus us scenario. We need to get rid of factionalism and unite the ANC.

He was quick to state that while he believed the current administration was applying mechanisms for rooting out corruption in a biased manner, there was still an actual need for the party to renew itself and do away with its tainted image.

“It is important for us to say that corruption is an important issue to fight because it’s a curse to society. But when this issue arises, there must be one law.

“If we say for the purpose of ensuring that things are properly investigated, this is how we do things, then it must be standardised and not applied differently depending on who it affects,” said Mkhize.

He blatantly suggested that Ramaphosa’s “so-called good governance and anti-corruption programme” had been reduced to a cynical avenue through which he was purging potential political opponents.

“What the ANC has demonstrated in the past five years is a level of factionalism and disunity, and this is something that we have to deal with and fight against. We need to fight for the unity of the organisation, because it is out of that unity that the ANC can carry out its historic mission of creating a national democratic society where the lives of the people are so much better that the evidence of the apartheid past is obliterated,” said Mkhize.

He also bemoaned what he called the party’s move to the “right”. 

“The party has shifted towards being unapologetically right-wing, failing to implement Nasrec resolutions,” Mkhize said.

He suggested that it was the result of “weak political leadership or a deliberate attempt to eliminate the organisation from its core constituency”.

He cautioned that leaders were no longer working for the good of the party, but using the party to fulfil their desires.

“Leaders must remember that the real voice of the party is that of the structures and branches on the ground, and that’s whose desires will at the end of the day stand,” said Mkhize.

READ | ANC presidential race: Mkhize, Sisulu remain resolute amid Zuma’s call to endorse Dlamini-Zuma

Mkhize resigned as health minister for his role in the health department’s awarding of a R150-million communications contract to Digital Vibes – a company with which he is closely linked.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found that Mkhize failed in his general oversight responsibilities in respect of the affairs of the department and his obligations in terms of Section 63 of the Public Finance Management Act.

At the event in Durban on Wednesday night, Mkhize was endorsed by various regions, leagues, and alliance structures who were in attendance.

Simphiwe Blose, a member of the ANC’s eThekwini regional executive committee and a key supporter of Mkhize, again endorsed the former minister for ANC president, calling him by his clan name “Khabazela” and referring to him as the next president.

Blose said Mkhize inspired hope at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. He added that Mkhize could take over as ANC president and deal with the country’s triple challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment.

Mkhize’s address came days after confusion arose when former president Jacob Zuma punted Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as the radical economic transformation (RET) faction’s preferred candidate for ANC president.

Mkhize’s supporters believed he would get enough support to challenge Ramaphosa at the ANC’s December conference.

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