The political campaign of former health minister Zweli Mkhize to become ANC president took off formally on Wednesday, after Ethekwini, the ANC’s largest region in the country, endorsed him for the position.
It had long been expected that Mkhize would get the backing of the majority of ANC regions in Kwazulu-Natal, as he has been working that ground over the past year.
The province announced over the weekend that it would allow its branches and regions to show the way in nominations, and now eThekwini has launched what will be an epic battle for Mkhize against president Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been the favourite for the position so far.
The region also announced that it was backing party treasurer-general Paul Mashatile for deputy president, consolidating his position as a front-runner for the post.
Mashatile already has the backing of Gauteng and Limpopo for the position. He is facing off against Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, deputy president David Mabuza, and Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola for the post.
In a statement, eThekwini said it would engage with other regions to decide on the other four positions in the ANC top six.
The region said it wanted leaders who will ensure that the party remains an organisation that is in touch with the needs of the people and becomes a catalyst for socioeconomic development.
“We need leaders who will work hard to resuscitate the old culture that made no one alienated from the ANC for whatever reason.” The region said:
We want a president who will ensure that the ANC remains a home for all.
The nomination by eThekwini means Mkhize is gaining an advantage over Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is also targeting Kwazulu-Natal regions to kick-start her campaign.