Donwald Pressly: ANC Treasurer General, Zweli Mkhize, comes out against Zuma

Strong political contender and smart political mover, ANC Treasurer General, Zweli Mkhize, might be a ‘homeboy’ to Msholozi, but he’s not sweeping up after the chief, that’s for sure. Adding his influential voice to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s warnings on corruption, state capture and potentially fatal party divisions, Mkhize, has pinned his colours firmly to the mast as the leadership succession race begins in earnest. Viewed dispassionately and objectively in political terms, he’d be mad not to make a move now. Staying silent would infer collusion in the rampant ravaging of the State which must inevitably implode on itself. Speaking out is the savvy way to survive. He’s even taken a crack at the Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini for that dysfunctional welfare payment tender saga which the courts had to rescue at the last minute. Time will tell whether he’s going to adopt an ambitious, high-risk strategy and throw his hat into the leadership contest ring or back Cyril Ramaphosa, the latter probably being the safer bet. – Chris Bateman.

By Donwald Pressly*

COMMENT: African National Congress treasurer general Zweli Mkhize has come out strongly against state capture, poor government administration and has described any decision by the ANC’s alliance partner, the SA Communist Party, to go it alone as an imminent electoral disaster for the ruling party in the 2019 election. Mkhize, who may be an heir apparent to President Jacob Zuma, was speaking at a May Day rally in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. Cape Messenger reports the highlights of a meeting reported by SAfm.

President Jacob Zuma with ANC Treasurer General Dr Zweli Mkhize and outgoing President of BBC Ndaba Ntsele sharing a light moment at the Black Business Council Baobab Awards Gala Dinner, 27 Sep 2016.

The gloves have come off in the clash between President Jacob Zuma’s ruling faction in the African National Congress and the group coalescing against it. The latest to publicly express outrage at the state of the ANC and its dalliance with state capture, corruption and factionalism, is ANC treasurer general and former KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize.

Watching the state-driven media is often an important way of finding out trends in the ruling party. Significantly SAfm, part of the state broadcaster the South African Broadcasting Corporation, reported some significant things from a May Day meeting addressed by Mkhize on Monday.

Nkululeko Nyembezi, a SAfm reporter, said Mkhize had said that greed, class materialism (Nyembezi may have meant crass materialism) and factions now drive corruption in the party. Nyembezi reported Mkhize as saying that keeping the tri-partite alliance – the ANC, Cosatu and the SACP – together was of the utmost importance.

Delivering the Chris Hani memorial lecture in Lusikisiki, he was reported as saying that the concern of South Africans about the development of the body politic, the economy and the debate on state capture could not be denied.

Reporting that Mkhize received a warm welcome, Myembezi reported him as saying that the late Chris Hani – the SACP leader who was assassinated in 1993 – would have been upset about the state of the country and the ANC. “The alliance … must sit down and talk to each other… it is not the time to dismantle and destroy the alliance. The destruction of the alliance …is the game of no winners.”

Referring to the SACP considering withdrawing from the alliance – and fighting elections under its own banner in the national elections of 2019 –  Mkhize said: “The outcome would be disastrous to the extreme.” It would be more devastatating that all the previous splits from the ANC “put together”, said Mkhize.

The ANC effectively split in 2008/09 when the Congress of the People was formed and overnight became the  third biggest party in the 2009 national election. However it lost the bulk of its support in the 2014 national election. The formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters – also a split from the ANC – saw it gain 25 seats in the national assembly in 2014 and the EFF provided its support in Johannesburg and Tshwane metropoles to put the opposition DA in power in those cities.

Mkhize said that factionalism was like a cancer. “Greed, crass materialism and factionalism now drive corruption in the party and in the state and is hurting the image of the ANC. This now is a cancer that affects our structures at different levels, different leagues and alliance partners.”

He said there was an intolerance of different views “and labelling”. He said simply: “This must stop.”

Poor planning, the impunity of corruption. “Radical transformation is meaningless unless government gets tough on corruption. Poor planning, delays in taking decisions, corruption and the culture of impunity would frustrate any transformation. South African needs a capable state, led by a capable ruling party led by capable leaders. This is what our (upcoming ANC policy) conference must deliver to all of us.”

The decisions of government reversed in court was also a bad sign about governance. “The image of the government is weakened in the eyes of the public every time the government loses cases in court and ministers are rebuked.”

He took a particular stab at Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini where he slammed the government having to appeal judgments against Sassa, which provides social welfare grants to millions of South Africans. In the case of Sassa where the government had appealed court decisions he said this led “to fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.

  • Donwald Pressly is the editor of Cape Messenger. 
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