Zweli Mkhize: I didn't strike any deal with Dlamini-Zuma or Ramaphosa
Johannesburg – Outgoing ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize has denied making any deals with presidential candidates Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma after he shocked delegates when he declined his nomination for the number two position.
Speaking to News24 in its special broadcast of the ANC national elections, Mkhize refused to endorse any of the two candidates and stuck to his message of a united ANC.
"I didn't do a deal, I will not do a deal, I will not even endorse a slate. The approach we had taken is [for delegates] to look at the leaders and exercise [their] mind. It's not necessary to endorse," he told News24.
He noted that was unable to vote for any candidate vying for the top six position as he was working on his report to the conference.
Mkhize was nominated by the Eastern Cape for the position of deputy president. He had initially campaigned for the party's top job but failed to drum up support for the position, including in KwaZulu-Natal, his home province.
He explained that he decided to make the last-minute announcement on Sunday to decline after speaking to provincial leaders who had lobbied and canvassed for his campaign.
"I'd initially accepted the nomination and I really want to acknowledge all those who nominated me and supported me throughout this because we share a very important message of unifying the ANC," Mkhize said.
He said after engagement with his supporters, he decided against running for the position of ANC deputy president to "limit tensions" and to bring the party together.
"I didn't want to see the issue creating more tensions. It's not about one person, it's not about who wins, it's not about ultimately which faction. It's about what spirit we create which will help us. We all are going to play a role, but the ANC is more important than all of us."
'ANC not broke, not rich'
Mkhize, who rose to national politics during the Mangaung conference when he was appointed to his current position, said he would accept whoever emerges as the winner. He was largely seen as ANC outgoing president Jacob Zuma's protégé after he helped Zuma win against former president Thabo Mbeki at the Polokwane conference.
Mkhize said he was among those who had hoped that slates would not dominate the party's elective process.
"That is very sad because we had actually taken an approach earlier that said we would actually dilute the slates by breaking down nominations. I was of that view because I was at Polokwane. We don't have an option, we have to rebuild."
Mkhize said he had left the ANC in a good position financially. He thanked investors and donors for trusting in him and the party.
"The ANC is not broke, the ANC is not rich. The ANC just survives out of the goodwill of its members."