African National Congress (ANC) treasurer general Zweli Mkhize says it will do the ANC no good to go into its 54th national elective conference in December divided. Mkhize said those hoping to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC president needed to communicate a message of unity ahead of the event.
Mkhize, who was on News24's Frontline on Tuesday, discussed a number of issues including the process of nominations of presidential candidates by members in ANC branch general meetings (BGMs), the hopes pinned on the looming elective conference, and Zuma, among many other issues.
He is one of seven ANC officials vying for the position of president in the party when Zuma steps down in just 4 weeks.
Mkhize's name has not dominated BGMs as much as those of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but this doesn't seem to have dented his confidence in his "unity" campaign.
"The branches are going through nominations. We've opened ourselves up for nominations and must accept the nominations announced. We have to accept those nominations."
He added that the results being reported on in the media did not matter as many branches and structures were still engaging each other over the leadership race and there was still an opportunity for nominations to continue once the conference kicks off.
"Ultimately they (branches) are going to guide who will be nominated right up until the conference where they nominate people on the floor," said Mkhize.
'I am prepared to lead'
He also told News24 that the presidential hopefuls were talking to one another.
"I know some kinds of discussions are going on in one way or another. I can't speak for anybody but that's the only way that is going to help the organisation."
Mkhize said at some point leaders needed to declare whether they were prepared to lead or to be led.
"I am prepared to lead, to lead everyone, even those who contested against me. I am prepared to lead if I am elected as part of a collective, lead with others, even if we have disagreements, because we are part of the same organisation. I am prepared to be led by whomever will emerge; if you win and are the leader, we will follow you and support you. If you don't emerge you must be prepared to follow and support the one who emerges," he said explaining the different scenarios that some of the hopefuls would have to deal with in December.
"It's not necessary for an organisation like the ANC to be defined by divisions and infighting," said Mkhize.
He said while unity needed to be the defining phrase within the ANC, the party needed to be critical of wrongdoing and work for the benefit of South Africans at large.