ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize. Picture: ANC MEDIA PIX
ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize. Picture: ANC MEDIA PIX

A "third way" has emerged in the ANC succession battle as the Alfred Nzo region in the Eastern Cape raised the name of treasurer general Zweli Mkhize as its pick for party president when the party elects a successor to President Jacob Zuma in December.

The region held its elective conference this week and emerged with a decision to lobby branches to support Mkhize when nominations open in September.

The Mkhize slate also includes ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and ANC Gauteng chairman Paul Mashatile.

Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and former African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were seen as the front-runners in the race, but Mkhize’s entry is set to split support for both candidates in the party’s largest provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

This will be felt more keenly in an already divided KwaZulu-Natal which now has three presidential hopefuls, hailing from that province. These are Dlamini-Zuma, ANC policy chief Jeff Radebe — whose campaign suffered a setback after reports of his involvement in a sex scandal — and Mkhize.

The Alfred Nzo region wants Mkhize as president, Mantashe as chairman and for Mashatile to be accommodated in the top leadership, its regional spokesman Onke Diko told the Business Day.

He said the conference, which wrapped up last Thursday, has mandated its newly elected leaders to lobby other regions and provinces on their selection of leaders. He confirmed that the ticket was a "third way" to unite the party and eradicate corruption.

Mkhize’s selection opens the race as he was seen as a dark horse in the elective battle and was also on the Ramaphosa slate as the future deputy president.

The discussions on a "third way" also includes ANC Mpumalanga chairman David Mabuza — previously aligned to the faction supporting Zuma and his choice for successor, Dlamini Zuma.

With the ANC’s policy conference done and dusted last week, its succession race is now wide opened. Speaker and chairwoman Baleka Mbete came out to declare her readiness for the position after the gathering.

The discussions between provincial chairmen include increasing the ANC’s top six structure to nine, which would include Mkhize but not necessarily in the position of president.

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