Mkhize: Candidacy withdrawal was best to unify party

Zweli Mkhize says he withdrew his candidacy for ANC deputy president in the interests of unity.

Zweli Mkhize takes to the podium as he declines the nomation for deputy president at the ANC's national conference on 17 December 2017. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - It's a two-horse race for the presidency of the ANC, one that analysts say is too close to call.

Cyril Ramaphosa faces off with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the position of president.

Lindiwe Sisulu and David Mabuza are contesting for deputy president.

Zweli Mkhize was also in that race, but in a surprise move, he withdrew his candidacy on Sunday in the interests of unity.

Mkhize says his decision to withdraw from the leadership race followed conversations between provincial and national leaders about how best to unify the party.

“I’ve been involved with discussing with a number of leaders of provinces and national level and saying ‘what can we do to try and build unity and unite the ANC’. It should not be about who emerges; it should be about what is the best deal for the ANC.”

Mkhize says in his view, unity is about emerging from this conference with a stronger ANC.

Mkhize is still in the running for a position on the national executive committee.

He says the party has not discussed whether Jacob Zuma should step down as president of the country once new leadership is elected.

He says his decision followed discussions with national and provincial ANC leaders about how best to unify the party.

When asked if the party had discussed whether Zuma should resign, Mkhize had this to say: “We took that discussion in the past. When it arises, I think the ANC must deal with it at that point. At the moment that issue hasn’t arisen.”

Mkhize says having two centres of power is a function of the timing of ANC conferences and general elections.

Read the ANC's organisational report released at its 54th national conference on 18 December 2017

ANC 54th Conf Organisational Report by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd