ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize has distanced himself from any presidential campaign based on gender, saying the focus should be on capacity irrespective of whether a candidate was a man or a woman.
Mkhize said this in an interview while on a visit to the Eastern Cape for a private meeting with all sub-regional treasurers on fund-raising plans leading up to next year’s local elections.
He said the ANC would elect a leader “on the basis that they are capable, not on the basis that they are male or female, and so the issue of being a female leader is not the main issue”.
African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is one of the candidates likely to contest for President Jacob Zuma’s position in 2017. Zuma has already indicated that he would not stand for a third term as ANC president.
Mkhize said: “The main issue is to say that among the leaders we’ve got, we have many capable male and female leaders. I will not be surprised if anyone is elected.”
Mkhize was elected to high office in the ANC in 2012. Since then the party has been faced with several challenges, including the expulsion of Julius Malema, who promptly formed the Economic Freedom Fighters.
The EFF secured more than a million votes in Gauteng alone in last year’s general elections.
Mkhize said Malema had to be expelled from the ANC because he was giving the party unnecessary attention in the media.
“The media today is not able to say the ANC was being criticised because of the misconduct of Julius Malema,” Mkhize said.
“When people are in the ANC and do wrong things, everybody focuses on that.
“When they go and join opposition benches, they ignore the inappropriate conduct and irregularities that people are involved in and focus on the ANC.”
However, Mkhize said the ANC was more concerned that its youth structures on campuses were unable to play a central role in the recent student protests.
“Our concern is that the ANCYL, Sasco and the YCL [Young Communist League] must take charge of these institutions.
“They must focus on the youth issues and . . . the youth will understand that they are a very relevant leadership.
“So we need to work very hard to take charge of this.”
Mkhize said expectations were not going to become any less. If the government provided free education, “people would then protest about youth unemployment”.