The African National Congress (ANC) will discipline errant individuals and organisations if they do not adhere to the internal process governing the leadership transition, says Zweli Mkhize, the party's treasurer.
This comes after the ANC Women's League's statement this weekend that it would be nominating and campaigning for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed President Jacob Zuma. There were some flutterings at the ANC's January 8 event on Sunday, as Mkhize and Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general, tried to preach unity and non-factionalism. This was however not helped by the ANCWL's announcement, which was contrary to the ANC national executive committee's (NEC) decision not to personalise the succession process.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has already signalled his willingness to succeed Zuma.
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"People need to stick to the process, which has been laid down by the NEC.
"Firstly, this includes a debate about what the challenges are the country and the organisation faces. We then need to look at the best leadership who is able to steer the organisation and country through that.
"Secondly, we need to look at the characteristics of the individual leaders and look at people who have the best to offer in terms of the values of integrity, leadership experience ... people who are able to unite the ANC," Mkhize said on Sunday.
He added the party was trying its level best to "marshal" its members to stick to this framework but conceded that there would always be those, such as the ANCWL, who would be "off-side".
"It's not time for that yet. We will open it up [for discussion around personalities] eventually ... at the moment we are discussing the principles [of leadership] because we believe that discussion will be more unifying, discussing names can be divisive, so we are asking leaders to desist from causing division, factions and so, and we will discipline them if they don't," he added.
Mkhize said he doesn't agree with the argument that the so-called leadership race should be thrown open so that campaigning can take place, unfettered and in public. "We will be talking about personalities. But we need establish the principles and framework within which we discuss this and compare candidates. Without that in place, it will be problematic."
The NEC said in the January 8 Statement discussions about the "principles that qualify comrades for leadership" will have to be finalised before specific candidates can be discussed. These discussions use an ANC leadership document, Through the Eye of the Needle, as basis.
These are the three characteristics the next ANC leader should have, according to Zweli Mkhize:
1. Commitment to unity: "The candidate must be able to unify the ANC."
2. Integrity in leadership: "The candidate must have experience in leadership."
3. Focus on selfless service: "The candidate must serve the people."