Mkhize to remain KZN premier as contest for provincial chair hots up

ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize and President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo)

ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize and President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo)

Mkhize vacated his position as provincial chair this week following his election to the full-time position of ANC treasurer general in December last year.

His successor is expected to be elected today during the provincial general council, which is currently underway at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Westville campus.

Provincial education minister Senzo Mchunu and provincial transport and safety minister Willies Mchunu have both accepted nominations to replace Mkhize for the position of ANC provincial chair.

It is understood that attempts by senior ANC leaders to persuade both the Mchunus not to contest each other to avoid divisions in the party, failed.  

On Friday, President Jacob Zuma urged both supporters of Willies Mchunu and Zenso Mchunu to accept the results and work hard to maintain unity within the province.

Unlike other ANC provincial and regional conferences, there were no signs of tensions among ANC members in KwaZulu-Natal.

However, some political observers within and outside the ANC believe Mkhize was forced to vacate his top provincial position to what is seen as a lowly position of treasurer general to make way for other party leaders to control resources in the province.

Zikalala said Mkhize had previously taken other key responsibilities in the ANC such as chairperson of the subcommittee on health and education, while he was premier.

"There are many ANC chairmen who are not premiers. It is not given that when you chair, you will become premier. This is not a federal organisation. There is one centre of the organisation. The president [Zuma] is the face of the organisation.

"In the history of the ANC, we used to have list conferences, where we would elect candidates for premiers. The NEC never said [Mkhize] should resign. There has been no demonstration from the community that there is no premier in the province. He is always here.

"There is no complaining from our side. For us the issue does not arise. We know no faction in the ANC.  There is no factional groupings that campaigned for the two candidates," said Zikalala.

He rejected suggestions that senior ANC leaders attempted to persuade the Mchunus not to contest each other for the position of chair.

"Getting solution, what solution? If you [intervene] people would say you are trying to have an arrange leadership. When you contest, there are factions.

"We appreciate that in some areas, there are serious leadership contests. I have not seen t-shirts [bearing the face of the two candidates] here. I have not seen people singing [derogatory] songs. It is a normal and healthy contest.

"If we support democracy, we should support what is happening here. We did not try to intervene. We only met as the PEC to ensure there is a good environment at the PGC. No one tried to intervene. There has been no meeting of groupings. Those who contest must do so in a democratic way. When we close the PGC, there wont be factions. All of us will be on the ground campaigning for the national elections next year," said Zikalala.



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML


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