Battle for eThekwini: 'Comrade will turn on comrade'

eThekwini mayor, James Nxumalo, and the party’s regional treasurer, Zandile Gumede, are both vying for the top post of ANC regional chairperson. (durban.gov.za)

eThekwini mayor, James Nxumalo, and the party’s regional treasurer, Zandile Gumede, are both vying for the top post of ANC regional chairperson. (durban.gov.za)

The ANC’s strongest region is seeing a fiercely contested race as eThekwini mayor, James Nxumalo, and the party’s regional treasurer, Zandile Gumede, try to claim the top post.   

In effect, the regional chairperson would be in the powerful position of kingmaker in the run up to the party’s national general council and, later, the 2017 elective conference.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said this conference has all the signs of “comrade turning on comrade”.   

“It is about positions and power. It has a bigger budget than the ANC in the province. So money plays an important role,” he said.   

Whoever emerges as the regional leader will have the final say over the municipality budget – which will be in excess of R33.7-billion. Madlala says that brother will turn on brother when it comes to the big prize of leading the region.

“It can be very vicious. It is sad. Yes, it is in the name of democracy. But contestation can be very divisive,” Madlala said.   

He said the person who takes over could dictate succession in the ANC.

The biggest ANC region
This region has 102 ANC branches, making it the biggest ANC region.   

“eThekwini influences a lot. When it came to Zuma becoming president of the ANC, it was a battle fought from Durban. They have that kind of influence,” Madlala said.   

Those backing Nxumalo as chair believe that would eliminate the idea of “two centres of power in the region”, with the incumbent mayor leading the region.   

Others believe he does not have the commanding influence expected of a regional chairperson.   

Madlala said the biggest test for the ANC in eThekwini will be for all members to accept the outcome of the election, regardless of who wins. “The first challenge is to support the elected leader. To be behind him completely. That is how they will still be relevant.”

Incumbent regional secretary, Bhekithemba Ntshangase, said all is set for the conference to take place this Friday at Durban’s ICC.

“Yes, we are all set to go,” he said. 

 

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