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ANC factionalism tears at eThekwini in fight for top seat

KwaZulu-Natal premier and ANC provincial chairperson Senzo Mchunu says he is worried about members joining the party not to serve the organisation or the people, but to plunder state resources.

“Before 1994 people [joining the party] were motivated by different sets of things close to the values and traditions of the ANC; post-1994 some people are joining because of material [things], love for positions and basking in glory,” Mchunu told the M&G this week.

“We should use power to drive justice and welfare of the people, not to do corruption,” he said, commenting on the fierce ANC eThekwini leadership contest that has seen the regional conference postponed for the fourth time after clashes between supporters of Durban mayor James Nxumalo and the ANC’s former regional treasurer Zandile Gumede.

Whoever wins eThekwini’s top seat will not only control the ANC’s influential region, but will also influence the election of provincial leaders in September and national ANC leaders at the party’s elective conference in 2017.

Nxumalo and his supporters are said to back Mchunu for re-election as provincial chairperson whereas Gumede and her supporters apparently back ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala to replace Mchunu. The Gumede group wants transport MEC Willies Mchunu as Zikalala’s deputy and North Coast regional chairperson Thulani Mashaba as provincial secretary. At the national level in 2017 this camp wants ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize as ANC deputy president and Cyril Ramaphosa as president. Mchunu’s supporters are said to back ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe for deputy president.

“Gwede was close to Senzo [Mchunu], but he [Mchunu] was not happy with [Mantashe’s] … decision to nullify the results of the [March] eThekwini conference, especially after the concerns raised by ANC branches were openly discussed and resolved in that conference,” said a KwaZulu-Natal leader, who asked to remain anonymous.

The provincial leader believes Mantashe’s decision to nullify the election results weakened Mchunu.

Mchunu denied he was unhappy with Mantashe’s decision and that there was tension between him and Zikalala. He said he was not worried about any list of preferred provincial leaders that excludes him.

“It’s not time for nominations … No legitimate structure of the ANC would have produced that list. The majority of ANC members are disciplined … Some want us to nominate [leaders] throughout the year. We have to accept those,” said Mchunu.

Zikalala said he had not seen the list that proposes him as the next provincial chairperson. “[The list has] no basis. No one has the right to discuss provincial conference,” said Zikalala.

Asked whether he would accept nomination as provincial chair, he said that was “neither here nor there”. He said the ANC’s provincial leadership would decide the date for another eThekwini conference after meeting the ANC this weekend.

The ANC’s leaders concede that political factionalism affects eThekwini negatively but Mantashe didn’t want to admit anything publicly. 

“What must we be worried about? We must have hope. When you lose hope you are guided by fear and worry and then you can’t move forward,” Mantashe said.

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Matuma Letsoala
Guest Author

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