Senzo Mchunu recall could leave KZN ANC-led alliance in tatters

The ANC’s alliance partners have rejected the party’s decision to recall KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu, saying that they were not consulted on the matter. They warned that the move was likely to sow divisions within the alliance ahead of the local government elections on August 3.

South African Communist Party provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal Themba Mthembu said the alliance partner did not recognise the decision by the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) to recall Mchunu – adding that the party’s national executive committee (NEC) was the only suitable structure to do so.

“We do recognise that the deployment of the premiers is the prerogative of [President Jacob Zuma], who receives advice from the NEC. 

“We are awaiting a pronouncement from the president and the NEC on the matter of the premier. Those are the structures whose decision we will recognise,” said Mthembu. 

Mchunu resigned on Monday afternoon on the instruction of the NWC and has been replaced by ANC deputy provincial chairperson and transport MEC Willies Mchunu. Willies Mchunu is a close ally of the president, as well as KZN ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala.

Since having been ousted as ANC chairperson by Zikalala during last year’s provincial congress, Senzo Mchunu has been under pressure from his political rivals in the ANC to step down and make way for Zikalala or Willies Mchunu. 

Senzo Mchunu has been linked to an ANC faction which wants ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma as president, while Zikalala is aligned with a faction which supports African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s succession to the presidency. 

The NWC issued the instruction for Senzo Mchunu to step down after the former premier ignored an ANC provincial executive committee decision to remove him from the position.

He was forced to leave office despite strong objections from Cosatu and the SACP, who have warned the party that the decision to recall him would cause confusion among its affiliates. 

Mthembu claimed that Mchunu’s recall was part of a move to destabilise the province, which is being driven through the systematic purging of rival factions. 

“We strongly believe, in spite of many denials, there is a massive purge happening in KZN. Whoever denies that is undermining the intelligence of the people. 

“All we can say is that we are going to pay the price for destabilising KZN, in as much as we paid the price during the recalling of (former finance minister) Nhlanhla Nene,” he added.

Shortly after the reshuffle, ANC KZN secretary Super Zuma told journalists that the provincial leg of the party had “received, considered and accepted” Mchunu’s resignation. He also revealed that the former premier would be deployed to the National Assembly. 

In response to criticism over the decision, ANC KZN spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said that the party was ready to deal with any form of revolt that came as a result of the decision to recall Senzo Mchunu.

“We’ll deal with it as it arises. We appreciate the potential consequences, which could be similar to what happened after the provincial congress.”

His comment was in reference to an incident that took place at last year’s conference, where Mchunu’s supporters marched to the ANC offices in KZN to demand a rerun of the conference that elected Zikalala as chairperson.

Ntuli also suggested that the ANC members who had complained about irregularities at the conference have since moved on and accepted the new PEC under Zikalala’s leadership.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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