ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says the ANC did not regret its decision to relieve Senzo Mchunu of his duties as KwaZulu-Natal Premier, and insisted that the party followed proper processes in doing so.
Mchunu was given an ultimatum by his comrades within the ANC in KZN to resign by Monday this week or risk being forcefully removed from his position.
Addressing journalists on the eve of the ANC’s national list conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Mantashe poured cold water on criticism leveled by the ANC’s alliance partners – Cosatu and the South African Communist Party – which have described Mchunu’s recall as factional.
But Mantashe insisted that the party followed the right channels in its decision to recall Mchunu as KZN premier.
“The ANC controlled the stages [processes to recall Mchunu]… from the province, to the National Working Committee (NWC) [and] back to the province, and it was finalised. I don’t know what the unhappiness is all about,” said Mantashe.
Mchunu lost his position as ANC chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal to former provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala in December last year following the provincial elective conference. Since then, the now former premier has been under sustained pressure from his political rivals within the ANC to step down.
In reaction to Mchunu’s axing, some of his supporters within the province have threatened to contest the local government elections as independent candidates instead of supporting the governing party. Mchunu supporters last year marched to the party’s provincial office to voice their unhappiness over the provincial elective conference results, after he was unseated by Zikalala. Mchunu’s supporters claimed the ANC’s election results were rigged to favour Zikalala, but this was dismissed by the provincial leadership. Those who made the claims have since been charged for bringing the party into disrepute.
While some have said Mchunu’s removal was likely to affect the ANC negatively ahead of the local government elections, the provincial leadership remained adamant the decision would not have any negative impact on the party’s election campaign.
“From where we are sitting, there would never be a right time to do anything, we followed due process and it was the right time to redeploy comrade Mchunu, as someone who was deployed by the ANC in the first place,” said ANC provincial secretary, Super Zuma.
The ruling party’s alliance partners in the province have rejected Mchunu’s recall, saying there were no consultations before the decision was taken. Mchunu has since been replaced by former transport, community safety and liaison MEC, Willies Mchunu.