/ 22 September 2017

KZN braces for another ANC standoff

Upheaval: The ANC’s eThekwini region held an elective conference in 2015 under the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee
Upheaval: The ANC’s eThekwini region held an elective conference in 2015 under the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee

Both sides of the ANC divide in KwaZulu-Natal appear to have stood down ahead of Friday’s special national executive committee (NEC) meeting, called to discuss last week’s high court ruling declaring the provincial executive committee (PEC) unlawful.

Although the factions — one supporting former chairperson Senzo Mchunu, the other backing current chairperson Sihle Zikalala — had been on the offensive following the court ruling, both are now awaiting the outcome of the meeting before making their next move.

Vryheid ANC councillor Lawrence Dube — a Mchunu supporter and the first applicant in the court bid to have the result of the November 2015 provincial conference set aside — said they had held back on any move to approach the court for an order to enforce the judgment until after Friday’s meeting.

“Right now we are not going to do anything until the NEC meeting,” said Dube. “We respect the NEC. We want to give the NEC space to do what it was supposed to do a long time ago. We are hoping that they will intervene and act on the judgment and implement what it announced.’’

Dube said action was needed to prevent a repeat of the incident at the weekend at Ladysmith in the ANC’s Ukhahlamba region, where six people were reportedly injured during a failed attempt to hold a regional general council meeting — trying to push ahead with the process towards a regional conference as though the judgment had not happened.

“The incident at Ladysmith was unfortunate and uncalled for. People on the ground understand the meaning of the judgment. I don’t know what they were trying to achieve,” Dube said. “The court has ruled that there is no PEC.’’

The 261 branches that met in Durban last Sunday, to hear a report-back from Dube, mandated the Mchunu faction to assemble a 15-member delegation to meet the NEC. Mchunu’s supporters are understood to want the NEC to put together a provincial task team drawn from both factions to ensure a fair process ahead of the December conference.

“We need a balanced provincial task team, made up of members from both sides, to oversee the process between now and December,’’ said one of the participants in the meeting, who asked not to be named.

“The NEC needs to ensure that it appoints the task team in a fair way, otherwise we will have the same problem all over again.’’

ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma, part of Zikalala’s faction, said they made representations to the ANC officials last Friday at a meeting in Luthuli House. “We have met with the national officials as the provincial working committee. We clarified our position and requested their guidance. The special NEC will discuss the issue,” he said. “We will abide by their decision.”

“We made it clear to the national officials that we took the decision to appeal against the judgment as we are concerned about the implications that it has for the ANC, not just here in KwaZulu-Natal, but for the entire ANC,” Zuma added.

He said, should the NEC order a fresh conference, “Either way, we are ready. If they say go ahead with the appeal, that’s fine. If they say re-run the conference, that’s fine. We are ready for whatever.’’

They had also met the provincial ANC Youth League, he said, to discuss their threats to defy the NEC, after which the threat was withdrawn in a statement by provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo on Tuesday.

The Zikalala faction is understood to have discussed a fallback position with the regions and its leagues — that they accept a rerun under the leadership of a task team.

They believe that they have enough support in the branches to win a rerun. Only one region could face a re-run: eThekwini — the only region to have held an elective conference under the unlawful PEC’s direction.

Zikalala’s backers on the NEC will argue that eThekwini should be left alone as the judgment dealt with the provincial conference and not with the actions of the Zikalala-led PEC.

Zuma confirmed the Ukhahlamba regional conference, scheduled to start on Friday, had been postponed.

“We were busy with the court issue and its consequences last week and could not allocate time to deal with the appeals coming from branches in the region,” he said. “We have engaged the region to say hold on and don’t rush so we give space to the organisation to deal with the issues.”