Axed KwaZulu-Natal economic development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu has emerged as the favourite of the anti-Jacob Zuma faction in the province to take over as provincial chairperson of the ANC.
The position was left vacant after the Sihle Zikalala-led provincial executive committee (PEC) was declared invalid by the high court in Pietermaritzburg on the eve of the ANC’s elective conference in December last year.
Zikalala, who supported ANC MP Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s unsuccessful bid to be elected ANC president, will contest the position. On Monday, the ANC’s top six officials officially dissolved the KwaZulu-Natal PEC, chaired by Zikalala.
In December, Zikalala and his PEC colleagues were only allowed to attend the national conference as branch delegates. They have appealed the judgment, and a second order enforcing it, but have been told to vacate the office.
With the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting, which started in Pretoria on Thursday, due to ratify the officials’ decision and appoint a provincial task team to oversee the rerun of the conference, both the Zikalala-led faction and the supporters of ousted chairperson Senzo Mchunu are drawing up leadership slates. Mchunu and his faction backed Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma. The task team is likely to be made up of leaders from both factions.
Mabuyakhulu, who also served as co-operative governance MEC and ANC provincial treasurer, is likely to head the slate that backed Ramaphosa.
Peggy Nkonyeni, the former education MEC who was fired along with Mabuyakhulu in the purge by the Zikalala-faction after the November 2015 provincial conference, is likely to stand as his deputy.
The Zikalala faction will field current premier and ANC deputy chairperson Willies Mchunu for the post. But he is in poor health and there is a lobby in the Zikalala camp to replace him with a younger leader, with education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane being mentioned.
Suspended lower South Coast regional chairperson Mzwandile Mkhwanazi is the most likely candidate for secretary on the Ramaphosa-supporting ticket and stands against incumbent Super Zuma. Both camps appear to want the current deputy secretary, Mluleki Ndobe, to continue in the post and both are understood to be talking to him.
South African Communist Party provincial chairperson and former eThekwini ANC chairperson James Nxumalo appears to be the frontrunner for treasurer on the Ramaphosa slate, while the Zikalala faction wants to field the incumbent, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, to remain.
Vryheid ANC councillor Lawrence Dube, the first applicant in the court bid to oust Zikalala, said he had been informed that Super Zuma and other PEC members had moved out of Pixley ka Seme House, the ANC provincial office, on Tuesday afternoon.
“Finally they have packed their bags and left the office,” said Dube, who has also been touted as an additional PEC member on the Mabuyakhulu-led slate.
“The [ANC] top six has told them they are unlawful. They now need to accept that they are just ordinary ANC members. We are expecting that the NEC will ratify the decision and appoint a provincial task team to oversee the rerun of the provincial conference,” he said.
Dube said he expected the NEC to appoint the provincial task team from both factions to oversee both conference preparations and the running of the ANC in the province in the interim.
“We aren’t too concerned about names. The NEC will ensure that sober people are appointed,” he said.
But former ANC provincial executive committee spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said there was a concerted campaign to influence the NEC decision and that they were still in office.
“A structure of the ANC only gets dissolved by a higher structure of the ANC. The higher structure is the NEC, which has not yet met. This is a bid to influence the meeting. We are still in office.”
Meanwhile, the action in the South Gauteng High Court by some of the 68 ANC branch delegates whose votes were not counted in the top six election at the party’s elective conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg last month is likely to continue and could still result in Senzo Mchunu becoming party secretary general. The conference steering committee allowed the votes of only 15 of the delegates to be counted, with Ace Magashule winning the post. But a group of branches served the conference with notice of their intention to go to court about the matter.
Dexter Selepe, the lawyer for the affected branches in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, said they had instructions from their clients to proceed with the matter.
“Key people were away, hence the delay. They are back [now] and we are consulting further this week,” Selepe said.