/ 23 February 2018

KwaZulu-Natal ANC at peace – for now

Mike Mabuyakhulu is on the slate that backed Cyril Ramaphosa to become ANC president.
Mike Mabuyakhulu (right) said this week, although the local government selection processes had sparked killings, 'we have never seen anybody being killed' in general elections (Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk42)

The brewing insurrection in KwaZulu-Natal against the decision to recall former president Jacob Zuma has been quelled.

At the weekend, branches from the eThekwini region, the largest in the country, gave a tough time to members of the national executive committee (NEC) who were briefing them on the recall, slamming the manner in which it was handled.

eThekwini branch chairpersons and secretaries went as far as suggesting that Zuma contest the upcoming provincial conference as chairperson, and resistance also took place in KwaDukuza and Musa Dladla, Zuma’s home region.

Musa Dladla chairperson Toli Gwala said this week that, although the region supported the recall, it challenged the manner in which it had been carried out.

“Our branches did raise some concerns about the manner in which the transition in the organisation was handled, as well as divisive articulations by some few NEC members, which are contrary to the unity we are advocating to achieve as the ANC at all levels,” she said.

Gwala said Zuma would be used to campaign for the ANC in the provincial election.

Mike Mabuyakhulu, convener of the provincial interim committee appointed to oversee conference preparations, said that, with only one region — the Far North — out of 11 not briefed, they were confident the issue had been settled with the membership.

Mabuyakhulu said the reception in the eMalahleni region, which he and NEC member and State Security Minister Bongani Bongo addressed, had been good.

“People welcomed the decision. There were a few comrades who had a view that they should have been consulted ahead of the decision. We were able to explain that the decision was not taken lightly; that the NEC had undertaken a very thorough process,” he said.

“They understood the reasons. A lot has happened. The ANC is going to be contesting an election in 15 to 16 months. The ANC needed to be able to cement the prevailing mood in the country post-Nasrec and the January 8 statement. It had come to the situation where the decision had to be taken in the best interests of the ANC and of the country,” Mabuyakhulu said.

He and former chairperson Sihle Zikalala were appointed to head the interim leadership responsible for the rerun of the 2015 provincial conference. The high court in Pietermaritzburg set aside the result of the conference after a challenge by Vryheid ANC councillor Lawrence Dube and other ANC members loyal to former chairperson Senzo Mchunu.

Mabuyakhulu said the interim leadership had not yet discussed a reception for Zuma, which had been mooted by his supporters in the regions.

Last week Zikalala said the province would hold reception rallies for Zuma but nothing further has been heard about the proposal. Members of the Nxamalala community, where Zuma comes from, have indicated their desire to welcome him home.

Mabuyakhulu said that, should there be a decision to hold a reception, this should involve the ANC’s national leadership, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, as a way to cement unity in the party.

Mabuyakhulu said, although the road map they had put together for holding the conference within the three-month deadline was tight, they were making progress.

An eThekwini branch chairperson, who cannot be named because he is not allowed to talk to the media, said the region’s branches were still not happy.

“This decision is a problem to us. There was no need to recall president Zuma. This is going to create more issues at the end of Ramaphosa’s term. That is for sure,” he said.