Infighting in the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) is set to end up in the high court after the body’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership rejected the suspension of its secretary, Richard Mkhungo, by its national leadership.
Mkhungo, a close ally of Sanco treasurer Roy Moodley, wants to stand as its secretary general but was suspended by the sitting secretary general, Skhumbuzo Mpanza, earlier this month.
On Monday morning, Mkhungo called a media briefing in Durban at which he and Sanco provincial spokesperson Sanele Mbambo, slammed the suspension, saying it violated the Sanco constitution.
The pair accused Mpanza of corruption and of not being a Sanco member in good standing, saying they would go to court if necessary to challenge his actions.
Mkhungo said he would not vacate the Sanco office and that the province was “building a case” against Mpanza, whom he accused of abusing his powers to carry out the suspension.
“I am not suspended,” Mkhungo said. “There is no way we will allow the situation where we will vacate this office. The only structure that can suspend the provincial secretary is the provincial executive committee,” Mkhungo added.
Mkhungo said the province wanted an urgent national executive committee (NEC) meeting to be held, after which Sanco needed to hold its national conference.
If the conference was not convened, Mkhungo said, Sanco in KwaZulu-Natal would seek the support of other provinces to hold its own national meeting at which a leadership would be elected to run Sanco until conference was held.
He said that in terms of the Sanco constitution, any five provinces could call a national meeting and elect a caretaker leadership.
In the run up to the ANC’s national elective conference in December 2017, KZN Sanco was split between backers of successful presidential candidate Cyril Ramaphosa and his rival for the post, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Mkhungo’s faction backed Dlamini-Zuma. Mkhungo denied however, that the suspension was linked to the ANC succession battle.
Mpanza said that Mkhungo had access to internal Sanco processes to raise his concerns, but had instead chosen to “display ill-discipline” and go to the media.
“They are trying to get public sympathy. We are not going to play their game. Decisions have been taken by the national executive committee and the national office bearers and he is suspended,” Mpanza explained. “If he wants to go to court that is up to him.”
Mpanza said the last NEC on June 30 had given them a mandate to crack down on ill-discipline. He further added that Mkhungo and Moodley were “operating outside the structures and the mandates of the organisation”.
“They can do what they like but the decisions stand,” Mpanza said. He denied any financial wrongdoing.
“There is a forensic audit which is being conducted into all financial matters in line with the decision of the NEC,” he said.