Corruption-charged former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede accepted nomination as the ANC eThekwini regional chairperson after voting — delayed by a day-long battle over participation in the election — finally got underway.
A deadlock over the proposed participation of the regional task team — which had run the ANC in the city since 2019 — was finally broken on Sunday afternoon, allowing the conference to go ahead.
Early morning discussions between the conference steering team, the provincial leadership and members of the national executive committee finally shifted the position of delegates from the camp of eThekwini speaker Thabani Nyawose, who had resisted the task team’s participation in the voting.
Eventually, the team’s members were excluded from voting, while delegates from the ward 20 branch, which had been disqualified, were allowed to participate, although their votes would be counted separately.
Nyawose accepted nomination to stand against Gumede, who did not attend the conference as she is out on bail for corruption and is not allowed to participate in ANC activities because of the party’s step-aside rule.
Gumede is standing on a continuation and unity ticket backed by the radical economic transformation grouping, while Nyawose is backed by the renewal, rebuilding unity faction, which favours a second term for ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Gumede is the latest ANC leader to contest a position despite being impacted by the step-aside rule.
Mpumalanga provincial treasurer Mandla Msibi — out on bail for murder — was elected last weekend in absentia, but has since been ordered by Luthuli House not to occupy office or attend any ANC activities.
The same is expected to apply to Gumede should she be successful in her bid for re-election at the tense conference, which has been dogged by delays in registration and battles over allowable delegate numbers.
Gumede’s running mates — deputy chairperson Thembo Ntuli, secretary Musa Nciki, deputy secretary Nkosenhle Madlala and treasurer Nomthandazo Shabalala — all accepted nomination.
Shabalala — a co-accused in Gumede’s Durban Solid Waste corruption matter — also accepted nomination in absentia.
Regional task team convener Bheki Ntuli will stand as secretary on the Nyawose slate along with Mthunzi Dlamini (deputy chair), Thanduxolo Sabelo (deputy secretary) and Nontokozo Sibiya (treasurer).
A total of 370 delegates from 90 of the region’s 111 branches (with ward 20 included) were eligible to vote in the election, a second part of which will elect the rest of the eThekwini regional executive committee.
The region is one of the ANC’s most influential and largest, but is also highly contested between the two ANC factions. Its leadership was dissolved in 2019 over the collapse of services in the eThekwini municipality and it was replaced with the regional task team, made up of members of both factions. Gumede was redeployed to the KwaZulu-Natal legislature as an ANC MPL.
The dispute over the regional task team had threatened to halt the conference and was only ended when delegates from the Nyawose grouping agreed that the team would not vote.
They had insisted on this after delegates from the task teams running the ANC’s women and youth leagues — the term of office of both had expired well ahead of the conference but who had threatened court action — were given voting status on Saturday.
The outcome of the top five election will be released on Sunday night, after which voting for the rest of the regional executive committee will follow.