Sihle Zikalala resigns as KwaZulu-Natal premier, after losing the contest for provincial chair

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said on Friday he was resigning from the post, days after he reportedly told President Cyril Ramaphosa he planned to quit after losing the contest for ANC chairperson for the province.

In a news briefing broadcast live on television, Zikalala said he was stepping down in the interests of moving the ruling party forward and to avoid becoming a distraction.

“I’ve taken a position to resign the position of the premier of KwaZulu Natal province. I’ve taken this decision consciously and expeditiously so that there is no doubt about the strategic direction that the movement and the government should be taking going forward,” he said.

“It is my principled position that the ANC remains the strategic centre of power. We should provide uninterrupted strategic leadership in the movement, the society and government. As an individual member of the ANC, or as individual members of the ANC, we joined the organisation voluntarily and with no expectation of material benefit.

“In joining the ANC, we avail our skills and expertise as at the disposal of our movement.  It is my sincere conviction that revolutionaries should at no stage be an over-burden to the to the revolutionary movement,” he added

Ahead of Zikalala’s remarks, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal issued a statement saying it had accepted his resignation “with pain and difficulty as he was still doing a great job in the province”.

“We are grateful for the job he has done for the people of this province and we appreciate that he made a conscious decision not to leave office hastily. 

“Zikalala’s tenure has come with a lot of good in the province, including a number of  provincial government departments receiving unqualified audit outcomes for the first time. We thank Zikalala for his dedication to serve the people of KwaZulu-Natal as he was mandated by the ANC,” it added.

The party said a new premier would be sworn in once interviews had been concluded and Zikalala’s resignation had been confirmed by the provincial legislature. The provincial executive committee had communicated with ANC national officials “and were instructed to make recommendations of three names of comrades, who will undergo an interview process”.

The names of Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Amanda Bani and Mbali Frazer had been submitted for interviews on Saturday.

Zikalala’s resignation comes less than a week after the Mail & Guardian reported — during the ANC’s policy conference — that he had shared his plans to resign with Ramaphosa after losing the contest for ANC provincial chairperson to Siboniso Duma on 23 July and being voted off the KZN provincial executive committee.

One insider told the M&G Zikalala had initially planned to resign within the next two months however his decision was accelerated after rumours spread that an opposing faction in the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal would recall him.

Zikhalala has held his position as premier of the province since May 2019 .

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