/ 10 May 2023

Ramaphosa, ANC’s working committee head to troubled KwaZulu-Natal

Anc 55 National Conference 9609
Sweating: President Cyril Ramaphosa's re-election as ANC president might not be certain. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to call for accountability from the ANC’s eThekwini regional leaders and provincial leaders when he and the ruling party’s national working committee (NWC) visit KwaZulu-Natal this weekend. 

Ramaphosa is meeting the regional leaders following the announcement of a section 154 intervention in the only metro in the province led by the ANC. Section 154 of the Constitution allows national and provincial governments to use legislative and other measures to support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs and perform their functions.

The problems in KwaZulu-Natal come as the ANC faces its toughest election yet in 2024, with its support in the province slipping away.

National executive members told the Mail & Guardian that the eThekwini region and its provincial leaders have fallen out with city manager Musa Mbhele. They said the regional leaders summoned Mbhele shortly before the municipality was placed under section 154, ordering him to step down from his position. 

Provincial leaders were lobbying national leaders to place the municipality under section 139 of the Constitution, which authorises the provincial executive to intervene in a municipality when it does not fulfil its executive obligation in terms of legislation.  This could be realised if the new administrator, Cassius Lubisi, a former director general in the presidency, fails in his intervention.

The party’s deputy secretary general Maropene Ramokgopa, who is also the minister charged with monitoring and evaluation, will meet eThekwini traditional, business and religious leaders on Friday, according to the ANC’s itinerary. 

On the same day, the ANC’s deputy president, Paul Mashatile, will have discussions with the same leaders in the northern KwaZulu-Natal Mzala Nxumalo region. 

Ramaphosa will arrive on Saturday in Durban where he will meet the regional chairperson, Musa Nciki. The NWC and the president will then meet branch, alliance and regional leaders on the state of the organisation. 

Shortly after, the president will have closed meetings with the ANC council caucus, the troikas (council’s speaker, mayor and chief whip), where they will be held to account on service delivery, the state of water, roads

and electricity provision and major projects infrastructure development. 

The M&G recently reported that the KwaZulu-Natal ANC leadership was facing possible disbandment after reports of governance issues and political turmoil. In its assessment, the NWC will make a call on whether it would be prudent to disband the leadership or opt for a less drastic intervention. 

Intervention in KwaZulu-Natal carries the risk of alienating ANC members and voters in a province where the Inkatha Freedom Party made a comeback in 2021 and has been taking wards in by-elections ever since.