/ 15 November 2023

ANC deploys Dlamini Zuma, Mkhize to KZN to help with election campaign

The ANC has confirmed that it has deployed KwaZulu-Natal heavyweights Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Zweli Mkhize to boost its elections machinery in the province.

Despite their having defied the party by voting with the opposition benches for the impeachment of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC has confirmed that it has deployed KwaZulu-Natal heavyweights Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Zweli Mkhize to boost its elections machinery in the province. 

Speculation has been rife on whether the ANC  would take action against the two senior leaders who went up against Ramaphosa and lost in the 2022 Nasrec ANC elections. 

With the party facing a possible decline in KwaZulu-Natal, ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri told the Mail & Guardian that the two leaders would join former provincial deputy chair Mike Mabuyakhulu in its elections work.

Following his acquittal in a protracted corruption case, Mabuyakhulu was appointed as the provincial elections head and will focus his efforts on Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) strongholds in district municipalities, with the support of Mkhize and Dlamini Zuma. 

Insiders said the party would also add Ravi Pillay to the provincial elections team. Pillay resigned as a member of the executive council in the KwaZulu-Natal government after premier Sihla Zikalala resigned. He is considered to have considerable weight in the province. 

“Procedurally speaking you don’t remove people from deployment when they are being subjected to a disciplinary committee [DC] unless the DC says hang ten. So we have to follow due process,” Bhengu-Motsiri said. 

She was referring to a process in which the party had undertaken to discipline the two senior ANC leaders after they defied the party instruction. Dlamini Zuma went further by failing to show up for a critical vote to impeach former public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. 

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina made her intentions known, writing to party secretary general Fikile Mbalula and demanding that action be taken against Dlamini Zuma. 

The M&G understands that the ANC leaders met national elections head Mdumiseni Ntuli two weeks ago to discuss their deployment in the province. 

An ANC insider close to the talks said the meeting was called by Ntuli to “get them seamlessly integrated into the machinery in KZN”. 

The ruling party has been at pains to arrest a further decline in its electoral numbers in the province. KwaZulu-Natal has the second largest registered voter block in South Africa at  20.79%, behind Gauteng, which has 23.45%

The ANC’s biggest drawcard in KwaZulu-Natal, former president Jacob Zuma, was  elected chair of the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in the province, to the surprise of the ANC. 

The provincial leadership has been plagued by governance issues and political turmoil. The IFP — the ANC’s biggest rival in KwaZulu-Natal — is in pole position to regain the majority when the country goes to the polls next year. All this has left senior ANC officials reluctant to cause any further instability in the province. 

Mkhize received the lion’s share of support from his home province when he ran against Ramaphosa in the 2022 party elections. Dlamini Zuma is also counted among the ANC national leaders who wield influence in the province.