Durban – The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has been urged to rally behind one candidate as branch support shows divisions between those who are backing Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, while others are rallying behind Dr Zweli Mkhize.
This as the regional executive committee of the powerful eThekwini region announced its support for Mkhize as party president and ANC treasurer Paul Mashatile as his deputy ahead of the party’s national elective conference in December.
The eThekwini pronouncement comes as branches in the province look to finalise their nominations for NEC leaders at branch general meetings to be held this weekend.
ANC insiders say that it is crucial that the party rally behind a single candidate and that intense lobbying with other provinces starts as soon as possible to garner support for that particular candidate.
While eThekwini region has endorsed Mkhize, ward 32 this week openly declared their support for Dlamini Zuma, saying they were confident that she could bring the change envisioned by others in the province.
Her supporters say that she has been told that other branches in eThekwini and the rest of the province will give her their support.
“She also has support of branches and regions in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. Watch the OR Tambo region as she will emerge as the preferred candidate,” a lobbyist for Dlamini Zuma said.
EThekwini regional executive committee spokesperson Mondli Mkhize said that they had convened a meeting of chairs and secretaries who had agreed on the names of Mkhize as future president and Mashatile as deputy president.
The meeting, dubbed the “festival of ideas”, felt that there was a strong public perception that the ANC, as a governing party, no longer focused on the real issues of service delivery and improving the lives of the people, said Mkhize.
“Critically, the festival agreed that a new president and new deputy president are needed to refocus the ANC and ultimately change the future of South Africa.
“For other positions, the REC will engage other regions as guided by the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC). Finally, the festival agreed on the need to elect leaders who will work hard to ensure that the ANC remains an organisation that is in touch with the needs of the people and becomes a catalyst for socio-economic development,” said Mkhize.
Zenzele Msomi, the secretary of the Harry Gwala region, said branches in the area would use the weekend to finalise their nominations.
“Personally, we need to look at the track record of the person we are selecting to lead. There are some weaknesses amongst the current leaders and branch members feel that these leaders are given a mandate but don’t adhere to it.
“The present NEC was given many resolutions at the 2017 elective conference and the only one they have implemented is the step-aside issue.”
Msomi said branches were also cognisant of and hurt by the non-payment of ANC staff.
“Leaders who don’t treat their own staff well do not garner respect. So, branches will look at making changes guided by the material conditions on the ground.”
Bheka Dlamini, deputy chairperson of the General Gizenga Mpanza region, said they were expecting to meet the chairpersons of all branches today and would only make a pronouncement on leadership preferences after that meeting.
Another ANC source said KZN branches wanted an alternative leader of the party but the challenge was that there hadn’t been a decision taken on who would challenge Cyril Ramaphosa for leadership of the party.
“If you put your hand up too early, ways might be found to remove that person from the race. The preferred candidate from this province may emerge closer to the date of the conference.
“Branches and regions remember that before the Mangaung and Nasrec conferences, certain PECs and regions were disqualified from participating. The goal is to make it to the national conference and that is where you can influence proceedings,” the source said.
Political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu said it wasn’t in the province’s strategic interest to have more than one preferred candidate at this stage.
“If it is between Dlamini Zuma and Mkhize then the province should decide quickly on which one they prefer. The 2017 conference, where KZN had multiple candidates, revealed that you run the risk of getting nothing.”
Mngomezulu said input and support was needed at a national level and that discussions should have already taken place with other provinces on whose name would be put forward to run against Ramaphosa.