DURBAN, April 16 – Around 300 African National Congress (ANC) members from branches belonging to the eThekwini region in KwaZulu-Natal and aligned with the faction supporting President Cyril Ramaphosa, gathered at the Durban beach front on Monday, to protest factionalism, gate keeping and “manipulation of party processes”.
eThekwini is the party’s largest region countrywide and has considerable sway in decision making.
The marchers claim they and others have deliberately been obstructed from renewing their party membership or registering new members because of their support for Ramaphosa.
Thabani Nyawose, a branch secretary in Ward 66 in Durban’s Bluff area who spoke at the event, told ANA that members were concerned about “access to ANC membership” within the region.
He said their issues were officially tabled on Sunday with the eThekwini region chairperson, Zandile Gumede (who is also the Durban mayor) at a meeting facilitated by Sihle Zikalala, the coordinator of the party’s provincial interim committee (PIC).
They maintain that they are being excluded from renewing their membership so that the pro-Zikalala faction can guarantee victory when the party reruns the provincial elective conference.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has had no provincial executive committee (PEC) since January, when the mother body suspended the leadership. This followed a court ruling last year that the 2015 provincial elective conference – where Zikalala was elected chairman – and its outcomes were null and void.
The PIC was established to ready the province for a new elective conference by the end of April, however there is still no clear date on when the conference will be held.
Zikalala’s disbanded provincial executive committee is sympathetic to former President Jacob Zuma. Zikalala and his supporters, including the sitting provincial premier Willies Mchunu, supported Zuma at his recent Durban High Court appearance on charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption.
They also voted for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to be party president at the ANC’s December elective conference instead of Ramaphosa.
But Nyawose denied those who had gathered on Monday formed part of the anti-Zikalala faction.
“We are all ANC members who are being excluded,” he said.
“We are being excluded through the voter’s roll. Our [membership] forms…are not being accepted by branch executive committees, even though the PIC has said that all forms [including those sent electronically] have to be accepted. The branch executive committees are refusing to comply with PIC decisions,” he said.
“They are refusing us access because we did not support comrade Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and because in 2015 we never supported comrade Zandile Gumede or comrade Sihle Zikalala. They are operating as a faction.”
Six ANC members from the region were scheduled to meet with the eThekwini regional executive committee and Zikalala on Monday afternoon, said Nyawose.