DURBAN, April 23 – The African National Congress top six officials arrived in Durban on Sunday in a bid to unify KwaZulu-Natal regions, listen to the qualms of branches, and finalise a date for the divided province to finally hold its elective conference.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is currently meeting the eThekwini region at Moses Mabhida Stadium. eThekwini is the country’s biggest ANC region, but is also plagued with divisions.
The stadium had just hours earlier been the scene of violence when Kaiser Chief’s fans stormed the pitch after the club’s Saturday night 2-0 beating by Free State Stars in the semi-final of the Nedbank Cup competition. Clean-up crews worked overnight to make sure the venue was clean before the arrival of Ramaphosa.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has been split into two factions since its 2015 provincial conference where new leadership was elected. One camp backs Ramaphosa and the South African Communist Party, and former ANC provincial chairman and axed premier Senzo Mchunu. This faction gathered on Monday calling for the postponement of the provincial elective conference, claiming they were being barred from branch meetings and registering as members in good standing.
The other group – who say the elective conference needs to run as soon as possible – supported former African Union commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC president in December 2017 at the national elective conference, and support former president Jacob Zuma as well as Sihle Zikalala.
Zikalala was provincial ANC leader until January when the party suspended the leadership after the Pietermaritzburg High Court found that the 2015 elective conference, won by Zikalala against Mchunu, was null and void. An interim structure was set up and co-led by Zikalala with Ramaphosa-backer Mike Mabuyakhulu. Their mandate was to ensure the provincial elective conference was held by the end of April, but they failed. The interim structure was only supposed to function for three months and their mandate ends on Tuesday.
Sunday’s meeting saw a large group ejected from the meeting as only branch chairs and secretaries were allowed to attend. It also saw private broadcaster eNCA’s cameraman and journalist stopped from filming during a live broadcast, while shouts of “factional”, directed at the television crew, could be heard in the background. Other journalists were also told to stop recording or taking photographs with no reasons given.
Members of the ANC national working committee (NWC) and national executive committee (NEC) have been deployed all over the province. Deputy President David Mabuza and others are meeting regions in the north, including Zululand and Ilembe. Secretary general Ace Magashule, and Bathabile Dlamini, Jackson Mthembu, and others are meeting regions in Pietermaritzburg and the south.
National chairman Gwede Mantashe, Thandi Modise, Zizi Kodwa, and Senzo Mchunu are meeting regions in the Newcastle and Dundee areas. Treasurer general Paul Mashatile, and Dlamini-Zuma and others are meeting the Musa Dladla region in Empangeni. These meetings are expected to run well into the evening. On Monday, the NWC and interim provincial structure will meet at the Coastlands Hotel in Durban to finalise if and when the provincial elective conference will be held.