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Durban - After 10 years as ANC chairman in the powerful Ward 35, uMhlanga, businessman Roy Moodley has been ousted in a surprise move.
His replacement is Thembinkosi Ngcobo, head of eThekwini Municipality’s Parks, Recreation and Culture.
Moodley critics said this was the outcome of a carefully orchestrated strategy by delegates who had been trying for years to remove him as chairman.
But Moodley said Ngcobo’s nomination was no surprise – he had opted to stand down.
uMhlanga is reputed to be the wealthiest and most influential ANC ward in the province.
Last month, members of the ward donated R400 000 to the party in the province, and yesterday they held an election at the Sharks Board, in uMhlanga, for branch office bearers.
Sources said Moodley was nominated weeks ago, but was not informed that Ngcobo had also been proposed for the post.
Last night, Moodley denied he had been ousted as chairman: “I held the position for 10 years and decided to step down. I am a very busy businessman and cannot give this portfolio the attention it deserves. But I will remain an executive member of the branch and the ANC.”
Moodley said it had been a “dead branch” that he had revived in the past decade.
“I was not hanging on to power. I was nominated and declined. One cannot stay in the same position for ever.
“I was also not taken by surprise. I knew that Ngcobo was in the running. Anyway, I am convinced that if it did go to vote, I would have won hands down. I would have defeated him. Many members were upset by my decision.”
A prominent Durban businesswoman and branch member, who did not want to be named, said Moodley was surprised by Ngcobo’s nomination.
“He publicly stated that if his position was being contested, he was withdrawing his nomination. He said it was the first time that the chairman position was ever contested.”
She said the branch was in much need of new blood.
“Moodley’s name-dropping of the president also frustrated me. Everything that he did, Zuma’s name always cropped out. That’s not acceptable. It casts doubt on his credibility.”
Another prominent Durban businessman, who also did not want to be named, said several attempts had been made in the past to oust Moodley.
“He always managed to bring in his people to vote for him. This time members prepared in advance. There were behind-the-scenes moves for weeks to ensure he was not re-elected.”
He said Ngcobo’s nomination was welcomed by applause and cheering.
“Roy got the shock of his life. He spared himself the embarrassment of losing the election by withdrawing his nomination.”
The businessman said the ward had 250 members.
“This is a powerful ward from a wealth and political connection point of view. It needs strong and dynamic leadership. With the change at the helm, I am sure many more members will now attend meetings and play an even bigger role in the ANC in KZN.”
The newly-elected leadership of Ward 35 includes Ngcobo as chairman, Bongiwe Sithole as deputy chairwoman, Julia Schuping as secretary, Nkululeko Mkhize as deputy secretary and Logie Naidoo as treasurer.
Ngcobo could not be reached for comment.