ANC leaders in the province are furious that Ramaphosa did not inform them of his engagements in the province in line with ANC tradition.
The matter was discussed at the provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting on Monday.
The PEC decided that the matter be referred to the party’s national executive committee (NEC).
Provincial secretary Super Zuma said the provincial leadership felt Ramaphosa had “blatantly undermined a long-standing tradition of the movement” by not informing local party leaders of his engagements in the province.
The engagements, which infuriated provincial leaders include Ramaphosa’s attendance of a “cadres forum” organised by the South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco) and his recent visit to the Shembe Church.
The Sanco meeting, held on April 28, was also attended by former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu and former MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu.
The two former provincial leaders of the party are seen as the key backers of Ramaphosa in the province.
On Tuesday last week, Mchunu also accompanied Ramaphosa during his visit to the Shembe Church in Empangeni.
Zuma said the provincial leadership of the ANC was never apprised of these meetings.
“I was with him campaigning at Nquthu the whole day and he never raised the issue (of the Newcastle meeting). We are not saying he must not attend programmes but the structures must be respected,” Zuma said.
He added the tradition had always been that when a national leader visited the province, the provincial leadership was informed so that it could deploy provincial or regional leaders to accompany the national leader.
“Recently the treasurer-general of the ANC attended his family gathering in Msinga, but he informed the leadership because the meeting was going to be attended by ANC members. We deployed people there,” he said.
Zuma said even during the recent political lecture by Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in Ixopo, the provincial leadership had been informed and had deployed its deputy provincial secretary, Mluleki Ndobe, to accompany her.
ANC provincial spokesperson and PEC member Mdumiseni Ntuli echoed Zuma’s sentiments on Ramaphosa, saying the deputy president had been invited by the province to campaign in Nquthu.
“Unfortunately he decided that later in the evening he will be diverted to something that was not known by the leadership of the ANC,” Ntuli said.
Falling short of calling the Sanco meeting factional, he said the PEC believed that the Newcastle meeting was “not a genuine” cadres’ forum.
He said the ANC would not abandon its traditions merely because it was approaching a conference in December.
“That is why we are raising that matter: it’s not only against the deputy president, it’s against anybody who decides to come to the province,” he added.
Zuma said Sanco had distanced itself from the Newcastle meeting.
However, when contacted on Wednesday Richard Mkhungo, the secretary of Sanco in KZN, said the meeting was an official Sanco gathering.
“I knew about the meeting from the start. When it was initially planned there was no plan to invite Ramaphosa."
“However, upon realising that he was in the province, the regional leadership decided to invite him. You cannot then factionalise the meeting just because you do not like the leader.”
Mkhungo said he was surprised at the ANC’s stance, and that other leaders such as Dlamini Zuma were freely criss-crossing the province and addressing various gatherings.
Sanco in KwaZulu-Natal intended backing Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency and would be taking its proposal to the organisation’s national executive committee on Friday.
ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party had not yet received any formal complaint from its KZN leadership.
He said this was a matter that the national leadership would be dealing with as there have been other complaints about national leaders going to address structures without the knowledge of the local structures of the party.
“We do encourage leaders that whenever they undertake organisational or political work anywhere that they inform the local structure. However, this does not only depend on the leader, it also depends on the inviting structure.”
He said this was good practice for the health of the alliance and of the organisation.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said he could not comment on matters of the ANC.
Regarding the visit to the Shembe Church, he said the deputy president had visited the church in his capacity as the deputy president of the republic to celebrate the life of Prophet Isaiah Shembe, the founder of the church.
He also refused to comment on the Sanco meeting.