Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa File picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
Durban – Influential leaders of the tripartite alliance in KwaZulu-Natal, who are being named as backers of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in the ANC presidential race, have denied they are part of any campaign.

Former KZN ANC chairperson and premier Senzo Mchunu, who has been seen with Ramaphosa at at least two events in KZN recently, said he was not campaigning for anyone.

A Sunday newspaper also claimed that other influential leaders in the province including Bheki Cele, Mike Mabuyakhulu, James Nxumalo and the SACP’s Themba Mthembu were backing Ramaphosa, but this was denied .

While The Mercury could not reach Nxumalo on Sunday, the other three men said the ANC’s nomination process had not yet opened.

Cele said he was not doing any campaigning for now.

“No candidate has been nominated, so how can we be campaigning? Once the nomination process has been opened we all will campaign for the candidate we like.

“Those who are ill-disciplined can start now doing as they like, but we will wait for the ANC to open its nomination process. For now, there is nothing,” Cele added.

Mthembu said the SACP had taken a principled decision not to align themselves with any factions. “Even when the nomination process has opened, we will not be aligning ourselves with anyone.

“What we have decided in principle, is the kind of leader we would like to see leading the alliance and the ANC,” he said.

Mabuyakhulu said no one had spoken to him about campaigning. When asked if there is a candidate he preferred, he said: “Like I said, no one has spoken to me, but I will deal with that matter as a member of the ANC when the time is opportune.”

In the interview, Mchunu criticised the notion that the ANC should not discuss its challenges in public.

“Opposition parties discuss our problems in public,” he pointed out. “We must choose whether we want our problems articulated by the opposition and ordinary citizens – or by ourselves, so that we are able to confront them.

“People will say things that embarrass the ANC, whether we talk about them or not.” He said those who deny there are problems are being economical with the truth.

“When you say there are crises, they say there are no crises. They believe the only problems facing the ANC centre on poverty and challenges facing education in the country. Their insistence that there are no other problems is making the party unstable,” he said.

Mchunu believes the ANC consists of two camps: one that admits it’s facing leadership challenges and the other, what he refers to as the “denialists”. He was among many ANC members who are not denialists, he said.

“There are those who admit that the image of the ANC has been dented. They say we have lost the values and traditions of the party – notably integrity and dignity.”

Touching on the temptation confronting those in government today, he said: “There are tenders and money. And there are now people with lots of money and influence. This is the new type of problem that you never had in the ANC before.”

He said it was a concern that the leaders were failing to follow their own rules – to such an extent that the courts had to intervene to challenge decisions. He supported his followers who approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court to challenge the outcome of the provincial conference which ousted him from power.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe declined to comment on the issues raised by Mchunu on Sunday. He said he would speak to Mchunu directly.

ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma said they did not understand what Mchunu was trying to say. “He is just trying to elevate his level of importance, maybe he is lonely as there are no structures of the ANC where he belongs.”

Zuma said remarks that people inside the ANC were trying to protect President Jacob Zuma were unfounded. “Zuma is the leader of the ANC, so protecting him means protecting the party.”

Political analyst Protas Madlala said the divisions in the ANC had begun as far back as 2007, before its Polokwane national conference where Jacob Zuma was elected the party’s president in preference to former president Thabo Mbeki.

“This is not going to have a good impact on the 2019 elections, because we saw with last year’s local government elections that here, in Durban particularly, there were many independent candidates About 87 of them.

“The ANC’s performance was very bad. It is no secret that there is something wrong within the party,” Madlala said.

The Mercury