Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu delivered his inaugural State of the Province address amid speculation that he would be recalled.
But several high-profile sources independently said Mchunu was safe “for now” as he enjoyed the backing of President Jacob Zuma, who had the prerogative to deploy and recall premiers.
Mchunu, also deputy chairperson of the ANC in KZN, took over as a so-called caretaker premier from Senzo Mchunu after he resigned last year following pressure from the national working committee.
Some at the time said the current premier was holding the fort for Sihle Zikalala, provincial chairperson and Economic Development MEC.
Speaking after his address earlier this week, Mchunu said he had no problem with being recalled because he was deployed by the ANC and he did not choose to be premier.
But sources said this was unlikely despite some provincial executive committee members allegedly having asked Zuma to recall Mchunu – a request he declined.
Instead he warned them that any reshuffle would further divide the province, which was influential in elective conferences, said a source.
This comes as the party prepares for the elective conference in December.
It is believed Zuma wants a united KZN before the elective conference that would rally behind his preferred candidate.
It has been insinuated that he is in support of his ex-wife and former AU Commission chairperson, Nkosazana Dla-mini Zuma, as his preferred candidate to succeed him.
It has been reported that Zikalala was tasked with garnering support for Dlamini Zuma in the province, a claim that was denied.
A source in the provincial government said Mchunu was finding it difficult conducting his duties as he was required to report all the decisions he took in his capacity as premier to the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC).
“These are frustrating tactics. They want him to voluntarily step down. Every move he makes he must report to the PEC which is somewhat unusual. Sometimes he has to make decisions at his own discretion as premier,” said a source within provincial government.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Tribune has learnt through a senior ANC leader of plans to mend tensions between the Zikalala and Senzo Mchunu camps. He said KZN, which had the most delegates at the national conference, was better united than divided.
ANC spokesperson Super Zuma denied that the PEC wanted to recall Mchunu or that Mchunu reported to the PEC.