Durban — A political fallout is looming between eThekwini ANC regional leadership and the party’s provincial bosses following the latter’s decision to strip the regional structure of its oversight powers in the municipality.
The region was said to be viewing the decision as a vote of no confidence in its leadership, and it could be defied.
An eThekwini senior regional leader who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity on Wednesday said they were shocked by the decision. He said they did not know what informed the PEC’s (Provincial Executive Committee) decision without having called or met them to say that they were failing to do their jobs.
The leader said the decision would have serious political ramifications for the ANC in next year’s election. He said it looked like the current provincial leadership had not learnt from the “disastrous” outcome of the previous provincial leadership’s decision that disbanded the regional leadership towards the 2021 local government election.
“You will recall that the PEC under Sihle Zikalala and Mdumiseni Ntuli intervened in a similar way. Although the current PEC has not disbanded us, their decision is equivalent to the disbandment because we have been stripped of our political powers which we were elected to execute – that of supervising our deployees in the municipality,” said the leader.
Furthermore, he said the ANC provincial leadership appeared not to know what they wanted because in May they said the problem was with the administration, and they brought in a section 154 committee. He said that three months down the line without even having seen whether the committee would turn things around, they were now blaming the ANC caucus as the one that was “problematic”. The leader said the Zikalala leadership’s decision to disband the regional leadership and remove the entire executive committee (Exco) had backfired during the local government elections where the party nearly lost the only metro in the province.
ANC eThekwini regional spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said the region had welcomed the PEC’s decision, but was awaiting clarity on how they were going to work together in playing an oversight role in the City since the region had not been disbanded.
Weighing in on the decision, Dr Fikile Vilakazi from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Politics and Public Policy department concurred with the ANC eThekwini leadership that the decision would negatively affect the party in next year’s general elections.
Vilakazi said it was correct for the regional structure to view the decision as a vote of no confidence in its leadership, adding that she did not see the demoralised eThekwini regional leadership going all out to campaign for the party after being stripped of its powers.
“I see this as creating more divisions and factions within the ANC in the province. It has proven disastrous to go to the elections with task teams because branches did not regard them as legitimate structures. In some instances you find that branches were sympathetic to the dissolved structures and boycott the party campaigns,” said Vilakazi.
She added that the PEC’s decision might have been taken to avoid going to the elections with the Zandile Gumede faction because of the issue of integrity. Vilakazi said whether Gumede was found guilty or not, it was a fact that she still wielded influence in eThekwini.
After its two-day PEC meeting at the weekend, provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo announced on Tuesday that the PEC had taken over the political oversight role from the regional leadership of eThekwini to deal with poor governance issues in the city.
Adding its voice to the announcement, the opposition cautioned the ANC not to interfere with the administration of the city. The DA in eThekwini rejected the intervention, calling it direct political interference by ANC politicians in order to access the City’s resources. DA caucus leader in the City councillor Thabani Mthethwa asked how the ANC would run the City without legislative powers. He said the only proper and legal intervention needed to rescue the city’s administration would be section 139(b).
The IFP’s Mdu Nkosi said his party was not interested in the internal ANC politics as long as there was no interference with the administration.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said the view that the decision was a vote of no confidence against the eThekwini REC was misguided.
Mndebele said it would have been irresponsible for the PEC to go to the elections next year having not acted on many concerns raised by people on how eThekwini municipality was run.
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