Durban - The SACP in KwaZulu-Natal has expressed concern about the recent eThekwini ANC regional conference, saying the two factions that were vying for power are seemingly beholden to their funders, not the people of the region as should be the case.
The provincial structure of the SACP met recently to discuss several issues, including the matter of the fiercely contested conference that saw the slate of Zandile Gumede narrowly beating the slate of Thabani Nyawose.
According to three SACP members who attended the meeting, provincial secretary Themba Mthembu raised his concerns that the factions were well funded and even better oiled than the governing party itself.
As the SACP is an alliance partner of the ANC, together with Cosatu, Mthembu is serving as the deputy speaker in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and was previously the MEC for agriculture and rural development.
Mthembu said they should be worried that some business people were funding factions to advance their narrow interests. In the case of eThekwini, he claimed that the business people funded the factions to lay their hands on the R56 billion allocated as the budget of the only metro in KZN.
“(Mthembu) is not happy at all with the elected leadership of eThekwini. He raised serious concerns about it and he was the only one who spoke about that matter, while the likes of James Nxumalo (provincial chairperson) avoided it,” said an insider who attended the meeting.
Another insider told the Daily News that Mthembu indeed raised his concerns. They were based on the fact that both factions appeared to have amassed huge financial war chests ahead of the conference.
“He said it does not matter which faction won the conference, because both factions are more loyal to their funders than the party and the people of the region which they should be serving. According to him, both factions had money to spend on their programmes yet the party was broke and, for months, unable to pay its staff. He is worried that the business people who funded the factions wanted to be rewarded with tenders in the city.
“He warned that the ANC should be worried when factions are well-funded and organised. In the future, its deployees will take instructions from funders instead of implementing party policies,” said a second insider who was also part of the meeting.
A full assessment of the ANC in the province is expected to be tabled later next month when the SACP holds its provincial conference. It is expected that the party will decide on whether to back the re-election bid of ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala or dump him for Nomusa Dube-Ncube.
Mthembu confirmed on Thursday that he did raise concerns about the elective conference.“I was conveying what many people and some of the delegates in that conference are saying. The leadership of the ANC must start to be serious about defending the ANC,” he said.
The spokesperson of the regional leadership, Mlondolozi Mkhize, fired back at Mthembu, saying that if he was not happy with the elected leadership, he should say so openly instead of passing innuendos and commenting “without thinking”.
“Mthembu’s assertion is wrong… Donors don’t determine the path of the organisation. Secondly, we are understanding that there is no party in South Africa that has income. They rely on donors, including the Communist Party,” Mkhize said.
Nyawose said he could not comment on the matter as once a conference of the ANC was done and dusted, factions ceased to exist.
“It is a norm and practice in the ANC that, once the conference has concluded its business, all lobby groups cease to exist. I don’t belong to any faction, therefore I cannot speak on behalf of something that does not exist or something I am not part of.”