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Sihle Zikalala lambasts RET faction leaders, says they paid lip service to the policy while in power

Published Apr 9, 2022

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Durban - In a move that could be interpreted as his parting shot before he completely turns his back on the RET faction which once saw him as one of its own, KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala has lambasted party leaders who never implemented the policy while in power and had a chance.

Zikalala told delegates attending the elective eThekwini regional conference at the ICC in Durban that it was shameful that the policy is now being used to divide the ANC.

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Without mentioning names, he said some of the leaders who are now claiming to be leaders of the ideology never practise it. He added that his provincial government is practising it.

The RET (radical economic transformation) policy was adopted as a policy of the governing party at the Nasrec conference in 2017 where Cyril Ramaphosa drubbed Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma with the help of David Mabuza and the Mpumalanga delegation.

Over the years the policy has divided the ANC as Ramaphosa’s detractors claimed that he replaced it with the “new dawn” policy they claimed was imported from Stellenbosch and was moulded by white monopoly capital.

Later, supporters of former president Jacob Zuma, like the RET champions led by Nkosentsha Shezi, have claimed that the ex-president was the father of the policy which was aimed at uplifting black people and empowering them economically.

Often, they call him the “Father of RET”. That has not gone down well with Zuma detractors who claim that he never empowered black people during his nine year presidency. Instead, they claim that he only empowered the Guptas, their close associates and only started singing about the policy when he realised that his days in power were coming to an end.

Now Zikalala has seemingly revived the debate with his comments.

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“Programmes of the organisation are not programmes of factions and therefore we must not factionalise them. There are those who were in government before. They did less to implement RET but today they call themselves a group of RET. Such groups are factionalising programmes of the ANC but they have been nowhere on the implementation of that programme.

“You cannot be deployed by the same movement to advance its policies, then you keep quiet. You don’t implement policies, then you are out (of power), then you begin to say now you stand for transformation. You should have implemented transformation,” Zikalala said.

Noticeably, Zikalala’s comments on the matter drew a round of thunderous applause from the Thabani Nyawose faction which was seated on one side of the conference hall while there were murmurs from the Zandile Gumede side.

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The Zandile Gumede faction is openly pro-RET and openly sympathetic to Zuma.

On another matter, Zikalala frowned at national leaders of the party who he alleged were always in regions trying to influence conferences. The swipe was apparently aimed at a “head count” event which was held by the Zandile Gumede faction in a Durban hotel ahead of the conference.

Voting for the regional top five is expected to start late on Saturday and results are expected early on Sunday.

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