Durban - Two days before the ANC’s Musa Dladla region hosts its crucial regional elective conference, factions are upping their game in smearing their opponents and potential contenders.
The region, which is the fourth biggest in KwaZulu-Natal, is set to host its conference at Meet Mekaar resort outside Richards Bay over the weekend.
In the upcoming elective conference, Thembeka Mchunu, the wife of Cyril Ramaphosa loyalist Senzo Mchunu, will be contesting against a slate led by former chair Mdu Mhlongo.
Mchunu is leading a slate that includes Tholi Gwala as her deputy chairperson, and Lindo Phungula, the immediate past district mayor of King Cetshwayo, as regional treasurer.
In the last regional leadership, Mchunu (Thembeka) was the deputy regional chairperson under the chairpersonship of Mhlongo, the former mayor of uMhlathuze Municipality (Richards Bay-Empangeni).
On Wednesday, the Daily News received a call from a woman who asked to remain anonymous and claimed that one of the men who is set to contest for one of the top five regional positions is facing serious allegations of sexual assault.
“He is accused of sexually assaulting women at his workplace, and his employer is investigating him. Several cases have been pressed against him,” the woman said.
She further alleged that the man, who cannot be named and who is set to contest this weekend, was a known sexual abuser.
However, when asked to produce evidence, like police case numbers, she said she did not have any as she had only heard about the accusations from ANC members in the region. The Musa Dladla region includes towns like Empangeni, Richards Bay, Eshowe and Melmoth.
The Daily News contacted several sources in the region to try to verify the claims, but it could not find concrete evidence. One source said he had heard about the claims, and that they started circulating immediately after the man signalled his intention to contest.
“I heard about that from other members in the region, but no one has ever produced evidence to back up the claims of sexual abuse. That is all that I know about the allegations against the comrade,” said the source.
The contender who is being accused of sexual harassment did not respond when he was asked about the matter, and nor did his employer.
Gwala, who is the regional task team co-ordinator and also the former regional secretary, said the conference was going ahead this weekend and no member had raised objections against some of those earmarked to contest.
“We have not received anything about the matter, nothing,” Gwala said.
The spokesperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, also said they had not received a request to bar any member from contesting because he was facing serious allegations.
“There is nothing that has come to us about that issue,” Ntombela said.
The sexual allegations came amid reports of mistrust within both factions that are vying for power.