DURBAN - THE emergence of new ANC regional leaders in the Moses Mabhida and General Gizenga Mpanza regions has put into sharp focus the divisions that still exist in the party in KwaZulu-Natal.
This is the view of political economist Professor Irrshad Kaseeram after the two regional conferences held in KZN at the weekend produced leaders that exposed the factions in the party.
Kaseeram was reacting to the emergence of a pro-Cyril Ramaphosa slate in the Moses Mabhida region, where Msunduzi mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla was elected as the regional chairperson.
In the General Gizenga Mpanza region, Vusi “Mavayi” Mthethwa emerged as the chairperson, with an executive committee that is seen as being sympathetic to former president Jacob Zuma.
“The problem in South Africa is that the opposition is weak and unable to really challenge the ANC, and therefore the real power struggle takes place within the ruling party,” said Kaseeram.
He added that the factions, one aligned to Zuma and the other to Ramaphosa, were likely to continue their power struggle, within and outside KZN.
Many in the ANC believe that Thebolla’s elevation to Msunduzi mayor in November 2019 was not easy as he did so under the watch of the Regional Task Team that had Thulani “Two Ways” Xulu as convener, and Mandla Zondi as co-ordinator. As the chairperson he is guaranteed to get the support he needs, and more is expected of him as a mayor.
“The ball is in his court now, if he fails as the mayor this will have occurred under the region that is led by him,” said one ANC member who attended the two-day conference that ended yesterday.
Thebolla was not the only mayor elected, as Samora Ndlovu, the current mayor of Richmond, was elevated to the crucial position of regional secretary. This means that he will now have to vacate his position as mayor after serving for about six weeks because the regional secretary is a full-time deployment. The rest of the top five consist of Nhlaka Ntombela as the deputy chairperson, Mxolisi Mkhize as the deputy secretary, and Mathokwane Hlabisa as the treasurer.
The emergence of the new regional executive committee is also seen as reflecting the growing influence of Ramaphosa in the second largest region in the province, which is made up of Pietermaritzburg and surrounding towns.
In the General Gizenga Mpanza Region, which is made up of Stanger and surrounding areas, Mthethwa was elected as the chairperson with Bhekamaswazi Dlamini as his deputy, while Siphesihle Zulu was elected as regional-secretary. Zibuyisile Dlamini is the new deputy secretary and Thulani Ntuli completes the top five as the new regional treasurer.
Many ANC members have insisted that the new regional executive committee (REC) has members who voted under the NDZ slate. The NDZ faction emerged in 2017 when Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was contesting for the party presidency, which she lost.
Party insiders said the emergence of the REC in the General Gizenga Mpanza region served as a reminder that Zuma was still an influential figure in the province’s politics. However, the committee said the election of the top-five was a true demonstration of unity and renewal – a giant leap towards the attainment of the ANC’s strategic objectives and commitments for political hegemony.
The election of the new leadership, the REC said, added more chapters to the good story that the region had been able to tell from the success of its previous conferences, in re-emphasising its commitments to the people.
The REC noted that the conference was held at a particular interval where delegates were given the opportunity to elect leaders with a view to advancing the work of the ANC, so that it may live up to its promise.
The Josiah Gumede region, which is the Ladysmith area, also held its regional conference, but the results had not been confirmed at the time of publication. The ANC has 11 regions, and so far five have held their elective conferences.
ANC KZN spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela told The Mercury yesterday that they were satisfied with how the three conferences had been held.
“We are of the opinion that everything went as planned, and with the three conferences done and dusted, it means that now with Amalahle and the far north having also held their conferences, we have six more regions that need to sit,” said Ntombela.
He dismissed suggestions that other regions would hold conferences this year. According to the spokesperson, the next step was to start facilitating the holding of the remaining conferences, which were set to be held in January, with one of them being the eagerly awaited eThekwini regional conference.
The weekend’s developments set the scene for the provincial conference to be held next year.