ANC to look to Dlamini Zuma and Mkhize to boost 2024 election campaign in KZN

An ANC flag is seen in a supporter’s cap.

The ANC is unlikely to discipline former health minister Zweli Mkhize and minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for their stance on the Phala Phala parliamentary vote as they are seen as being important for the party’s election campaign in 2024, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. File Picture: Sizwe Ndingane.

Published Jun 14, 2023


Durban - The ANC will not discipline national executive committee (NEC) members who voted against the party line during a parliamentary vote on the Phala Phala scandal, and will instead call on those with links to KwaZulu-Natal to assist the party ahead of next year’s elections.

ANC sources said the party was unlikely to take disciplinary action against former health minister Zweli Mkhize and minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma before the 2024 elections as they are both seen as central to the party’s leadership, especially in KZN. The ANC in the province is under pressure from the IFP and the DA. The IFP has been making inroads into previous ANC strongholds.

These discussions were held when the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) was in KZN a few weeks ago.

An ANC source said while some in the party want action to be taken against Mkhize and Dlamini Zuma, both were seen as national leaders who wield influence in KZN.

“If they are targeted by the national disciplinary committee, where does this leave their influence on next year’s elections? This is a headache for both groups because one side wants to see disciplinary action while others believe this will undermine the prospects of the party when people vote. The overall feeling was that all hands were needed on deck, especially in KZN.”

In the wake of the parliamentary vote in December last year, where the ANC used its majority to veto the adoption of the section 89 report on Phala Phala, there were threats of disciplinary action against the ANC MPs who voted with the opposition or abstained.

Dlamini Zuma, former North West chairperson Supra Mahumapelo and Tandi Mahambehlala voted for Ramaphosa to face an impeachment process while Mkhize was absent during voting.

At the time, then acting secretary-general and now Deputy President Paul Mashatile wrote to Dlamini Zuma and said she had voted contrary to the position of the NEC and the ANC caucus for the adoption of the report.

“Furthermore, (the party’s constitution) provides that any member, office bearer or public representative who fails, refuses and/or neglects to abide by the provisions of the constitution of the ANC, its standing orders, rules, regulations, resolutions and policies adopted or made in terms of the constitution shall be liable to be disciplined in terms of this constitution.”

The matter was then left to Ralph Mgijima, the chairperson of the ANC’s National Disciplinary Committee.

Dlamini Zuma insisted that she never defied any party directive as the ANC NEC meeting that discussed the matter never reached an agreement as chairperson Gwede Mantashe closed it prematurely.

The recent NWC visit to KZN came amid questions over the provincial leadership and how it was dealing with the disastrous school nutrition programme and service delivery challenges in the province, especially the financial stability of the eThekwini Municipality.

It is understood that the NWC wants to appoint an NEC member to manage the province’s electoral campaign.

In December then ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said action against Mahambehlala, Mahumapelo, Dlamini Zuma, Mervyn Dirks and Mosebenzi Zwane had been stopped out of concern that it may appear that the party wanted to stifle debate.

ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri did not respond to a request for comment.

Former president Jacob Zuma, despite the challenges he has brought to the organisation, is considered by some to be influential, especially in KZN.

Zuma was appointed an office bearer of the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in KZN but its warring provincial executive committee was disbanded although Zuma will help steer an interim structure.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said the dilemma for the ANC was that Dlamini Zuma and Mkhize had taken a principled stance, even if it meant defying the party line.

“They cannot afford to lose KZN and to eliminate NDZ and Mkhize through disciplinary processes. Even former president Thabo Mbeki questioned why the submissions of people who had different ideas on Phala Phala had been suppressed.”

Seepe said he did not think Zuma would openly campaign for the ANC because of factional elements in the party.