Supporters of former premier Senzo Mchunu were in a celebratory mood on Tuesday as they digested the KwaZulu-Natal High Court ruling that the 2015 party provincial elective conference was “unlawful and invalid”.
Mchunu’s staunch supporters, many of whom were removed by the then newly elected provincial executive committee (PEC) soon after it took office, took turns to address the crowd.
In between chanting, they raised placards in support of Mchunu and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, while denouncing ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala.
Lower South Coast region secretary Mzwandile Mkhwanazi accused the leadership of deepening factions in the province by persecuting those who supported Mchunu in the lead-up to the elective conference.
“The comrades who supported Comrade Senzo today are at home, they are unemployed. They were chased out by fellow comrades as if they belonged to the IFP,” he said.
He referred to former eThekwini Municipality exco member Nigel Gumede, former Durban mayor James Nxumalo, former agriculture MEC Cyril Xaba and former Msunduzi Municipality mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo.
“We have never seen such factionalism. In this province, people were being fired via two-page reports; it did not matter whether the contents were factual or not,” Mkhwanazi said.
He said regions known to support Mchunu in his bid to remain chairperson had also suffered.
“Immediately after the provincial conference, they visited us in the Lower South Coast region and asked for reasons why they should not disband us,” Mkhwanazi said, referring to the pro-Mchunu and Ramaphosa region, which recently had its powers stripped.
The region has since appealed against this decision to the ANC's national executive committee (NEC).
But the so-called rebels told supporters that the verdict was an opportunity to restore unity.
Jomo Sibiya, another Mchunu supporter, from the Nkosi Bambatha region, said the outcome was an opportunity to save the organisation and “teach them what the ANC is”.
“We believe that this is a moment where we should all unite, sit down and reflect,” Sibiya said.
He added that Mchunu's supporters were willing to engage with the nullified provincial leadership to tackle factionalism and unify the ANC.
“There are comrades who were wronged, and they should be afforded an apology. The case was never about ourselves, it was about the ANC,” Sibiya said.
While leaving the KwaZulu- Natal High Court, Zikalala’s allies, including ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli and eThekwini regional secretary Bheki Ntuli, were booed by Mchunu supporters.
The rebels had previously been criticised for “taking organisational matters to court”.
Sibusiso Mhlongo, deputy secretary of the Abaqulusi region, also took a swipe at the nullified provincial leadership.
“What is interesting is that they said the courts should not be dragged into organisational matters, but where will they go to file the appeal?” Mhlongo asked.
He told supporters to go back to the branches and “rebuild the ANC truthfully”.