President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: GCIS
Durban - In an effort to promote unity and restore confidence in the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, President Cyril Ramaphosa will be opening the highly anticipated ­provincial conference in Durban from Thursday.

Zizi Kodwa, who is in the Office of the Presidency at the ANC’s headquarters, said Ramaphosa’s decision to ­deliver the keynote address was due to the province’s ­important role in the party’s history.

“It is important not only in terms of numbers, but also historically in the role it plays in influencing national discourse,” he said.

Kodwa said KZN was the epitome of unity in the ANC because of its ability to mobilise all forces during electioneering, meetings or any gatherings the party hosted.

“KZN has always been a torch-bearer of the ANC, and it is important that confidence is restored in the people, given some of the challenges the party has faced in the past year,” Kodwa said.

The provincial conference was supposed to have taken place in Empangeni last month, but it was interdicted at the 11th hour after some disgruntled branches took the party to court just hours before the conference started.

The party’s national dispute resolution committee, led by deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, had to intervene by dealing with appeals and grievances from the disgruntled members.

The ANC was due in the Pietermaritzburg High Court last week to deliver its ­arguments in the case brought against it by the aggrieved members, but after intense discussions and negotiations the matter was settled out of court.

That settlement resulted in plans to hold the conference this weekend.

The ANC’s provincial task team convener, Sihle Zika­lala, said they were hoping to emerge as a united party after the conference and have a clear direction on the electioneering programmes that would take place for the rest of the year.

The eighth provincial conference will run until Saturday at the Durban University of Technology.

According to Zikalala, about 1700 delegates are ­expected to attend, with registration from 8am until 1pm. Ramaphosa is expected to speak shortly after 2pm.

“Everything has been finalised, and we are looking forward to holding a successful conference. We will be looking at how best to implement the resolutions taken at the ­national conference in Nasrec in December,” he said.

ANC spokesperson Mhlaba Memela said they were expecting a “peaceful and healthy” conference.

“We have to engage on a number of things, including how to implement the resolutions from our national conference. The other issue is that of elections taking place next year.

“We have to move on to phase two of our election campaign, and I’m sure that after this conference all focus will be on that," Memela said.

The Mercury