ANC chairperson in KZN Sihle Zikalala Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/Independent Media
Durban - KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala has blamed his predecessor, Senzo Mchunu, and a faction of ANC members supporting him for the divisions that have threatened unity in the party in the province.

In an affidavit filed in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in response to an application by a group of ANC members who want the party’s 2015 provincial conference nullified, Zikalala paints a picture of a divided ANC leadership under Mchunu whom he succeeded at the November 2015 conference.

He also claims:

* Decisions, including those relating to deployment, were taken “outside” the provincial executive committee.

* Branch and regional leaders were mobilised not to implement ANC decisions and to flout processes.

* He was undermined by the Mchunu camp while he was provincial secretary.

Approached for comment on Tuesday, Mchunu, who is not a party to the court action, said in an SMS response to The Mercury: “I do not know anything about the existence of such an affidavit by Sihle Zikalala.

“I’m home. I was also not aware that he would write about me if he had to write anything at all about the case. I will need to see such. I’m therefore in no position to comment at this stage.”

Former Premier Senzo Mchunu. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/Independent Media

In the court papers, filed in July, 2016 by ANC members and applicants Lawrence Dube, Sibahle Zikalala, Martin Mzangwa, Mzweni Ngcobo and Lindiwe Buthelezi, it is alleged that the 2015 conference was flawed or rigged.

Among their allegations, the members say the tweeting of results on the @myANC Twitter handle while voting was still under way proves the election was rigged; the provincial congress was held earlier than had been scheduled ; and there were voting irregularities.

These included the voters roll being manipulated to favour certain branches and disadvantage others, and a number of bogus delegates being allowed to vote.

The applicants, who claim to represent 43 branches of the ANC, argued that because the conference was moved forward this should have been requested by at least one third of the ANC branches in the province.

In response, Zikalala refers to the applicants as a disgruntled faction and said the application was “vague, contradictory and misdirected”.

He also said a claim by the applicants that the “divisions that affected the previous provincial executive (led by Mchunu) were as a result of new trends, to which the “Mchunu faction” was vigorously opposed, was patently incorrect and deceptive.

Zikalala said most of the challenges that affected unity “emerged immediately” after Mchunu was elected provincial chairperson in March 2013.

He said after that election Mchunu supporters within the provincial executive committee “projected themselves as people who pioneered the election of the former pro- vincial chairperson (Mchunu) in a manner that suggested that it was now themselves who were in charge of the organisation.”

“There were indications that some decisions of the organisation were processed outside the structures of the organisation before getting into the organisation.

This affected mostly decisions on deployment to government, Zikalala states.

Zikalala, then the provincial secretary, says there was a “wilful and deliberate erosion” of his role.

He claims that some organisational matters that should have been processed by his office were “taken to other offices”.

“There was a lack of unity and collective leadership to an extent that provincial officials would not own and defend decisions they had taken together.”

On holding the conference early, Zikalala said it was in fact Mchunu who first made the call for a provincial conference.

“The so-called Mchunu faction was the one that was always advocating in PEC meetings that the provincial conference should be held in September 2015”.

Zikalala further argues that the applicants’ court action was at least two months late in terms of the rules stipulated by the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

He argues that many administrative decisions including the deployment of officials to government positions had been made by the current leadership, saying matters had gone too far “and cannot at this late stage be unravelled”.

Zikalala said setting aside the election of the provincial executive committee would have serious financial consequences as that conference cost about R12 million. “To have a re-election would obviously incur a corresponding large amount of expenditure.”

The matter is expected to be heard in August.

The Mercury