Ricardo Mthembu Picture: Facebook

Durban - As the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal races against the clock to fill the vacant provincial cabinet position left by Mxolisi Kaunda, now the mayor of eThekwini, three names have been touted.

Ricardo Mthembu, Bheki Ntuli, and James Nxumalo have emerged as the front runners.

It is understood that the party’s provincial working committee (PWC) is to meet in Durban later today to discuss the matter.

After the meeting, they will recommend names to the province’s top five, led by the chairperson Sihle Zikalala. The top five in the province will also shortlist the names to three and submit them to the deployment committee.

A senior party insider said the process would be concluded this week or early next week. “The process will start when they meet to discuss a potential replacement. Thereafter, the ball will start rolling and possibly the new MEC will be in office this week or early next week,” the insider added.

One party official said they would also look at pleasing the ANC’s alliance partner the SACP by appointing someone from its ranks.

But the ANC’s provincial chairperson, James Nxumalo, a former mayor of Durban, is thought to be better placed as a candidate. Another possible candidate is said to be the party’s provincial secretary, Themba Mthembu, who served as MEC for agriculture in the last administration.

Despite that, the official said Bheki Ntuli was better placed more than anybody else as he is currently the chairperson of the transport portfolio committee in the KZN legislature and he has chaired that committee for several terms.

“Ntuli is better suited for that position, because he understands the portfolio. He is also very senior to the others, as he once served in the National Assembly. Giving him the post would also foster the unity that is being touted in the province, as he was a CR17 supporter ahead of Nasrec,” the official said.

Ntuli is also a former chairperson of the Musa Dladla region in northern KZN, and he was one of the few party members to build ANC structures in the region at a time when the IFP was still a force to be reckoned with.

Some party insiders believe Mthembu, the party’s provincial spokesperson, might be given the post due to his proximity to Zikalala.

Political Bureau