James Nxumalo
Durban - The chairman of the SACP in KwaZulu-Natal, James Nxumalo, has urged the ANC national leadership to intervene in branch general meetings “before lives are lost”.

The former eThekwini mayor and ANC chairperson in eThekwini, the party’s largest region, said the situation was stable in his hometown, Inchanga, for now, but warned that if nothing was done to curb the brewing tensions between warring ANC and SACP factions, chaos would erupt.

“Our major concern is that some, mostly SACP members, were blocked from attending branch general meetings. We are pleading with the ANC national leadership to attend to this situation as a matter of urgency because it will have undesired consequences,” he warned.

A spike in killings in the province are believed to be politically motivated and has led to the Moerane commission investigating the deaths. The commission has heard that 11 people were killed in Inchanga before and after the municipal elections in August last year.

Inchanga attracted attention before the local government elections when comrade turned against comrade. Nxumalo’s son, Wandile, dodged a bullet while with SACP leader Nontsikelelo Blose, who was shot dead at a tavern.

Nxumalo’s nephew Malombo Nxumalo dumped the ANC in Inchanga and contested the municipal elections as an independent candidate and subsequently won Ward 4 from the ANC.

Nxumalo said the ANC’s constitution explicitly stated that every member in good standing must be invited to branch meetings of the party. He said this was not the case when the ANC held what he called “secret meetings”.

“I also sit on the ANC meetings, but last week we heard through people that a branch general meeting had been convened. We had no idea that it had been planned.”

Branch general meetings are held to nominate candidates for the ANC’s elective conference in December.

The national leadership of the SACP has issued a mandate to all its regions to endorse Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as their preferred candidate to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader.

The ANC leadership in KZN is campaigning for former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for the top job.

Nxumalo and his allies, including former premier Senzo Mchunu, were believed to be actively campaigning for Ramaphosa.

Despite admitting to the SACP being in an “abusive relationship”, Nxumalo insisted that the party would not "divorce" the ANC.

A similar stance was taken by the national SACP leadership amid speculation that the party would ditch the alliance after Minister of Higher of Education and Training Blade Nzimande was fired by Zuma in a reshuffle if his Cabinet earlier this month.

“We cannot leave the ANC because of a few individuals," Nxumalo said. "The ANC is a broad organisation and doesn’t belong to anyone. We will stay in the ANC, SACP, Sanco and Cosatu alliance.”

Nxumalo, who stepped down as eThekwini mayor after the municipal polls, said he was now working full-time as SACP provincial chairperson.

He dismissed claims that he had not attended meetings since he was appointed as commissioner of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial planning commission in August.

“I attend meetings, which are held once a month,” he said.

The planning commission ensured full alignment of the provincial growth and development strategy and plan with the National Development Plan.

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said the ANC’s national executive committee had been negligent and reckless in handling issues of gatekeeping.

“He (Nxumalo) is quite correct the branch general meetings are further dividing the organisation, instead of healing the fractured ANC. But I put the blame squarely at the door of the national executive committee. They don’t want to intervene because they are also part of the factions.”

Khumalo said it was the opportune time for the SACP to leave the alliance and stand on its own.

“If I were to advise them, I would tell them to leave the sinking ship which is the ANC,” he said.

He also cautioned the ANC leadership that if it did not intervene “blood is bound to flow”.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

Sunday Tribune