Durban – The incumbent KwaZulu-Natal premier and provincial chairperson of the ANC, Sihle Zikalala, has been left off most of the preliminary slates that are being circulated by lobbyists ahead of the provincial conference in June.
The slates are being used to mobilise support in the six regions, including eThekwini Municipality, which are yet to host their elective conferences.
Noticeably, Zikalala, if the slates eventually stand as they are to the end, will be pitted against senior members of his provincial cabinet such as Nomusa Dube-Ncube and Peggy Nkonyeni.
Dube-Ncube is the current MEC for finance and the provincial treasurer of the ANC. Nkonyeni is a senior cabinet member, holding the transport, community safety and liaison portfolio.
So far there are three dominant slates doing the rounds in ANC branches across the province. One slate wants Dube-Ncube to succeed Zikalala with Nkonyeni elected as her deputy.
In another slate, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda is being punted for Zikalala’s position while Dube-Ncube is lobbied to be his deputy.
In the slate led by Nkonyeni, controversial former mayor of Newcastle and incumbent eMalahleni regional chairperson Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba is touted as her deputy. This is while Zakhele Buthelezi, the current Mzala Nxumalo (Zululand) regional secretary, is touted to replace Mdumiseni Ntuli as provincial secretary.
According to RET (radical economic transformation) lobbyists in the province, Zikalala is being dumped because he is seen to be running with the hare and hunting with the hounds – he is accused of flirting with the CR17 faction and the pro-Zuma RET factions, irking the latter which has no interest in a truce with party president Cyril Ramaphosa and his faction.
Asked by IOL whether he was worried about being left out of the preliminary slates and if he was still keen to retain his position, Zikalala said the ANC had not opened the discussion around leadership issues.
"The ANC has not opened the conference leadership discussion. Secondly, even if the discussion was opened, I don't discuss such issues in the media," Zikalala responded.
Nhlakanipho Ntombela, the provincial spokesperson of the ANC, said the plan was to have all regional conferences concluded by the end of February so that the provincial conference was held in June.
"We are awaiting NEC (National Executive Committee) guidance on that matter as we were due for a conference late this year. Subject to NGC (national general council)/policy conference sitting this June. We still have 6 more regions to go to the conference and until they have sat, then we will be eligible for the provincial conference," Ntombela said.