Cyril Ramaphosa’s KZN presidential campaign lobbyists Vukani Mdabe and Sthembiso Mshengu at a press conference in Durban on Monday. PHOTO: ANA

Durban - African National Congress members in KwaZulu-Natal have disputed numbers released last week that indicate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is streaking ahead of Cyril Ramaphosa in the province in the race for the ruling party’s presidency.  
The so-called ANC rebels – who are the official Ramaphosa campaign lobbyists in the province – said at a press briefing in Durban on Monday that their figures indicated they had secured 157 branch votes in the province for Ramaphosa.
This doesn’t tally with the numbers released last week by provincial executive committee (PEC) members, who said their figures indicated that of the branches that had voted, 260 were in favour of Dlamini-Zuma while only 69 had voted for Ramaphosa. The province has 806 branches. 
“We have had three weeks of branch nominations in the province and are delighted of the positive outcome, especially in the regions like Far North, Abaqulusi, Inkosi Bhambatha and Emalahleni,” said Sthembiso Mshengu, spokesperson for the Ramaphosa campaign in the province.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s KZN presidential campaign lobbyists Vukani Mdabe and Sthembiso Mshengu at a press conference in Durban on Monday. VIDEO: ANA

 “It must be noted though that in regions like eThekwini, Moses Mabhida and Harry Gwala we have seen unprecedented acts of hooliganism and outright fraud in the branch general meetings where members with valid membership are removed from the roll of members,” he said.
According to Mshengu, guidelines were not followed and deployees had not adhered to procedural matters such as branch chairpersons presiding over the nominating process. The fifty plus one rule had also been abandoned at some meetings, he said. “In many of these branches we have lodged grievances with the electoral commission.”
Mshengu and former Ilembe mayor, Vukani Mdabe, who is the convenor of Ramaphosa’s campaign in the province, also disagreed with the number of disputes allegedly lodged by branches.
Mdabe said that their figures showed 80 branches had thus far lodged disputes with the ANC’s dispute resolution committee, a body made up of national executive committee members.
Last week, PEC members told journalists that one official dispute had been lodged. Later, provincial secretary Super Zuma said seven had been lodged.
According to Mshengu and Mdabe, the disputes were not sent to the “illegitimate PEC”, but instead were lodged at branch, regional and national level and with the electoral commission.
ANC MP Naledi Pandor, who is also the country’s science and technology minister, is the convenor of the dispute resolution committee in KwaZulu-Natal. On Sunday, Ramaphosa named Pandor as his pick for deputy ANC president come the December national conference.
Ramaphosa’s lobbyists will be back in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on November 13 to challenge an appeal by the PEC against the court ruling that found the party’s provincial conference held in 2015 was unlawful and invalid.
At that conference, Sihle Zikalala was elected ANC KZN chairman, beating opponent and then incumbent Senzo Mchunu. Mchunu was announced as Ramaphosa’s pick for the party’s secretary general on Sunday.