Wranglings over ANC eThekwini vote
Durban - Factions aligned to defeated eThekwini ANC leader Zandile Gumede have effectively accused her rivals of stealing the elections.
The complainants said they had lodged a grievance with ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday, accusing the party’s provincial leadership of having used three “illegitimate” wards to help mayor James Nxumalo get elected regional chairman.
The conference, in which Nxumalo won a fiercely contested race against Gumede, took place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre at the weekend.
A source aligned to Gumede said the ANC provincial working committee (PWC) had taken a decision to allow delegates from the three branches to vote despite Mantashe’s instruction not to do so.
The wards that should not have participated are Ward 16 (Pinetown area), Ward 30 (Mayville/Sherwood) and Ward 74 (Lamontville).
“The ANC PWC decision to include wards 16, 30 and 74 in the conference, having failed a national audit, is not in line with the ANC constitution, principle and culture,” read a letter which Gumede’s supporters addressed to Mantashe.
The letter said the provincial working committee decision to “selectively include some branches who failed the national audit and exclude other branches caused the 6th ANC eThekwini regional conference to be procedurally flawed”. The letter also asked Mantashe to declare the conference null and void.
The source said the wards had during their general meetings nominated Nxumalo, but the party’s audit committee later found that they did not properly meet.
They sent 22 delegates to the conference, where Gumede was defeated by just 14 votes.
The Mercury is in possession of a letter, dated February 11, which Mantashe wrote to provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala instructing the province not to allow the branches to participate in the conference.
“While we acknowledge and note all circumstances leading to the audit of these branches, it is our view that granting them a qualified status to send voting delegates to the regional conference, despite the audit outcomes, will set a wrong and dangerous precedent for the organisation.
“We sincerely convey our deepest apology that our office could not accede to your request,” read the letter.
The aggrieved parties wrote to Mantashe on Tuesday. However, Zikalala told The Mercury on Thursday that the provincial leadership had explained to the delegates why Mantashe’s order was ignored.
When Mantashe was contacted on Thursday, he said: “I don’t get a report about the conference from The Mercury. I get it from the province in writing. That report has not come to me.”
Zikalala was unimpressed that Mantashe’s letter had been leaked to the media. But he acknowledged that there was an issue.
“The issue about the three wards was explained during the conference by us as the leadership of the province, and it was accepted by the conference itself,” he said.
He said leaking the letter to the media was an attempt to discredit the conference.
“The conference was credible, attended by legitimate delegates from those branches. The status of those branches and their disqualification and their participation was explained and accepted by the whole conference.”
However, aggrieved ANC members said Gumede’s supporters did not accept it.
“The issue was discussed by the PWC prior to the conference, and there was disagreement. This led to voting, and Sihle and his supporters were outvoted,” said a source.
When contacted about the outcome of the conference early this week, Gumede said she had accepted it but would raise her unhappiness in party structures.
Delivering the opening address for the conference on Saturday, the ANC provincial chairman, Premier Senzo Mchunu, told delegates the provincial leadership had taken a decision that would leave them unhappy. He said that decision was in the interest of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. But he did not dwell on what the decision was about.
“We are ready to defend those decisions. We took those decisions in the interest of the organisation. We took them collectively and none of us as the provincial leadership were out of decisions that we took,” Mchunu told the delegates.