Mthandeni Dlungwane
Mthandeni Dlungwane

Zumas 'cabal' collapsed by conference differences

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Mar 11, 2020

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Pietermaritzburg - Jostling for positions in the ANC's Moses Mabhida region has collapsed one of the major support blocks for former president Jacob Zuma. 

With the region, which is one of the most influential in the province, now heading for a regional conference, the once-powerful Zuma “cabal” has been left divided. 

Under the leadership of the powerful Zumas (first under Super and later Mzi), the region was instrumental in mobilising support for the ex-president from as early as 2006 and 2007 when he was elected in Polokwane. The region’s unwavering support continued even in 2018 and 2019 when (Jacob) Zuma’s corruption charges were reinstated and supporters were mobilised to attend proceedings when he appeared before the Pietermaritzburg High Court. 

The unexpected collapse of the once solidly united block came to the public gallery last week when a slate led by Mzi Zuma was circulated by party lobbyists ahead of the regional conference. The lobbyists want Mzi to be the next regional chairperson and he has accepted the request which has essentially set him for a collision course with Mthandeni Dlungwane, the former regional chairperson whom at the height of his regional power, was rewarded with the position of MEC for education.

In June 2018 Mzi - fighting to retain his position as regional secretary - was the running mate of Dlungwane, who wanted to be chairperson, when an interdict halted the conference. The move resulted in their supporters vowing that they would re-elect both men to their previous position when the conference is reconvened. The alliance between the two was even labeled “MthaMzi” (a contraction of Mthandeni Dlungwane and Mzi Zuma), as has become popular with celebrity couples. 

Now things have changed. Mzi confirmed to Independent Media on Tuesday that he has accepted the offer to run against Dlungwane. However, he said this was not informed by bad blood but by the need to unite the region. He said their slate is made up of all the factions that were fighting for power in the region in the past. 

Super Zuma

Contrary to assertions that they are all tied to the Zuma clan which has a royal house in Mpendle (which falls under the region), Mzi said they are not related. He said he only learnt that Dlungwane’s mother was a Zuma when they were serving together in the region. 

“We are not blood-related as people claim, it’s merely because we are all Zumas and Mthandeni’s mother is a Zuma. Regarding our past association, it was not informed by any relations but it was because our views converged at the time and we were only working as a team,” he said.

Dlungwane did not respond to questions sent to him and ignored calls about the matter.  

Also dragged into the fight is Super Zuma, the former KZN provincial secretary who for the longest time, commanded the region, first as deputy regional secretary in 2006. Super would later rise to become regional chairperson in 2012. Those in the region says he still holds sway so much that in the battle between Mzi and Dlungwane, he has decided to side with the latter. Also in the picture is Thobani Zuma, the former deputy mayor of Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) who is also said to be backing Dlungwane, leaving Mzi to be on his own. 

When called about this, Super said he was now focused on his role as a provincial executive committee member. He said as a branch member in the region, he will only back the person backed by his branch.

“I will follow what my branch says as a member… Remember that this is a conference of branches,” he said. 

Thobani, who commands support in Pietermaritzburg, was evasive. Despite that discussions have officially begun, he said they have not started discussing the issue of leadership positions.

Political Bureau

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