FILE. Former ANC President Jacob Zuma pictured during the party's 54th National Conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg, where he was succeeded as party president by Cyril Ramaphosa. PHOTO: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA Photo

DURBAN – The convenor of the African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal, Mike Mabuyakhulu, has said that calls from members at a Sunday afternoon meeting to nominate former president Jacob Zuma as the party’s provincial chairman, were in the minority.

“I don’t know how you can take one of the senior leaders who has served in almost all of the senior positions and reduce him into a provincial leader. We regard that as the views of some comrades, but again, it was not a popular view. If it was said, it was said by one or two,” Mabuyakhulu told African News Agency (ANA) on Monday.

He was responding to questions regarding a meeting that took place at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday afternoon where National Executive Committee (NEC) members Zweli Mkhize and Barbara Creecy were deployed to explain Zuma’s recall and subsequent resignation to branch leaders.

Mabuyakhulu was not at the meeting but was answering questions in his role of provincial convenor after speaking to those who were present.

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“Those who may have said that are entitled to those views. Comrade Msholozi (Zuma’s clan name) has been a national leader and has played a national role and he can’t be reduced, in our view, to a provincial leader,” said Mabuyakhulu.  

Several ANC members who were at the meeting told ANA that during the tense meeting, some “comrades” had said that they wanted the former president to stand for nomination as chairperson in the party’s upcoming provincial elections.

The KZN ANC has to hold fresh elections by April after the NEC suspended provincial leadership in January. This followed a high court decision that found its 2015 provincial conference at which the leadership was elected to be null and void.

“Those who were in the meeting did explain there was a general expression by members of branches saying that they should have been consulted [before Zuma’s recall],” said Mabuyakhulu 

He said that once it was explained that it was an NEC decision, it was accepted.

Mabuyakhulu said that some calling for the party to hold an early National General Council – where policy recommendations are made – was the view of “a few individuals”. 

“It was not the tone of the members of the whole. It was taken as the opinion of a few members of calling an early NGC, but it was not the general trend."

He also told ANA that the party would not have a problem with the province using Zuma to campaign for the party towards the 2019 national elections.

“Our view as the provincial leadership is that there is a national leadership led by comrade president [Cyril] Ramaphosa. That leadership is the leadership that will lead the campaign of the ANC towards the general election,” he said.

“In that campaign, all ANC leaders, stalwarts and former leaders will also be expected to participate in the campaign, but it will be clearly led by the current president. So if comrade Zuma participates, that won’t be a problem. But what we can’t do as a province is to be seen as doing our own thing outside of the national [leadership],” said Mabuyakhulu.

African News Agency/ANA