DURBAN - Divisions within the KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress (ANC) were again visible on Friday, as a faction within the party openly called for fresh provincial elections while claiming the national body was deliberately working against a group aligned to former state and party president Jacob Zuma.

Around 1 000 people dressed in ANC regalia -- many bearing the face of Zuma -- converged on the ANC’s Durban provincial office to hand over a memorandum in order to “make our anger known” to the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

Speaker after speaker representing the women’s league, youth league and military veterans in the eThekwini region took to the microphone positioned on a bakkie, with a sticker on the door reading “hands off Zuma”, reiterating their memorandum of demands.

The speakers at the march, which also became a rally for pro-Zuma supporters, attacked senior ANC leader and Police Minister Bheki Cele, who is a member of the eThekwini region.

They claimed Cele was to blame for the delays in holding a provincial elective conference and used the police to support his faction. 

They called for him to be disciplined because of his multiple public negative statements about Zuma.

The party has been split into two factions since 2015. One camp backs current state and ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and his proxies such as the SACP and former ANC provincial chairman and former KZN premier Senzo Mchunu. 

That faction gathered on Monday calling for the postponement of the provincial elective conference, claiming they are being barred from branch meetings or registering as members in good standing.

The other group supported former African Union commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for party president in December 2017 at the national elective conference and support Zuma as well as Sihle Zikalala.

Zikalala was the provincial ANC leader until January when the NEC suspended the leadership after the Pietermaritzburg High Court found that the November 2015 KZN elective conference, won by Zikalala against Mchunu, was null and void.

An interim structure was set up and co-led by Zikalala with Ramaphosa-backer Mike Mabuyakhulu. Their mandate was to host a provincial election by the end of April, but they failed to accomplish that task.   

Speaking on behalf of the marchers, Mzomuhle Dube said that 70 percent of branches were ready -- the minimum threshold to host an elective conference --and reiterated that Cele was central to the delays, adding there was a ploy afoot to “create a vacuum [in KZN] so that decisions could not be taken”.

The other demands were that the NEC stop recognising “parallel structures” or people “who are non-ANC members”; that the NEC leadership “stop sending contradictory messages” with all communications only to come from the office of the secretary general Ace Magashule; that the NEC stops “attending and addressing branch programmes without going through the regional executive committee”; that NEC members be disciplined for “insulting leadership in public”; and that the “purging of ANC members must stop, now”.

African News Agency/ANA