President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward. File picture: Supplied

Durban - An ongoing feud between President Jacob Zuma’s eldest son, Edward, and the chairperson of the Msholozi branch in Nkandla, Doctor Bhengu, led to the collapse of last week’s branch general meeting (BGM).

Edward’s backers did not show up because they disputed Bhengu’s election and the meeting collapsed as a quorum could not be achieved.

But Bhengu is confident that his ward, which is known to be behind Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in next month’s ANC electoral conference, will sit for their rescheduled BGM on Sunday.

The ANC has been staging nationwide BGMs to nominate candidates ahead of the national conference.

Edward’s supporters, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they would not attend branch meetings because they did not recognise the current leadership, which they regarded as an illegitimate structure.

“The current leadership is illegitimate and we want fresh elections to take place in the branch. That’s why we will not attend meetings,” said another of Edward’s supporters.

The rift between the two deepened when Bhengu beat Edward to the leadership position of the ward that bears his clan (Msholozi) name in April.  

After losing, Edward lodged an appeal with the provincial leadership to have the branch elections set aside and for fresh elections to take place.

His supporters, who claimed that the party processes were flouted during the April elections, have since vowed to boycott branch meetings until their request for fresh elections is accepted.

One staunch Edward Zuma supporter said: “The branch leadership knows that it stole the elections in April.” Edward’s faction has also raised its discontent with the ANC’s national leadership and has similarly not received a response as yet.

It’s believed that the branch was firmly behind Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to become the ANC’s next president. However, with the presidency race being a numbers game, if the branch failed to successfully convene a BGM before Wednesday’s deadline, it would impact on Dlamini Zuma’s bid for the top position.

The branch also did not deploy any delegates to the party’s policy conference held in July, where policy proposals and directions were debated.  

In April, the branch election in Msholozi turned ugly when supporters of Edward and Bhengu squared up to each other and chaos erupted. Bhengu emerged victorious at the second attempt, leaving Edward’s backers furious.   

Bhengu, who now leads the branch, acknowledged that last week’s BGM had collapsed after Edward’s supporters had boycotted the meeting.

He said his relationship with Edward had turned sour after he defeated him in April.

Despite the snags, Bhengu was confident the BGM, at Mnyakana High School, the president’s voting station, would achieve a quorum today.

He said efforts to mend his broken relationship with Edward had not borne fruit.

“Even the provincial and regional (Musa Dladla region) leadership intervened, but he (Edward) kept dictating terms after he had lost the election.”

Bhengu said the branch would nominate Dlamini Zuma to be the new president in December.

Edward directed all queries to the provincial leadership.

ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma said they were dealing with Edward’s appeal, and declined to give further details.

However, he conceded that the ANC was racing against time, and that the Msholozi branch was not the only branch that had failed to convene its BGM.

SUNDAY TRIBUNE