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Sunday Times STLive By Sibongakonke Shoba , 2012-04-08

Battle looms over top ANC post in KZN

A fierce leadership battle is brewing in the KwaZulu-Natal ANC ahead of the party's elective conference next month.

Although the party has agreed on retaining chairman Zweli Mkhize, it has emerged that there is strong opposition to provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala's re-election.

Insiders say the campaign to remove Zikalala is gaining momentum. Led by Cosatu, it has identified the trade union federation's provincial secretary Zet Luzipo as a potential challenger to Zikalala.

The campaign is said to have support from those who did not make it onto the list of ANC candidates last year. "All those who did not come back as councillors believe Sihle dealt with them by not fighting their cause. They feel aggrieved," said one provincial leader.

Zikalala is also accused of taking sides during regional leadership squabbles.

Contacted for comment this week, Zikalala said: "I don't comment on leadership issues."

Luzipo did not confirm or deny he was eyeing Zikalala's post. "I can't talk about processes of the ANC. I will only answer to the ANC."

A document prepared by the Luzipo lobby claims that he has support in the Sisonke region, which includes Kokstad, and the far north. His lobbyists say efforts are being made to sway other regions, including eMalahleni (Newcastle), Bhambata and the North Coast in his favour. "eThekwini will be divided between Sihle and Zet," reads the document.

However, his backers admit that Luzipo has flaws. He is accused of being involved in tenders. "ANC comrades are privately raising that issue whenever he speaks against corruption and tenderpreneurship," says the document.

The issue was raised by Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi at the last shop stewards' council meeting.

Luzipo confirmed Vavi did speak about the matter but denied any involvement in business. "If someone made money using my name, I want my cut," he said.

Luzipo has been provincial secretary of Cosatu since 2003. Some within Cosatu say he has overstayed his welcome. "He no longer inspires confidence. There is a push that he must go," said one trade union leader.