It's ANC vs ANC as KZN tells its bosses to back off

13 September 2017 - 17:03 By Nathi Olifant And Matthew Savides
A file photo of the ANC flag.
A file photo of the ANC flag.
Image: Stephanie de Sakutin

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal looks set for a battle royale against its parent body as the fallout over Tuesday's court case continued on Wednesday afternoon‚ threatening to tear apart an already fractured province.

The party's national executive committee (NEC) said in the wake of the court decision - which ruled that the ANC KZN 2015 conference was unlawfully constituted and its elected officials invalid‚ effectively rendering the province leaderless and in disarray - that it would step in and decide whether it would allow their provincial counterparts to appeal.

At the same time‚ former KZN Premier‚ treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize‚ said the provincial body had to "submit" to the NEC‚ which would "take responsibility" for the situation.

But at a heated media conference on Wednesday‚ the surprisingly powerful ANC Youth League stopped just short of telling the NEC‚ and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe in particular‚ to back off.

Flanked by the party's women’s and veteran’s leagues‚ as well as regional leaders‚ the Youth League threw its full weight behind the provincial executive committee (PEC) despite their legitimacy being nullified by the Pietermaritzburg High Court just over 24 hours earlier.

ANCYL provincial chair Kwazi Mshengu said the decision to appeal the judgment had nothing to do with the NEC - and that the national body had left the PEC to fend for itself by being absent during the case.

"It's unfair for the NEC or the SG [Mantashe] to now come and say the decision to appeal lay with them. The PEC battled this case alone and not even one member of the NEC came to court to support the PEC. It's strange. They had expressed the confidence in the PEC being taken to court. They should continue with the same confidence when the PEC appeals‚" he said.

A more vocal Thanduxolo Sabelo‚ the ANCYL KZN secretary‚ called Mantashe's utterances disingenuous. But he believes that the case is about more than what happens in KZN‚ saying that it was all about influencing the national conference in December in favour of Cyril Ramaphosa. "These comrades are not even contesting the provincial conference. They know there's no space to contest. All regions here if there ever would be a conference they will re-elect Sihle [Zikalala] as chair and comrade Super [Zuma] as secretary‚" he said. "These comrades are contesting the national conference. If you can see the former provincial chair‚ Senzo Mchunu‚ he's up and down the entire country addressing chairs in Limpopo and Free State‚" said Sabelo.

At the 2015 conference‚ Zikalala defeated former chair Senzo Mchunu for the top position. Mchunu has come out strongly backing Ramaphosa‚ while Zikalala and his slate have backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The Youth League said that the so-called "rebels" - comprising of some 43 branches who claimed the 2015 conference should not have gone ahead and its outcomes not have been accepted due to various irregularities - simply wanted to cause instability in KZN. This had the potential to‚ in turn‚ result in fewer delegates from KZN attending the December national conference‚ a move which could be a hammer blow to Dlamini-Zuma's presidential ambitions.

Earlier on Wednesday Mkhize said it was vital for the NEC to take matters into its own hands. This as Mantashe confirmed the NEC would meet with the PEC before the end of the week over the appeal.

"What's important now is that if we do not manage this process it may create a persistence of tensions and instability and a leadership that remains questionable. It's important for the national leadership to get involved and try to resolve this issue.

"At the core of this are the divisions inside the province. We need to address that issue…and understand that the issues are largely political and the leadership has to submit themselves to an intervention by the national leadership. As national leadership we are prepared to take responsibly for resolving this issue‚" he said.

Meanwhile‚ the leagues also rubbished the possibility of the December conference being delayed by the decision. This despite Mkhize admitting that there was a "real concern" that a delay was possible.

"But it's a concern that the leadership is taking into account‚" he said.f