How the Jacob Zuma factor derailed Cyril Ramaphosa’s KZN peace pact

Former president Jacob Zuma.
Former president Jacob Zuma.

Jacob Zuma has emerged as the key instigator in the events that led to the cancellation of the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal elective conference on Friday.

The former president sank a settlement deal between warring factions in the province. The deal would have seen agreement on a “zebra list” for provincial leadership.

The conference was interdicted from proceeding on Friday because of an application by a group believed to be aligned to Ramaphosa, after the collapse of the deal and renewed distrust between the factions.

It set back weeks of work to resolve years of hostility, as well as high-level efforts to reduce volatility and political killings.

Head of the presidency in the ANC Zizi Kodwa confirmed that Ramaphosa had held meetings with provincial leaders to “build unity and assist them to work together”.

“He wanted to ensure an outcome that must be acceptable to all sides, not a winner-takes-all situation,” said Kodwa.

Following Zuma’s ominous warning this week that he should not be “provoked”, he instructed a group of ANC leaders led by head of the provincial task team Sihle Zikalala to withdraw from the settlement deal. Zuma wanted the KwaZulu-Natal leadership that was elected at the nullified November 2015 conference to be re-elected. He particularly wanted his fierce ally, Super Zuma, to keep the provincial secretary post.

The “zebra list” negotiated by the two factions would have seen Zikalala being elected unopposed as provincial chairman and Ramaphosa backer Mike Mabuyakhulu becoming deputy chairman or provincial treasurer. Former provincial spokesman Mdumiseni Ntuli was earmarked for the provincial secretary position.

Read the full story in the Sunday Times.