KZN elective conference vote deals blow to Jacob Zuma
Two leading backers fail to win election to province's top five
Jacob Zuma's grip on KwaZulu-Natal was loosened yesterday when some of his staunch backers failed to make it into the ANC top leadership in the province.
One of them, Super Zuma, was defeated in voting at the party's elective conference by Mdumiseni Ntuli, who had the backing of the province's youth league.
Another Zuma ally, premier Willies Mchunu, lost to Mike Mabuyakhulu, who was aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa's campaign last year.
Although Sihle Zikalala was re-elected unopposed as provincial chairman, insiders said Super Zuma's defeat in the contest for provincial secretary was a setback for the former president, who was hoping for the province's full backing ahead of his corruption trial.
"This is all about power," said a provincial leader who asked not to be named."The person who controls the office of the secretary essentially controls the province, because the structures report to you. With Super out of that office, Jacob Zuma's grip on the province has loosened."
The conference outcome, which avoided domination by either of the factions, could help to unify the ANC in the province. It has been divided along Zuma-Ramaphosa lines since Ramaphosa first showed an interest in succeeding Zuma as national leader.
Zuma's supporters in KwaZulu-Natal backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the top job.
A series of meetings took place behind closed doors ahead of the conference this weekend in an attempt to ease divisions.
Insiders said party secretary-general Ace Magashule tried to broker a deal that would have seen Super Zuma withdraw from the race, allowing Ntuli to be elected unopposed. However, that initiative was rejected.
"He was given a choice to be deputy chair or deputy secretary. Let Ntuli be secretary and you can be deployed in government; and the other option was that they both don't contest. He still refused," the source in the leadership said.
"You have people who are direct beneficiaries of him being secretary. When you remove him, those people see that as a fight."According to the source, eThekwini regional secretary Bheki Ntuli delivered the conference for Mdumiseni Ntuli. They both come from the KwaXimba branch in Cato Ridge, the biggest ANC branch in terms of membership.
CONGRATS FROM RAMAPHOSA
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs, stood unopposed for the provincial treasurer post.
Another youth league-backed candidate, Sipho Hlomuka, was elected as deputy secretary, beating Mluleki Ndobe and Bongi Sithole-Moloi. Hlomuka was regional secretary of Ukhahlamba region, which includes Ladysmith.
Ramaphosa congratulated the ANC in the province on holding a successful conference. Addressing the conference at the Durban University of Technology, he said those who fared badly in the voting should refrain from heading to court, as losing candidates have previously done.
"We need to approach the question of unity because the ANC is going to force you to embrace each other," Ramaphosa said."You did not choose to be put together like this but your task is to work together. You have been given a mandate by the ANC and we must be able to work together, even develop love for each other."
Meanwhile in Gauteng, premier David Makhura was elected unopposed at the ANC's provincial conference in Irene, Pretoria.
A slate aligned to Makhura won most of the positions in the provincial top five yesterday. Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi came out tops against the MEC for economic development and agriculture, Lebogang Maile, with 623 votes to 601.
Makhura's other ally, former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau, won against Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina.
Emfuleni mayor Jacob Khawe and Nomantu Ralehoko, who were elected secretary and deputy secretary respectively, were the only two elected from Maile's slate.
Khawe achieved a landslide victory of 172 votes over Boyce Maneli. Ralehoko beat Rebecca Dikgamela with 664 votes to 555. - Additional reporting by Amil Umraw and Aphiwe Deklerk