Final push for Mchunu to exit KZN government
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu’s term is expected to be cut short this week, with at least four other members of his cabinet set to lose their jobs following a final push to oust him by backers of provincial ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala.
The ANC, both in the province and national, is refusing to confirm or deny the rumour. The tale surfaced on Friday when the party’s provincial working committee (PWC) was meeting to discuss the matter. However, sources close to the provincial leadership told City Press that the public was likely to be officially informed on Tuesday about Mchunu’s possible redeployment at the ANC office in Durban. They said he would be replaced by Zikalala’s deputy and the provincial transport and public safety MEC, Willies Mchunu. The two are not related. He is expected to serve the rest of his predecessor’s term, with Zikalala as chairperson mooted as the ANC’s premier elect in the next national and provincial elections.
Mchunu’s office refused to comment on the reshuffle claims yesterday. The premier was addressing a youth event at the University of Zululand at the time, but he made no mention of the rumours that he was being forced to resign.
Another source, who cannot be named as he has no authority to comment on the matter, told City Press that at least four other MECs – Cyril Xaba for agriculture, Ntombi Sibhidla-Saphetha for arts and culture, Peggy Nkonyeni for education and Mike Mabuyakhulu for economic development – were likely to be removed from the provincial cabinet in terms of proposals discussed at the PWC meeting.
Zikalala is set to replace Mabuyakhulu, while former Pietermaritzburg mayor Bongi Sithole will replace Sibhidla-Saphetha. Nkonyeni will be moved to the provincial legislature to replace current deputy chief whip Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, while Xaba will be replaced with Mthandeni Dlungwana, who will be promoted from the legislature. All of the new nominees were instrumental lobbyists during Zikalala’s battle for provincial chairmanship.
Zikalala’s supporters, particularly the ANC Youth League, have pressed party leaders to redeploy incumbent premier Mchunu before the end of his term following his defeat at the provincial conference in November.
Two other MECs, Belinda Scott for finance and Sibongiseni Dhlomo for health, may also be pushed out but there was no corroboration for this from sources except to say there was no final decision on the matter.
“A lot of the comrades have been appealing for a delay in implementing the proposed changes in the provincial cabinet, at least until after the local government elections. Even those who didn’t want Senzo to finish his term didn’t want a full-scale reshuffle now,” said the source.
He said some argued the provincial leadership was dealing with a lot of fires over the lists for councillors. But others believed it was inevitable and had to happen now rather than later.
“This is going to alienate people. Those who are being purged are not going to want to campaign for the ANC in these elections,” the source lamented.
It is understood that the recommendations of the PWC meeting will be tabled to a special provincial executive committee meeting for ratification, which was meant to take place last night or tomorrow.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli also declined to comment, saying he was only aware of the rumour in circulation from “faceless sources”.
However, he confirmed that there was a media briefing planned “probably” for Tuesday.