KwaZulu-Natal ‘rebels’ re­ject Zuma’s olive branch

MK coun­cil warns of bid to scup­per ANC elec­tive con­fer­ence

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

An in­ter­ven­tion by the ANC’s top brass has done lit­tle to bridge di­vi­sions be­tween war­ring fac­tions in KwaZulu-Natal.

The so-called rebel group, which re­cently suc­cess­fully chal­lenged the out­come of the party’s 2015 pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence in the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court, is not con­vinced that na­tional lead­ers have done enough to foster unity in KwaZulu-Natal.

The court ruled on Septem­ber 12 that the con­fer­ence which elected Sihle Zikalala as pro­vin­cial chair­per­son, oust­ing Senzo Mchunu, was un­law­ful and void. The pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (PEC) said it would ap­peal against the rul­ing.

A marathon meet­ing was held on Mon­day, dur­ing which se­nior ANC of­fi­cials – with the ex­cep­tion of sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe – met rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the group. It in­cluded coun­cil­lor Lawrence Dube – who had been the face of the le­gal bat­tle – as well as for­mer eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and Mchunu.

City Press heard from sev­eral peo­ple who were in the meet­ing that Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma was the pic­ture of hu­mil­ity. He ap­par­ently apol­o­gised pro­fusely to the group for the role of the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) and other of­fi­cials in sow­ing di­vi­sions in the prov­ince, by fail­ing to ad­e­quately ad­dress the group’s griev­ances.

Zuma is said to have called for a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to the im­passe which has deeply di­vided his home prov­ince, once his solid sup­port base.

The rebel group, how­ever, were not moved by the meet­ing or the olive branch Zuma ex­tended. They said the NEC’s de­ci­sion to en­dorse the PEC’s ap­peal against the high court rul­ing, and to al­low the struc­ture to con­tinue op­er­at­ing, dis­re­garded their po­si­tion yet again.

Dube told City Press that, at the very least, they had ex­pected the PEC to be dis­solved pend­ing the ap­peal. He said they would op­pose the com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sion and seek an en­force­ment or­der from the high court.

“We are not go­ing to lie down, they can for­get about that. We want that ex­e­cu­tion or­der,” said Dube, who was an ap­pli­cant in the case.

The of­fi­cials were joined in the meet­ing by NEC mem­bers in­clud­ing Joe Phaahla, Nomvula Mokonyane and Mil­dred Oliphant.

The fight in KwaZulu-Natal has di­vided NEC mem­bers and be­come a proxy war be­tween those who are for and against Zuma.

Sup­port­ers of the PEC have thrown their weight be­hind pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma while those in favour of the ousted Mchunu have criss-crossed the prov­ince to lobby for Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa.

City Press un­der­stands that af­ter Zuma’s lengthy apol­ogy, the group aired their griev­ances with the na­tional lead­ers. They raised is­sues stem­ming from the 2015 pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence.

These in­cluded un­hap­pi­ness with a pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive reshuf­fle which fol­lowed the con­fer­ence and which saw the purg­ing of those aligned to Mchunu, in­clud­ing Mabuyakhulu, for­mer pro­vin­cial agri­cul­ture MEC Cyril Xaba,

for­mer ed­u­ca­tion MEC Peggy Nkonyeni and for­mer eThek­wini mayor James Nx­u­malo.

Two peo­ple who were at the meet­ing told City Press that Mchunu ar­rived armed with a doc­u­ment, al­legedly writ­ten by the PEC at the time of his oust­ing, out­lin­ing why he was be­ing re­moved from the post. Mchunu lamented never hav­ing had the chance to de­fend him­self against the al­le­ga­tions con­tained in the doc­u­ment.

The ANC’s of­fi­cials said they would re­spond to the group, but did not say by when.

Some had ex­pected the NEC to an­nounce the PEC’s dis­so­lu­tion. How­ever, its en­dorse­ment of the ap­peal led some party mem­bers to con­clude that the rebels had run out of op­tions and that those cam­paign­ing for Ramaphosa had suf­fered a setback. How­ever, spokesper­son for the group that took the PEC to court, Sthem­biso Mshengu, dis­missed this. He said re­ports that they had been threat­ened with ex­pul­sion from the ANC were un­true.

“We were warmly re­ceived and at no point were any threats made against us. From where we are, our mis­sion to get the ANC back on track is mov­ing with­out any ma­jor prob­lems,” Mshengu said this week. He said Ramaphosa’s cam­paign had gained mo­men­tum and it would leave those who claimed to rep­re­sent branches stunned. This was in ref­er­ence to state­ments by some PEC mem­bers that the prov­ince was united be­hind Dlamini-Zuma.

TALK TO US What will it take for ANC mem­bers in the prov­ince to unite for the good of the party?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word FAC­TIONS and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50 On Fri­day, for­mer deputy pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe made light of be­ing the key­note speaker at the two-day Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) na­tional coun­cil con­fer­ence, or­gan­ised by a par­al­lel struc­ture to the MK Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans’ As­so­ci­a­tion (MKMVA), de­spite the fact that the ANC did not sanc­tion the event. “We have been in­vited and ... it is in our in­ter­est for the vet­er­ans to come to­gether as one,” Mot­lanthe told City Press. And, he joked, “you can see there are no chairs fly­ing”.

Among other ANC lu­mi­nar­ies at­tend­ing the event, held at Nas­rec in Jo­han­nes­burg, were Hu­man Set­tle­ments Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu, na­tional coun­cil of prov­inces chair­per­son Thandi Modise, for­mer so­cial de­vel­op­ment min­is­ter Zola Sk­weyiya and Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said he had been cau­tioned that at­tend­ing the MK coun­cil con­fer­ence would be seen as fac­tional. “My re­tort was that I have never been fac­tional in my life. I have al­ways known and un­der­stood that the task of a leader is to do as much as pos­si­ble to unite var­i­ous views.”

Ramaphosa ac­knowl­edged Mot­lanthe, say­ing he was fol­low­ing in his footsteps be­cause “his pres­ence here does not mean he is fac­tional”.

The more than 700 con­fer­ence del­e­gates heard speak­ers com­plain about the “bo­gus” con­fer­ence in June, which saw Kebby Maphat­soe be­ing elected the MKMVA’s pres­i­dent; about how Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma had been two-faced in en­dors­ing that con­fer­ence; and about how the ANC na­tional work­ing com­mit­tee had in­sulted the ANC vet­er­ans and stal­warts, who had called for a na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence to res­cue the party from its loss of moral author­ity and elec­toral sup­port.

On Fri­day, the con­fer­ence re­solved to “an­nul the bo­gus, il­le­git­i­mate MKMVA con­fer­ence” and wanted “charges pressed against those who em­bez­zled ... by fund­ing the now-an­nulled il­le­git­i­mate con­fer­ence” – in­clud­ing of­fi­cials in the depart­ment of mil­i­tary vet­er­ans, which with­drew its fund­ing for the coun­cil con­fer­ence at the last minute, ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil’s steer­ing com­mit­tee.

Steer­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber Siphiwe Nyanda said the de­ci­sion to go ahead with that MKMVA con­fer­ence ap­peared to be part of a plan to main­tain the sta­tus quo in the ANC top lead­er­ship, and warned that some peo­ple might want to en­sure that the De­cem­ber ANC con­fer­ence, “where Zuma will step down and hand over to a new leader, would col­lapse”.

The con­fer­ence’s com­mis­sion on or­gan­i­sa­tional re­newal gave a damn­ing re­port on the state of the ANC, say­ing the party’s branches were cor­rupt and “not dead, but suf­fi­ciently alive”.

The com­mis­sion also noted that there was no po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship: “The ANC is po­lit­i­cally fee­ble com­pared with what we were at our peak.”

Del­e­gates called for the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to re­sign be­fore De­cem­ber’s con­fer­ence and for an in­terim com­mit­tee to or­gan­ise it.

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