Zuma loy­al­ists ‘crossed the line’ at trial – an­a­lyst

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - KAILENE PILLAY

THE signs of deep di­vi­sions among the pro­vin­cial struc­tures of the ANC in Kwazu­lu­na­tal were dis­played when lead­ers showed their sup­port for for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and de­fied their party rules out­side the Dur­ban High Court last week.

Among them were high-rank­ing lead­ers who stood side-by-side and shared the podium with Zuma, the Black First Land First (BLF) move­ment and rad­i­cal prozuma group­ings ad­dress­ing thou­sands of sup­port­ers who bla­tantly ig­nored the ANC ban on wear­ing the party’s re­galia at the court ap­pear­ance.

The ANC’S in­terim KZN co-or­di­na­tor, Sihle Zikalala, in­tro­duced Zuma to the crowd out­side the court after his case was post­poned to June.

KZN pre­mier Wil­lies Mchunu, ethek­wini mayor Zandile Gumede and ANC ethek­wini re­gion sec­re­tary Bheki Ntuli were among the well-known faces that shared the podium.

Talk of Zuma gun­ning for the pro­vin­cial chair­per­son spot fil­tered through while sup­port­ers said they would back his nom­i­na­tion for pro­vin­cial lead­er­ship.

The party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee told mem­bers they could at­tend pro­ceed­ings and show sup­port but should do so in their per­sonal ca­pac­ity and re­frain from wear­ing ANC re­galia or bring­ing the party into dis­re­pute.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Ralph Mathekga said the pro­vin­cial lead­ers showed a strong de­fi­ance and had em­bar­rassed the na­tional lead­er­ship con­sid­er­ing the ANC had is­sued a di­rec­tive about con­duct and dress at Zuma’s court ap­pear­ance.

“The greater nar­ra­tive is that there is a bat­tle for the ANC and KZN is be­com­ing cen­tral to that. It is wor­ry­ing to see how KZN can cause such a prob­lem in the ANC,” Mathekga said.

Zikalala was not avail­able for com­ment as he was in meet­ings, and calls to Mchunu and Gumede went unan­swered.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Tha­bani Khu­malo said the se­nior po­lit­i­cal of­fi­cials at the court were within their rights to of­fer their com­rade sup­port but they crossed the line when they chose to share the podium with “con­tro­ver­sial groups and the op­po­si­tion, BLF”.

“It was wrong of them to stand in front and ad­dress a de­fi­ant crowd. To share the stage with such con­tro­ver­sial groups and BLF, it sent a wrong mes­sage. To me it said they weren’t there for Zuma, but be­yond Zuma,” Khu­malo said.

He said their pres­ence on the podium spoke vol­umes, and the NEC needed to take note. Khu­malo said if the NEC read into their mes­sage they would find that the ANC in KZN was in des­per­ate need of unity.

“I don’t think each mem­ber needs to be pun­ished but rather, in ac­cor­dance with the man­date dis­cussed at the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence, the new lead­er­ship needs to bring unity in the prov­ince. The ANC needs to dis­band all its struc­tures in the prov­ince and start again,” he said.

De­scrib­ing the crowd as “de­fi­ant”, Khu­malo said those sup­port­ers em­anated from the “con­fused” and “rot­ten” struc­tures that needed to be de­stroyed and re­built. He said the re­cent in­ci­dent in the Moses Mab­hida re­gion, where ten­sions were laid bare this week, could be re­peated in other re­gions in KZN.

In the Moses Mab­hida re­gion, mem­bers of the pro­cyril Ramaphosa group tried to force their way into a con­sul­ta­tive meet­ing in How­ick, only to be stopped by armed body­guards. The video of the in­ci­dent went vi­ral, prompt­ing Zikalala to call for an ur­gent meet­ing with all 11 re­gions as the in­fight­ing in the prov­ince threat­ened to scup­per the party’s plans for next year’s na­tional elec­tions.

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