Zuma loyalists ‘crossed the line’ at trial – analyst
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.