The Citizen (Gauteng)

Power shift in KZN as ANC leadership cosies up to Ramaphosa

- Eric Naki

Former president Jacob Zuma should be worried that the ANC leadership in KwaZulu-Natal is cosying up to Cyril Ramaphosa in a move that could leave the former out in the cold in his home base.

The KZN provincial executive committee (PEC) took a firm stance about which direction their loyalty was shifting as they try to shake off the “Zuma boys” image. But, despite the clear signs, it’s still too early to conclusive­ly say if Ramaphosa had a steady grip on the province.

Yesterday, the KZN PEC, through provincial spokesman Nhlakaniph­o Ntombela reiterated its strong support for the step-aside rule and reaffirmed its backing for the suspension of party secretary-general Ace Magashule.

Ntombela dismissed the position of the ANC’s Curnick Ndlovu ANC zonal representa­tive Simiso Mkhize that eThekwini branches had asked for the stepaside policy to be halted for the time being.

Mkhize claimed on behalf of the branches that they were not consulted as the province, branches and subregions on the step-aside, despite Ramaphosa’s promise that all structures would be consulted. He said the branches had written to the ANC NEC to reverse the step-aside until consultati­on was finished.

But Ntombela rejected Mkhize’s statement, saying he was not representi­ng or mandated by eThekwini branches because “there were no branches in eThekwini”.

He said despite the claims by some that eThekwini had 86 branches, there were only 16 branches which were recently revived. But none of those branches had called for the halting of the step-aside decision.

“If you know how the ANC works, a zone is a coordinati­ng structure that has no powers. A zone can’t take any decision or speak on behalf of the branches because it has no constituti­onal standing to pronounce on policy matters and they have no executive powers as a coordinati­ng structure,” Ntombela said.

He said the claim that eThekwini branches were against the step-aside was unfounded.

“There are no structures of eThekwini who took a position that is divergent. There is one position in KZN, which is the same as articulate­d by the NEC, myself as a spokesman or the provincial secretary. There has been no contradict­ion in what we say on this matter,” Ntombela said.

Ramaphosa is making serious inroads into Zuma stronghold­s and indication­s were clear that KZN, the biggest province by membership at the last national conference, was slipping from the Zuma’s grip. If Zuma ever bore the thought of marginalis­ing Ramaphosa in the province, he was in for a huge surprise. The KZN leadership recently gave Ramaphosa morale-boosting support when they accompanie­d him to campaign in the April by-elections at Hammersdal­e outside Durban and later attended a PEC meeting.

He was accompanie­d by ANC provincial chair Sihle Zikalala, eThekwini regional chair Zandile Gumede and ANC NEC member Nocawe Mafu.

Although Gumede was suspended by the PEC for corruption charges, she, unlike Magashule, did not defy the order.

Similarly, party provincial deputy chair Mike Mabuyakhul­u voluntaril­y stepped aside twice, having been reinstated by the provincial integrity committee after showing remorse for his corruption charges.

He stepped aside a second time when the NEC set a 30-day deadline for all members facing charges to step aside, a move that was commended by the ANC provincial and national leaders.

With Ramaphosa welcomed with open arms in KZN, it remains to be seen whether Magashule and Zuma would still be able to attract the usual massive crowds in the province.

A zone can’t take any decision

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