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Saturday, January 28, 2023

ANC KZN ups ante against Ramaphosa

Johannesburg – The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is gearing up for a show of force this coming week, with plans afoot to stage a series of events that will signal a consolidation of votes between the province, Limpopo and Gauteng behind former health minister Zweli Mkhize.

He has launched a bid to oust President Cyril Ramaphosa as the governing party’s number one. ANC treasurer general Paul Mashatile and Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha will lead several events in KwaZulu-Natal as part of the 16 days of activism campaign launch. The events should be closely monitored for confirmation of Mkhize’s line-up in the ANC leadership race.

“It is an indication of a strong push for both Gauteng and Limpopo party branches to drop Ramaphosa as their preferred candidate,” said a lobbyist.

The three provinces make up part of the top four biggest ANC provinces in terms of membership, including the Eastern Cape. ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Bheki Mtolo said different programmes were under consideration and a formal announcement would be made on Monday.

“(Mashatile) will be doing some visits to some important sites in eThekwini, laying the wreath on the graves of ANC former presidents. Then Mathabatha will deliver the keynote address at that event. Who told you this because this thing is still in the planning stage?” Mtolo asked.

He warned, however, that it may be too early to confirm that the province was no longer abandoning its plan to support Mashatile as the ANC’s number two.

“It is still early days. Negotiations could say that we just need some white guy to be president. Some might come and say the ANC has never had a white president. So let’s produce a white guy. Negotiations have begun, and they are heated.”

An ANC insider credited the party’s provincial executive committee in KwaZulu-Natal for “being visible, outspoken and trying to lead the discourse in the leadership succession race”.

“They met with Mpumalanga, then they came to Gauteng, they met with suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and even met the opposition EFF. Then they had a zoom meeting with Limpopo. Other provinces have only said a word or two here and there.”

The Sunday Independent also learnt that the association of former KwaZulu-Natal ANC secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli and Mashatile’s ally, Nkenke Kekana – also an ANC national executive committee member – had been the source of friction between the two camps. Ntuli will be on the ballot for the position of secretary general in the ANC top six, but his home province preferred public enterprises deputy minister Phumulo Masualle from the Eastern Cape.

Another source of conflict resulted from Mkhize and Masualle not obtaining the expected number of nominations in Limpopo. Mkhize got 81 nominations in Limpopo against Ramaphosa’s 400, while Masualle got 134 nominations against 204 for Ntuli and 86 for transport minister Fikile Mbalula.

A Limpopo ANC insider said “the names of Masualle and Mkhize came when we had started with nominations, so we didn’t want to confuse our branches and give them different names, which would have created confusion and a crack. We decided to let the branches nominate and only let a few nominate Masualle to make sure he is on the ballot,” said the person, adding that the relationship between Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal remained “solid”.

Amid speculation that KwaZulu-Natal was ready to drop Mashatile and instead run with former Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina as their lead face in Gauteng, there were claims that Mashatile could negotiate with justice and constitutional development minister Ronald Lamola for the support of his branches.

Mashatile leads the ANC deputy president candidate nominations with 1 719 votes, followed by Lamola with 421 nominations and Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane with 397 nominations. Out of Mashatile’s total, KwaZulu-Natal contributed 521 nominations.

A Gauteng ally of Mashatile said slate politics were “a thing of the past,” adding that this was confirmed in 2017 at the Nasrec national conference when delegates opted to elect deputy president David Mabuza and Magashule onto Ramaphosa’s winning slate.

However, Mtolo yesterday rejected the suggestion that any candidate could stand for a position on their own, in the absence of identifying or belonging to a particular slate.

He continued: “There is no candidate who is not in slate politics. All of them. Firstly you must align yourself with either Mkhize or Ramaphosa. There is no candidate who is not aligned. All of the candidates”.

At the conference, starting on December 16, “there will be two line-ups,” he said. “The line-ups will start with Ramaphosa down to his treasurer-general, and another one will start with Mkhize, also down to his treasurer-general. There will be caucuses that will be held at the conference. You will have a caucus of Ramaphosa and a caucus of Mkhize“.

“Just ask this candidate, who says they’re independent, who your presidential candidate is. There is no sober person in the ANC who would want to be deputy secretary-general of anybody. That is not a leader. A leader must choose. If I want to be a secretary-general or a chairperson, I would want to serve with a president who shares the same views about the ANC. You cannot want to be secretary-general of anybody. There is no such.”

He said it was “a sign that that person should not be elected”.

“They do not have a backbone. In the top six, we look for people with a backbone. Not someone who will say I want to be the national chairperson, but I want to be the national chairperson of anybody”.

Mtolo said candidates who claimed to be independent were not honest.

“You are dishonest to the movement. Because you are hiding the presidential candidate you support. Maybe you think the place where you received more support does not support that presidential candidate. But in the ANC you are misleading delegates. It is like taking a gamble,” he said.

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