KwaZulu-Natal ANC leaderless

Supporters of ousted KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court following the outcome of the court case yesterday
Picture: Khaya Ngwenya

Ramaphosa could benefit from ruling declaring 2015 conference unlawful

While the so-called “ANC rebels” celebrated outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court following a decisive victory against their own party leadership‚ another man‚ several hundred kilometres away‚ would have been quietly smiling to himself.

That man was presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa‚ who could emerge the unlikely beneficiary of yesterday’s ruling which‚ effectively‚ renders the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal leaderless and in disarray.

And with the province among the biggest backers of Ramaphosa’s strongest rival for the party’s top job‚ Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma‚ any instability in KwaZulu-Natal could prove decisive.

This is the view of KwaZulu-Natal political analyst and researcher Thabani Khumalo‚ speaking in the wake of a ruling by Judge Jerome Mnguni that the ANC’s 2015 provincial elective conference was unlawful.

The ruling renders the election of the party’s top five‚ and of the other 25 members of the provincial executive committee‚ null and void – effectively overturning their election and leaving the party rudderless.

The ruling came after complaints were lodged by a faction supporting ousted chairman and KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu‚ who lost to Sihle Zikalala in a bitter and bruising internal battle.

The application was led by Vryheid councillor Lawrence Dube and four other ANC members representing 43 branches.

They went to court in July last year asking for a rerun‚ citing various irregularities.

The KwaZulu-Natal ANC said it was studying the judgment and considering an appeal.

The youth and women’s leagues have called a media conference for this morning.

Khumalo said that with more and more ANC branches beginning to back Ramaphosa‚ the court’s decision‚ which could result in fewer delegates from KwaZulu-Natal attending the December conference‚ threw the presidential race wide open.

But‚ he said‚ this was also a decision that threatened to widen already clear fractures within the party and weaken the party’s voice in December – and Ramaphosa could be the one who benefited.

“What this outcome does is add to the acrimonious relations that already exist between those who support Senzo Mchunu and those who support Sihle Zikalala.

“For Cyril‚ this has boosted the morale of his supporters in KwaZulu-Natal. You will now likely see many others coming out in support of his campaign.

“This has clearly sent a loud message. Unlike Free State‚ KwaZulu-Natal will not go to the elective conference with an influential voice.”

Khumalo believes Zikalala’s influence could wane now that he is no longer in a position of power‚ with the party structure he leads now declared illegitimate.

But KwaZulu-Natal ANC spokesman Mdu-miseni Ntuli said it was not all over for the provincial executive committee. They were expected to meet later yesterday.

“We will discuss this outcome and we will consult with the NEC [national executive committee] to determine our next course of action,” he said.

Hinting at an appeal‚ he said: “It’s very possible that another layer of court will arrive at a different decision.”

However‚ despite the likelihood of an appeal‚ he said the party would reconvene the conference if instructed to by the NEC.

ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize said yesterday the NEC did not want to rush into a decision as the outcome was still fresh. “I don’t believe one can speculate on what will happen. A decision will come out of an NEC meeting‚” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal ANCYL chairman Kwazi Mshengu said that the league was still firmly behind Dlamini-Zuma.

He was also adamant the outcome would not affect KwaZulu-Natal’s participation in the December conference.

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