‘This is about the life of the ANC’

2012-10-13 18:24

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal says it has one goal at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung later this year: ensuring the party does not “die in our hands”.

It’s the fear of disunity or destroying the organisation that is driving KZN’s intense lobbying of other provinces and party structures, says provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala.

Zikalala told City Press the province would “engage” other provinces instead of using its numerical strength to impose
its will.

With 974 of the 4 500 voting delegates at the conference, Zuma’s home province holds the key to his re-election.

The province has strategically not named a slate yet and is waiting for its branches to wrap up consultation first.

However, it has repeatedly expressed its “general sense of satisfaction’’ with the leadership elected in Polokwane five years ago, and is almost certain to back Zuma’s bid for a second term.

Zikalala said: “Our approach is not informed by numerical strength, but by the policies of the ANC, in particular where the ANC will be post-Mangaung.

“Are we going to have an ANC that is divided and an ANC that will create a second Congress of the People, as we did at the last conference? We don’t believe we should use (our numerical strength) to arrogantly push for what we want. This conference of the ANC takes place at a very crucial moment.

“The ANC is in its centenary (year). The critical task, and we should be so sensitive to this, is how we ensure that the ANC lives from now, going forward. Should it die in our hands, how will history judge us?’’

Zikalala is a seasoned lobbyist. He was the secretary-general of the ANC Youth League at Polokwane, part of the glue that held together the campaign to oust Thabo Mbeki.

Under his leadership, the KZN ANC’s office bearers and provincial working committee members have already met Gauteng, Free State, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape to “engage” on Mangaung.

“If it was just about numbers we would have simply said: ‘Caucus two or three provinces,’ and: ‘We are fine, we don’t need anybody else.’

“This is about the life of the ANC,” Zikalala said.

“Once you have serious division, then there are factions as a permanent feature of the organisation. We are avoiding that. We will not be part of any faction.

“People talk about ‘anything but Zuma’ or ‘forces for change’. That’s what they are.

“We are not a faction. We are a province of the organisation and we are willing to engage with any other structure of the organisation.”

Zikalala said the ANC’s KZN branches had started general meetings to select delegates and nominate leaders for the 80-member national executive committee and the all-important top six.

The branches had been briefed on “principles” to look for in leaders, but would make their own choices, he insisted.

“What I can say is that in KwaZulu-Natal there is a general sense of acceptance of the current leadership in the structures.

“Generally, the province feels the leadership elected in Polokwane has led us well. There may be issues here and there but generally that’s where we are.

“We have to ensure engagement. If all provinces are under one roof, if there are differences, we should talk and say how we manage them.

“There is no room for arrogance or emotion. We must go there with sobriety and the clear purpose of achieving unity while focusing the ANC.

“Ours is to ensure that we engage with the aim of ensuring unity in Mangaung.

“You know how it was at Polokwane. You deprive the organisation of capable leaders,” said Zikalala.

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