Ndebele: I wasn’t pushed

2008-02-03 00:00

KwaZulu-Natal Premier S’bu Ndebele yesterday said he was not pressured into not standing for another term as ANC provincial chairman.

Ndebele first made the announcement on Saturday at the start of the two-day ANC provincial lekgotla in Durban.

At the close of the meeting he said he decided to step down because he felt he has served a long term and that the ANC under him has achieved many of its goals, including unity and taking over government in the province.

"I have been privileged to lead the ANC as the provincial chairperson for the past 10 years. There isn’t any provincial chair who has come close to serving in the position for 10 years … You reach a point when you ask yourself: How far can I go?" he said.

He told delegates that the ANC is in "mature and capable" hands.

Ndebele will officially hand over the reins at the party’s three-day provincial conference scheduled to start on May 30.

Although the nominations process has not started, current deputy chair Zweli Mkhize is a clear favourite as Ndebele’s successor. His name tops an "unofficial" list of nominees that is reportedly being circulated among ANC members in the province.

However, ANC provincial secretary Senzo Mchunu said: "Any list you hear about now has nothing to do with the election process, it is just a view of those circulating it".

The first step towards formal nominations will start later this month with a campaign to revive all ANC branches in the province.

This will be followed by branch audits to be conducted during the first week of April. Those branches found to be in good standing will be eligible to nominate their preferred candidates.

Mkhize would not say whether he would stand for the chairmanship if he is nominated.

"It is not upon any member of the ANC to say I will stand before the process has started," Mchunu said on Mkhize’s behalf.

Mkhize downplayed any perceived tensions between him and Ndebele, saying the latter "enjoys the full support" of the ANC as both premier and provincial chair.

"Comrade S’bu has never felt any pressure of being pushed [and] no other comrade has ever felt that pressure," Mkhize said.

He said suggestions that there is going to be a move to purge of ANC members perceived to be supporters of President Thabo Mbeki from government positions are wrong.

"In fact, if you analyse the list, you will see that only 30% of the new NEC members are not in government in any form."

Ndebele’s announcement was well received by delegates who applauded and burst into song at the close of the lekgotla.

NEC members Tokyo Sexwale, Ruth Bhengu, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Sicelo Shiceka and Nathi Mthethwa were among the delegates.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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