Thanks and goodbye

2013-08-30 00:00

A SLIP of the tongue during his farewell speech may have seen outgoing Premier Zweli Mkhize reveal what is probably the worst kept secret in provincial politics.

Addressing the packed special sitting of the legislature, Mkhize told his colleagues they should support Education MEC Senzo Mchunu, who is the preferred candidate to replace him.

“I want to ask this house to support him as much as possible,” Mkhize said.

Then he did an about turn and said that parliamentarians should throw their weight behind the yet to be named caretaker premier.

“I hope as I step down that you will give my successor the same support.”

Last week, Mkhize announced he would step down tomorrow, months before his term ended, to become ANC treasurer-general on a full-time basis at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.

The ANC national executive committee (NEC), which has the final say on Mkhize’s successor, was earlier this week given the names of Senzo Mchunu, Community Safety and Transport MEC Willies Mchunu and Legislature Speaker Peggy Nkonyeni.

The ANC in the province had to forward three names in order of preference to the party’s top brass in line with its constitution.

The Witness revealed yesterday that Willies Mchunu was tipped to vacate his provincial cabinet post to become President Jacob Zuma’s adviser on safety and security.

This would pave the way for Senzo Mchunu to become premier and avoid any tension in the party ahead of next year’s general and provincial elections, party insiders said.

Addressing the parliamentarians and guests, Mkhize said he had handed the reins of ANC chairperson to Senzo Mchunu earlier this year.

The latter narrowly beat Willies Mchunu in a two-way vote for the ANC provincial chairperson position.

Mkhize said he and Senzo Mchunu had come a long way since they were ANC provincial treasurer and provincial secretary respectively.

He also used the occasion to praise Willies Mchunu, whom he described as their coach and pillar of support.

“Willies Mchunu has been a bull who guarded us, whenever he was present there was discipline. He brought us up. He has always been there to guide and mentor us,” Mkhize said.

He used the opportunity to reminisce about the KZN legislature, especially the “wild west” atmosphere after the first democratic election when the province was ravaged by political infighting between the ANC and IFP.

He said the legislature had been characterised by “unruly legislators” who often disregarded the authority of former speaker Frank Mdlalose of the IFP.

“I recall once a stand-off spilled outside this House. Once outside, members drew guns and the two groups clashed at the entrance gate.

“This shocked even the police, and the media who were across the road published photos.”

Mkhize paid tribute to Mdlalose and President Jacob Zuma, who led bilateral meetings then and helped ease tensions between the ANC and IFP.

“These initiatives bore fruit and were strongly augmented by the call by the king Isilo SamaBandla [King Goodwill Zwelithini] who insisted on a non-partisan path, as well as the prayers and platforms created by the KwaZulu-Natal clergy.”

Mkhize said despite their political differences, the parties realised that peace and stability were key enabling factors for KwaZulu-Natal’s reconstruction and redevelopment.

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