Ndlela falls out of favour

2016-05-17 13:59
Current mayor Chris Ndlela (left), who was nominated bottom of the list during an ANC conference, placing his political future in doubt, standing next to current deputy mayor Thobani Zuma, who has been tipped as the next mayor.

Current mayor Chris Ndlela (left), who was nominated bottom of the list during an ANC conference, placing his political future in doubt, standing next to current deputy mayor Thobani Zuma, who has been tipped as the next mayor. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - The ANC’s provincial conference ­appears to have claimed its latest ­high-profile victim in Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela, whose political future hangs in the balance after finding ­himself low down on the party’s list of candidates for this year’s local ­government elections.

The mayoral candidate usually takes top spot on the list, but Ndlela finds ­himself languishing below number 30 — a sure indication that if he returns to the council, he will not be wearing the ­mayoral chains.

The fates of Ndlela, eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo and others were apparently sealed when, in the run-up to the ANC’s provincial conference held in ­November last year, they backed former provincial chairperson and current Premier Senzo Mchunu in his unsuccessful bid for a second term. Mchunu lost the chairperson’s seat to Sihle Zikalala.

Fears of a purge of those who had backed Mchunu appeared to be realised when the Msunduzi region hosted a conference to nominate its PR councillors.

It appeared those in the premier’s camp have paid a heavy price, with vastly reduced chances of being re-elected to their current positions.

In Msunduzi, Ndlela, the ANC’s ­regional deputy chairperson, failed to make even the top 30.

An ANC insider in the Msunduzi council said they had never before seen a top-five member of the ANC regional leadership being nominated so low down on a list. “Common sense says they should be nominated in the top five,” said the insider.

In the current term, the ANC has 22 PR councillors.

With the EFF set to contest the local government elections for the first time, there are fears within the party that it would not retain the same number of PR councillors, reducing Ndlela’s chances of returning to council to virtually nil.

Other senior executive council ­members who were said to have been on Ndlela’s side have also been pushed down the list.

In line to replace Ndlela is current ­deputy mayor Thobani Zuma, who occupies the number one spot on the list.

The Witness understands that Zuma’s chances of becoming the next Msunduzi mayor were boosted by a twist in events. It appears that the man who had been tipped as the next mayor, Mthandeni Dlungwane, the ANC regional ­chairperson, has set his sights on a senior role in the provincial legislature.

MPL Dlungwane, chairperson of the sports and recreation portfolio ­committee, has apparently been earmarked for an MEC’s position should the provincial legislature be reshuffled.

Dlungwane is understood to be ­supported by the ANC Youth League, which he led as provincial chairperson prior to the provincial leadership being disbanded by the then president Julius Malema in 2012.

Also finding herself down the list is uMngeni Mayor Mbali Myeni.

Myeni, who was in the premier’s camp, had contested the position of ANC provincial deputy secretary and lost to Mluleki Ndobe.

Former regional ANC Youth League stalwart Sandile Gabela is also ­understood to have fallen out with the regional structures.

Gabela had previously served as the ANC’s chief whip in uMgungundlovu Municipality.

Meanwhile, the ANC’s Msunduzi ­region was accused of being a bully by smaller municipalities for nominating their candidates to take up positions in the uMgungundlovu council.

A source who attended the list conference said Msunduzi had put forward too many names.

“We ended up not nominating candidates for uMgungundlovu, so it was agreed that a new date should be set,” said the source.

The Witness also understands that current uMgungundlovu Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee has no intention of taking ­another term at the helm of the ­municipality.

Regional secretary Mzi Zuma ­confirmed that the region had ­submitted the list to the provincial ­leadership, but would not comment on the detail of people’s positions on it.

Provincial secretary Super Zuma said the lists were still to be ratified and would be adjusted to accommodate ­issues such as gender, generational mix and geographic spread.

Ndlela declined to comment, saying he was not authorised to speak on the matter, adding that he was not sure if the ANC had finished the list process.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said the list conferences had proven to be “hit-back time”.

“This is in line with what happened in Durban, where James Nxumalo was nominated outside the top 20. It is the same pattern,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Thobani Zuma did not respond to an SMS query for comment and did not answer his phone.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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