ANC municipal in-fights threaten service delivery

2014-06-11 00:00

ONGOING unrest at municipalities in the ANC’s Moses Mabhida region, including strikes and go-slows by staff, are related to a power struggle between ANC leaders, which led to one being locked out of his office and his secretary being fired.

Sources said former regional secretary Supa Zuma was set to resign from the provincial legislature days after being appointed. This was apparently after he realised he had just given up a more powerful, influential position as regional secretary, where he would be able to influence the appointment of mayors and councillors in the forthcoming local government elections.

According to the rumour mill, the regional chairperson, Alpha Shelembe, is also not faring much better. He apparently faces a disciplinary hearing by the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) for flouting party protocol. This flows from an inquiry into how Zuma’s personal assistant was fired from her job after he became an MPL. The PEC said any Regional Executive Committee (REC) leader who may have transgressed in this matter would face a disciplinary hearing.

However, Shelembe’s supporters deny that he is in the firing line, saying it is a rumour spread by the Zuma faction.

Sources within local ANC structures say there has been an ongoing power struggle between Zuma and Shelembe. They allege Zuma wanted to continue in his role as secretary until the regional executive committee elections, when he was hoping to become the new chairperson.

Trouble started when he went to his office last Friday, only to find himself locked out. This caused outrage among his supporters.

A regional meeting scheduled for that evening was cancelled. Instead the PEC held a meeting with the regional executive, where Zuma was told that he had to resign as secretary and stay on as MPL. This is said to have been a decision of the National Executive Committee, which had instructed all regional secretaries who had become parliamentarians to resign their former positions.

Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said regional secretaries were powerful individuals because they could influence branch leadership and deployment into municipalities — including municipal managers, mayors and councillors. Regional and provincial secretaries and chairpersons “can build empires”, he said. They usually work together, but fractious relationships between the two could lead to factional battles, he added.

Local ANC sources attributed the ongoing unrest in local municipalities and the lack of service delivery to these factional battles. They claim that union members are being used to support one or other faction, and they do this by sabotaging services. The recent go-slow at Msunduzi municipality, labour unrest at uMngeni and the vote of no confidence passed against the Mpofana mayor, which was later reversed, are seen as the rumblings of these factional battles.

The sources said such incidents could be intensified in the build-up to the local government elections. Municipal officials belonging to Zuma’s camp were expected to resign now that he was out of his influential position.

Zuma refused to comment, referring all questions to the PEC.

Shelembe denied he was facing disciplinary charges. He said there had been a special REC meeting on Monday, at the request of provincial leaders, to engage with the Moses Mabhida leadership about the NEC’s position on the issue of regional secretaries who had become parliamentarians. Shelembe would not divulge details of the meeting.

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