Divisions emerge ahead of ANC's elective meeting

2008-06-19 00:00

Divisions within ANC branches and regions have been reported ahead of the sixth provincial elective conference starting in Pietermaritzburg today.

While all the regions are unanimous in backing current provincial deputy chairman Zweli Mkhize to take over as chairman, there is uncertainty over who will replace him as deputy chairman and who will become the provincial treasurer.

Most regions are backing former SACP provincial chair and Speaker of the KZN Legislature, Willies Mchunu, for the hotly contested deputy chairmanship.

However, eThekwini, the largest region, is backing Siyabonga Cwele, a national MP.

Last-minute lobbying from those endorsing MEC Bheki Cele, the former eThekwini regional secretary, for the deputy chairmanship has sown further divisions within the party ranks.

One such divided region is Moses Mabhida (formerly Greater Pietermaritzburg) where delegates are split into two camps backing Mchunu or Cele.

Speaking at the memorial service of an ANC councillor during the week, Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, the ANC treasurer in the region, referred to such divisions before calling for unity ahead of the conference.

The Witness understands that some eThekwini delegates are now going against the decision to back Cwele, but regional chairman John Mchunu said the region will not be backing Cele.

“He [Cele] announced that he will not stand, he has not come back to us to tell us of the alleged will to stand for elections. We therefore cannot support him because as far as we know he will not stand.”

A regional chairman told The Witness yesterday that Cele supporters were dissuaded from continuing with their lobbying for Cele.

“The caucus of regional chairmen reached a consensus that it will not be correct for Cele to stand as this might sow divisions. However, delegates cannot be prevented from making nominations from the floor.”

Indications are that the charismatic Mchunu is likely to emerge the victor, as eThekwini region

could still support him.

“Our position [backing Cwele] can still change as we are talking to other regions to hear what they say. We are still open to persuasion from other regions because we do not want any tensions at the conference,” said a source.

Senior politics lecturer at the University of KZN, Zakhele Ndlovu, believes Mchunu’s election as deputy chairman would serve to strengthen relations between the Tripartite Alliance partners in the province.

“Since the new leadership took over at Polokwane, much emphasis has been placed on rekindling the relationship between the alliance partners. Mchunu’s election into the position will serve to reinforce that,” he said.

The position of provincial treasurer is also hotly contested. Nominees include Peggy Nkonyeni, Sizani Dlamini and Makhosi Khoza, the former Pietermaritzburg deputy mayor.

However, this is likely to be a two-horse race between Nkonyeni and Dlamini. The latter is the frontrunner in the race with the backing of the majority of regions.

Dlamini, who joined the United Democratic Front at the age of 16, boasts strong struggle credentials including her involvement in the ANC’s Operation Vula and other key MK operations in the eighties.

Nkonyeni’s campaign has been tainted by the negative publicity that her department has been receiving in the run-up to the conference. Delegates in Moses Mabhida and Abaqulusi regions are divided over the two nominees.

Despite the reported divisions, the conference is expected to be a peaceful one.


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