Durban on brink of ‘war’

2015-03-03 00:00

POLITICAL analysts fear that violence could erupt if calm is not restored in the eThekwini region, scene of a battle for regional ANC leadership.

In a bid to restore order in the region, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe reportedly met with provincial leaders on Friday, where he instructed that the ­regional elective conference be nullified.

This after he apparently received 32 ­letters from disgruntled members disputing recent elections.

eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo won the regional chairperson position by 253 votes, beating his opponent Zandile ­Gumede, who got 212 votes.

Cracks in the party surfaced before the elective conference, which was held three weeks ago.

At the centre of the discontent is the inclusion of three branches that had failed the branch audit process. It is alleged that the branches swayed the votes to favour Nxumalo.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said when it comes to provincial politics, the eThekwini region is the “kingmaker”.

“It’s sad to see what is happening in eThekwini; we have never seen eThekwini this divided.

“KZN is known for unity; this has never happened before. It is particularly bad for Durban because we have seen lives lost in the past,” he said, referring to ANC regional secretary Sbu Sibiya, who was killed near his house in Inanda, Durban, in July 2011.

ANC members believed his killing was politically motivated and that it was linked to the contest for positions in the region.

“I want to know why there is so much fighting. There must be a lot at stake,” said Madlala.

“What I find interesting is that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma found irregularities in some eThekwini councillors and Zandile Gumede was one of them, but no one is making mention of that. Nxumalo should welcome the rerun [of voting] if he’s got nothing to hide,” said Madlala, referring to Dlamini-Zuma’s investigation into ­allegations of irregularities in the list ­process for councillors leading up to the 2011 local-government elections.

UKZN political lecturer Zakhele Ndlovu said: “I think there is a lot of money at stake because whoever is the chair of eThekwini, that person and their ­faction pretty much dictate what happens in eThekwini, particularly when it comes to government tenders.”

Ndlovu said people are positioning themselves for the 2016 and 2017 ­elections.

“There are talks that Zandile’s faction wants Zweli Mkhize to be the deputy ­president in 2017,” said Ndlovu, adding that “politics in Africa is getting dirty”.

“The scariest part is that there have been a number of high-profile political murders in the past that have gone ­unsolved,” said Ndlovu.

Analyst Imraan Buccus said it was clear that there was fragmentation and factions in the eThekwini region.

He said, “We should ask ourselves why the initial directive from secretary general Gwede Mantashe [not to admit the three problem branches] was not complied with, because it is common protocol that his directive be followed.

“If his directive was followed, this wouldn’t be happening.”

BORN in New Hanover, James ­Nxumalo is currently the mayor of eThekwini Municipality.

Nxumalo, who is also the provincial chairperson of the South African Communist Party (SACP), rose up the political ladder steadily.

He joined the ANC Youth League, the ANC and the South African ­Communist Party in 1990.

In an interview with The Witness last year, he said between 1996 and 2000 he served as a councillor and executive council member of the then Outer West Local Council.

In 2005, he was elected to be speaker of the council.

In 2011, he was appointed the ­mayor of eThekwini Municipality.

Two weeks ago he was appointed the chairperson of the eThekwini ­region.

DURBAN councillor Zandile Gumede is considered a political heavyweight in the province. The councillor of ward 53, who lost the race for the province’s chairperson by 212 votes in the recently held regional elective conference, sits on the city’s executive committee.

The former eThekwini regional treasurer was fingered in Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s report in 2011 which was initiated by ANC President Jacob Zuma to investigate allegations of ­irregularities in the list processes for councillors leading up to the 2011 local government elections.

At the time the report recommended that Zandile Gumede be “removed [as councillor] and that the process be redone”, but this never happened.

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