Speculation continues over Mkhize’s successor

2012-12-20 00:00

WITH KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize’s election as ANC treasurer-general, questions have been raised as to who will succeed him as the premier of KwaZulu-Natal.

However, the ANC in KZN insists that such a discussion is premature, even though the treasurer-general’s post is supposed to be a full-time one.

ANC KZN officials have made it clear that the party will negotiate for Mkhize to remain premier until the 2014 general election.

This was to maintain stability and continuity in the province, according to provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala. Mkhize would remain the premier “unless the need arises, [but] so far there is no need”, he said.

Zikalala said Mkhize could remain the premier, just as Thandi Modise, who was elected ANC deputy secretary-general at the Manguang conference, was also the premier of North West.

However, this has not stopped speculation. Party insiders said it was an open race for the top post in the province. KZN Education MEC Senzo Mchunu was once considered a front-runner. Mchunu was the then ANC provincial secretary, credited with delivering KZN to Zuma in the 2007 leadership conference in Polokwane.

There has been speculation that his chances may have been damaged, because he is apparently no longer as close to Zuma.

Mchunu was forced to issue a statement earlier this year denying that he had jumped ship because he was firmly in the “Forces for Change” camp.

Mkhize’s exit as premier is seen by some as an opportunity for the second most populous province in the country to have its first female premier.

Front contenders are KZN Speaker Peggy Nkonyeni — who did not accept nomination for the party’s NEC — and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube. Nkonyeni, a Zuma ally whose relations with Mkhize have been strained, may have been tainted by her recent legal battle over corruption charges in the so-called Amigos case.

Charges against her and fellow MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu were later withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority.

Dube, who appears to have Mkhize’s support, is a former Speaker of the eThekwini council and ex ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Her rising star could be tarnished by her department’s handling of the Manase report into alleged corruption in eThekwini’s metro, which led to former municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe launching a R10 million defamation suit against his successor Sbu Sithole.

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