Youth versus experience in vote for ANC chairperson in eThekwini

2012-03-15 00:00

SURPRISINGLY the ANC succession battle does not feature in the leadership race for the top position in the party’s biggest region in KwaZulu-Natal — eThekwini.

Both candidates firmly support President Jacob Zuma for a second term of office and they want KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize to remain ANC provincial chairperson.

But it seems battle lines are drawn on youth versus experience.

This weekend MPL Nhlakanipho Ntombela, a former KZN Youth League leader, will go up against Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo for the chairmanship of the eThekwini regional executive committee(REC).

Dhlomo is expected to use his experience as a “veteran” ANC politician to have an edge over Ntombela. However the incumbent is expected to draw support from the large contingent of youth who are branch members.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said about 600 delegates from eThekwini’s 103 branches were expected to converge at Olive Conference Centre (OCC) in Durban to elect its new leadership. Zikalala said delegates will also discuss and vigorously debate other ANC internal matters and policy issues.

The conference will run from tomorrow until Sunday.

The position of eThekwini chairperson has been vacant since the death of John Mchunu in 2010. His deputy, Stanley Xulu, who is acting chairperson, did not stand as a candidate.

Although Dhlomo is from the rural Umbumbulu area, his underground activities as a member of Umkhonto Wesizwe were carried out when he was in medical school in Durban. He has also been active in local government politics as a former mayor of Newcastle. He became Health MEC in 2009.

Ntombela, who is the former KZN youth commissioner, was deployed to the legislature in 2009. This was when the ANC in the province began to heed an ANCYL call for a “generational mix” in terms of deployment of cadres to various government positions.

Dhlomo is fighting his campaign to become eThekwini REC chairperson on a ticket of clean governance. He and his supporters are said to be presenting themselves as the new “anti-corruption unit” and the “saviours” of eThekwini Municipality. eThekwini is currently engulfed in a fraud and corruption scandal emanating from the Manase forensic inquiry.

Dhlomo’s list of preferred candidates for his executive team include Phelelani Mshungu as deputy chairperson, Bheki Ntshangase (secretary), Monica Jama (deputy secretary) and Zandile Gumede (treasurer).

Ntombela’s campaign promise is that he will continue the legacy of Mchunu, who was a popular chairperson of the REC. His choice for an executive team are Stanley Xulu or Comfort Ngidi as his deputy, Mthunzi Dlamini (secretary), Minah Lesoma (deputy secretary) and Lindiwe Ntaka-Mhlongo (treasurer.)

Two other candidates who were expected to contest the leadership position withdrew in support of Ntombela.

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