KZN ready for elective conferences – ANC

Ace Magashule after the result announcement at the ANC 54th national conference . (File,  Elizabeth Sejake, City Press)
Ace Magashule after the result announcement at the ANC 54th national conference . (File, Elizabeth Sejake, City Press)

Provincial and regional elective ANC conferences in KwaZulu-Natal will go ahead, the party said on Monday.

Although the final decision ultimately lies with the national executive committee (NEC), party secretary-general Ace Magashule told reporters during a briefing on Monday, following a national working committee (NWC) meeting, that everyone agreed that the elective conferences should go ahead.

"Everybody unanimously agrees that we are ready for regional and provincial conferences. We are happy our structures have ensured unity and cohesion in the province. There are challenges here and there, but all in all, the consensus is we are ready," Magashule said.

The party had deployed its top six leaders and members of the NWC across the different regions of KwaZulu-Natal to listen to structures on the challenges facing the province.

The province is currently being led by an interim task team, after aggrieved members successfully challenged the results of the party's 2015 provincial conference in court and won.

KZN voters

However, the provincial conference to elect new leaders was indefinitely put on ice, after a heated debate at the party's NEC meeting last month that weighed the political risk if troubled provinces, such as KZN and the Free State, postponed conferences until after 2019 elections.

Those who wanted conferences postponed argued that divisions could deepen towards conferences and cause the party to lose its focus on the elections, which are expected to be hotly contested.

Those opposing the move, said it amounted to suspending the ANC constitution and opening a leadership vacuum until after the elections. 

KZN has one of the highest number of potential voters. However, the ANC is worried about the party's performance next year, following its decline in support during the 2016 local government elections, the fact that none of the province's leaders managed to make it into the party's top six as well as Jacob Zuma's recall as president of the country and his ultimate resignation.

READ: ANC fears KZN voters will punish party at 2019 polls

The province has had a spike in political killings, partly blamed on internal divisions within the ANC.

Magashule said there were fewer tensions in the province and cited the good work of interim co-ordinator Sihle Zikalala and interim convenor Mike Mabuyakhulu.

"We feel there is relative unity, thanks to the good work done by the leadership in the provincial task team. We are highly impressed by [the] leadership of KZN. We [came] out of this meeting more encouraged that the ANC in this province is on the right course in forging unity and cohesion."

This, despite calls that those who were part of the previous executive be removed from the task team. Disgruntled members have accused the previous executive, led by Zikalala, of gatekeeping and manipulation. 

Ramaphosa

Magashule said that issues of gatekeeping, a process in which membership is purposely frustrated, were given special attention.

"We do not see this as a prevailing issue anymore. We have dealt with every individual issue of gatekeeping and it has worked."

The move to hold conferences before the elections has also been seen as a battle for control between those who supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the presidential race and those backing President Cyril Ramaphosa. Those who supported Dlamini-Zuma said they believed they would win and reclaim power and control in the province. 

An NWC member, who spoke to News24, said the reported call by some members for an early national general council to recall Ramaphosa did not arise during the talks. The leadership in the province distanced itself from the reports.

However, divisions in the province were clear when some members demanded to be included in meetings. A video was also doing the rounds on social media, which showed some members singing a song, demanding answers on what Zuma has done.

In the video, Ramaphosa can be seen at the podium, while NEC member and Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane can be seen clapping, as some in the crowds sing. 

An NWC member played down the video, claiming the song was directed at the media, who were seen to have engineered an "onslaught" against the former president.

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