Senzo Mchunu. Picture: SOWETAN
Senzo Mchunu. Picture: SOWETAN

Senzo Mchunu, ousted ANC chairman and former premier of KwaZulu-Natal, warned on Sunday that the party might lose the province in 2019 elections if the deep divisions in the organisation were not resolved.

Mchunu was addressing the media after giving his political input in a closed session during a report-back on last week’s high court judgment setting aside the ANC’s 2015 provincial elective conference.

The meeting, held at Durban’s Olive Convention Centre, was attended by more than 300 branches that form part of the so-called ANC rebels who took the party to court in July 2016, asking for a rerun of the controversial provincial conference, citing irregularities.

The ANC rebels are heading for a showdown with the party’s provincial executive committee, which they want removed following the court ruling by Judge Jerome Mnguni.

The ANC in the province is divided on who should be the next national party leader, with the provincial committee behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the other faction backing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the 2015 conference, Mchunu lost to Sihle Zikalala in a bitter internal battle. The provincial executive committee, led by Zikalala, has indicated it will appeal against the court ruling, but the ANC rebels have vowed to counter it. They want the committee to vacate the ANC’s offices in central Durban as they consider the leadership structure illegitimate.

Mchunu extended an olive branch to the provincial ANC leaders, saying the factions had to find agreement. He said that, while they would wait for the ANC national executive committee to deal with the matter, the party in the province could not do nothing about division.

The national executive committee "is well placed to decide what needs to be done following the outcome of the court case", Mchunu said. "But, at the same time, we think that we in the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal need to begin to find one another.

"We need to stop the politics of saying so and so won and … now [has] the power to be a real henchman where you do anything that you want without any principle," he said.

Mchunu was referring to the axings of MECs Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, Mike Mabuyakhulu, Peggy Nkonyeni and Cyril Xaba in 2016. The MECs, who attended the meeting on Sunday, were accused of having sided with Mchunu during the 2015 elective conference. Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, facing pressure from opposition parties to resign because of the healthcare crisis in the province, was a surprise attendant.

The provincial executive committee had to exercise its powers cautiously and responsibly, Mchunu said. "Let’s humble ourselves and sit down and … talk, and guard against us losing in 2019 on the altar of bickering," Mchunu said.

Sithembiso Mshengu, the spokesman for the affected branches, said it was suggested that a team be appointed to engage the provincial executive committee and national leadership "as a demonstration of our seriousness [to achieve] a political solution because we cannot resolve our problems and our issues if we are permanently in courts".


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