Sihle Zikalala. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
Sihle Zikalala. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

Disputed KwaZulu-Natal ANC leader and MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala said he is not afraid to contest the party’s provincial elective conference.

Supporters ousted chairman Senzo Mchunu and took Zikalala-led ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) — a close ally of President Jacob Zuma and his chosen successor, Nkosazana Dlamini Zulu — to the High Court in Pietermaritzburg challenging the outcome of the November 2015 ANC KZN provincial elective conference. The court ruled in their favour.

During his address at the ANC cadres forum in Harding, south of KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday — where he shared a stage with ANC presidential hopeful Dlamini-Zuma – Zikalala said he would win another elective conference.

He reiterated his stance on Monday. Zikalala said that although he did not believe the court was right in taking a decision that effectively nullified the 2015 conference — in which he defeated the former KZN premier Senzo Mchunu to become ANC provincial chairperson — he and the provincial executive committee were ready to stand again as soon as possible.

He said he strongly believed another court would uphold an appeal against the high court’s decision.

"The PEC is ready for the elective conference if it will help to reunite the ANC. We are ready [for the provincial elective conference], even if an appeal were launched against the outcome, in order to restore unity to the party in the province.

"The NEC mandated the national officials to work with the province and consult on the prospect of success on appealing the matter. But the PEC is the one that proposed that if it unites the ANC it will call for the conference again.

"The PEC is ready to go that way including working with those comrades who contested and did not win in preparation for the conference," Zikalala said on Monday.

He added that those, including Senzo Mchunu, who took the party to court and won, know that the conference was held legitimately and its outcome was the genuine aspiration of ANC members in the province and these members would do the same if the elective conference were to be held tomorrow.

Zikalala also slammed ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe after a tweet at the weekend in which he warned of chaos should President Jacob Zuma fail to hand power to his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, at December’s elective conference.

Zikalala said those who predicted chaos wanted to create fertile ground for chaos. He fully endorsed Dlamini-Zuma, saying she had all the leadership qualities to lead the ANC and South Africa "to greener pastures".

Zikalala’s comments and endorsement of Dlamini-Zuma has renewed calls by those who are calling for the immediate disbandment of the entire Kwazulu-Natal provincial executive committee and replacing it with a task team to prepare branches for the ANC’s December conference.

Sthembiso Mshengu, who speaks on behalf of the pro- Senzo Mchunu group, said the stalemate in the province could lead to chaos and the provincial task team should be appointed as soon as possible to take the province forward.

Sifiso Kunene, a political analyst, said the delay in deciding about the fate of the PEC was causing unease in the ANC’s provincial structures. He said the sooner the NEC made a decision the better.

"The ANC in KZN is at the cross-roads. On the one hand the court has dealt a big blow to the PEC and on the other hand their opponents are waiting impatiently for the NEC to kick the PEC out of office. This has created a vacuum and a state of uneasiness, which is very bad for the ANC.

"One thing for sure this is not good news for those who are campaigning for NDZ [Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma] to succeed President Zuma. If the task team is made out of both factions it will be difficult for it to give blanket endorsement to NDZ and therefore she will get less and less platform to campaign and her campaign will be weakened as a result," Kunene said.

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