Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
On the other hand: Sihle Zikalala was elected as ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairman in November 2015. He is appealing against a high court ruling that the election was illegal. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
On the other hand: Sihle Zikalala was elected as ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairman in November 2015. He is appealing against a high court ruling that the election was illegal. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The KwaZulu-Natal faction backing deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential bid is set to apply for a declaratory order to stop the Sihle Zikalala executive from operating as the provincial executive committee (PEC).

The faction, loosely referred to as the Senzo Mchunu faction, met its lawyers on Thursday afternoon after taking a decision to oppose Zikalala’s bid to appeal against the ruling in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg judgment that the 2015 ANC provincial elections were unlawful and invalid. Zikalala and his provincial executive — key Jacob Zuma allies who are supporting former AU head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the December ANC elections — were elected at this conference.

The Mchunu faction also intends to bar Zikalala and his team from using the provincial party headquarters pending the outcome of the appeal.

Spokesman for this group Sthembiso Mshengu confirmed the new developments on Thursday, saying it had issued a warning that allowing the appeal would have a potentially negative effect on the national conference — should the current, illegal PEC be allowed to preside over its preparations.

He expressed concern over the national leadership’s apparent reticence to take "precise decisions" on this matter.

Business Day understands that at a national executive committee (NEC) meeting last week, the matter was not discussed at length. Instead, the NEC was informed about the legal opinions by the national working committee and were told that the national officials would visit KwaZulu-Natal on Monday to seek a "political solution" to the impasse.

Despite this undertaking, the officials still permitted Zikalala and his group to go ahead and appeal against the High Court in Pietermaritzburg ruling, a decision that riled Mchunu.

Zuma and a handful of his backers railroaded the idea of the appeal instead of the establishment of a provincial task team. Insiders said the task team option was more widely supported at that meeting.

Zuma and his backers have been pushing hard to ensure that Zikalala remained at the helm of the province in the run-up to the national conference. This was despite the majority of the NEC saying the province should be placed under the stewardship of a task team.

The main argument in favour of a task team was that the integrity of the December conference would be protected. The Mchunu grouping on Monday warned national officials that allowing Zikalala and his team to appeal would jeopardise the conference, but this fell on deaf ears as the "provincial executive" was permitted to proceed with its appeal against the judgment, while continued attempts to find a political solution to the impasse were being made.

marriann@businesslive.co.za

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