ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal factions in talks to form ‘inclusive’ task team
Leaders from both sides have confirmed the talks, said to have the backing of the NEC, as the party works to resolve a provincial crisis that could harm its 2019 electoral prospects
The ANC factions in KwaZulu-Natal are to hold talks to form an "inclusive" and "balanced" interim KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial task team.
ANC leaders from both sides of the political divide have confirmed these talks.
The two factions — supporters of Sihle Zikalala and the disbanded provincial executive committee (PEC), and those of former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu — are believed to have the tacit approval of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) to agree on a task team, rather than one being imposed.
Just before the ANC’s mid-December elective conference, the KwaZulu-Natal PEC was disbanded by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
The issue of the provincial leadership following the court ruling will be one of the top items when the newly NEC meets for the first time.
The concern is that the leadership void could ultimately hamper service delivery at a time when the party needs to put its best foot forward ahead of the 2019 national and provincial elections.
Speaking at several venues in KwaZulu-Natal this week, newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa called for both factions to bury the hatchet.
His call was echoed by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini when the ANC top five leaders visited him at his Enyokeni Palace in KwaNongoma on Sunday.
The king urged the losers to accept the outcome of the conference, and the winners to embrace those they defeated.
One of the leaders in Ramaphosa’s camp, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak about the talks, said: "Both sides agree that there should be an interim structure."
Two of the biggest stumbling blocks in talks are the provincial cabinet and the immediate recall of President Jacob Zuma from office.
"We are saying he must be removed immediately because his continued presence is causing a huge damage to the ANC brand. The other side is saying he must stay on a little longer for the sake of unity," the leader said.
Talks on the KwaZulu-Natal cabinet are about how to ensure it is inclusive, credible and enjoys the support of ANC allies Cosatu and the SACP.
Mdumiseni Ntuli, spokesman for the disbanded PEC, was not available for comment on Monday.
Mzwandile Mkhwanazi, ANC Lower South Coast regional secretary and a Ramaphosa ally, said he had heard about the talks.
His region was stripped of its powers by the now disbanded NEC — a move seen as preventing Ramaphosa’s supporters in the region from campaigning for him.
Mkhwanazi said that after the court ruling, his region had resumed its duties overseeing branches in the region.
He said: "As I am talking to you we are preparing the branches to go the ANC’s January 8 rally in East London on Saturday. Immediately after that our focus will be to start arranging for the provincial rallies of the ANC.
"We understand that the NEC will handle the interim KwaZulu-Natal structure and we don’t want to pre-empt their decision. We will respect their decision on this matter.
"Remember that the NEC had said it wants an interim structure that is inclusive and balanced."