Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Moeletsi Mabe
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Moeletsi Mabe

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) has appointed Mike Mabuyakhulu as the convenor of its KwaZulu-Natal provincial task team, a further indication that newly elected president Cyril Ramaphosa is consolidating his power in the party.

Mabuyakhulu is effectively heading the task team appointed by the NEC after it dissolved the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee, which was declared illegal by the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

He is an ally of former chairman Senzo Mchunu, a key man in the effort that helped Ramaphosa take the ANC presidency.

The NEC held a two-day meeting last Thursday and Friday, during which its members agreed that Zuma should step down, and that the party’s top six officials would be facilitating his exit.

The meeting served to stamp Ramaphosa’s authority on the governing party — the decision to recall Zuma was taken without confrontation.

The party leadership also decided to dissolve the provincial executive committees in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State after courts had set aside the election of the leaders in both provinces. This was another significant move in dismantling the Zuma faction’s hold on the governing party.

In a statement on Saturday, ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said task teams would be set up to run both provinces in the interim until fresh elections for new leaders were held.

During last week’s NEC meeting there was a push  by Zuma’s backers for the former provincial bodies to form the task team. But a decision was taken for this to be referred to the officials and the newly elected national working committee.

The make-up and leadership of the task teams would be critical as they would oversee preparations for the election of new provincial party leaders.

In its statement, the NEC said the ANC’s national officials, led by Ramaphosa, would oversee "effective co-ordination between the ANC and government". The national working committee elected at the meeting was a mixed  bag between factions, but Ramaphosa’s group dominated. His opponent in the presidential race, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is at the top of the list of the 20-member committee. Insiders said 12 women and eight men had to be elected to ensure gender parity.

Another factor was unity — the winning group had to show its opponents that they would  not be purged from key decision-making structures, sources said.

Yet another factor was the "current responsibilities" of leaders — for instance some  MPs and current or future ministers were not included to ensure that they focused on their deployments. At its conference in December, the ANC had discussed a proposal to amend its constitution to ensure that 50% of the national working committee was not in government.

However, it was decided that there would be no limit, but that the number of NEC members allowed to be in government would be capped.

The NWC and the ANC’s officials are set to discuss the provincial task teams to oversee KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State on Monday.

A briefing would be held on Monday afternoon to announce the outcome of the talks and the NEC’s lekgotla.

The lekgotla was aimed at setting the government’s priorities for the year ahead — a crucial one in which campaigning will start for what will be a tough battle in the  2019 elections.

With Genevieve Quintal

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