Provincial contenders: Mdumiseni Ntuli, right, is tipped to win the position of ANC provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal. Former secretary Super Zuma, left, has also been nominated for the post. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
Provincial contenders: Mdumiseni Ntuli, right, is tipped to win the position of ANC provincial secretary in KwaZulu-Natal. Former secretary Super Zuma, left, has also been nominated for the post. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference will finally get under way this weekend and the position of secretary is emerging as the most closely contested, while there is a move to avoid a bruising contest in other key positions.

Mdumiseni Ntuli, the former spokesman of the party’s provincial executive committee, is the favourite to clinch the position. Ntuli had been due to take on Super Zuma, the former provincial secretary, at the aborted provincial conference in June.

Ntuli and Zuma lost their positions in January when the ANC’s national executive committee disbanded the provincial executive committee after the High Court in Pietermaritzburg found a number of irregularities had taken place at the 2015 provincial conference.

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The ANC’s national executive committee appointed a provincial task team to run the party’s affairs in KwaZulu-Natal. Insiders said most of the regions had agreed that Sihle Zikalala would be unopposed for the position of provincial chairman, with Mike Mabuyakhulu due to be unopposed for the post of deputy chairman.

Ntuli has secured the nomination of the majority of the branches in at least eight of the ANC’s 11 regions in the province, while Zuma has been nominated by the majority of the branches in two regions.

Tholi Gwala, the ANC secretary of the Musa Dladla region, told Business Day that most of the branches in his region had nominated Ntuli because of his sound leadership skills.

"Ahead of the [aborted June] provincial elective conference we were mandated to persuade other regions to go with the name of Ntuli and campaign for unity leadership that will involve leaders from both side [factions]. I have no doubt that if these branches meet again they will still go for Ntuli."

His sentiments were echoed by at least two other leaders from the Lower South Coast and Ukhahlamba regions.

The provincial conference comes after the ANC leadership in the province, along with national executive committee members tasked with uniting the warring factions in the province, persuaded the disgruntled members to withdraw their case.

Mabuyakhulu, convener of the provincial task team, said this was the result of an intensive, behind-the-scenes effort.

He declined to comment on which leaders had been nominated for positions, saying only that ANC branches were allowed to nominate whoever they wanted to serve. "Our job is to ensure that there is unity and cohesion in the ANC structures across the province. We are busy doing just that," he said.