An ANC supporter in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: RAJESH JANTILAL
An ANC supporter in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: RAJESH JANTILAL

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has been meeting frequently to woo back former ANC members who stood as independent candidates in the 2016 local government elections.

In the eThekwini municipality alone 58 candidates, mostly former ANC councillors, stood as independents, of which only five won. In the KwaDukuza municipality one of two former ANC councillors who stood as independents won their wards, while in the uMkhanyakude district municipality five stood as independent candidates.

Most of the candidates had lobbied for former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu in the November 2015 ANC provincial elective conference in his failed bid to retain the position of ANC provincial chair against Sihle Zikalala.

Some of the independent candidates beat candidates who had received the ANC provincial leadership’s nod to stand as ANC candidates. One of these councillors, Njabulo Mabanga, trounced his ANC rival and won the eThekwini ward 107, which includes Ntuzuma and Inanda north of Durban. Mabanga said he has attended meetings called by ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli and other candidates who stood as independents in the 2016 polls.

The KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial executive committee has "mandated the provincial secretary to undertake an effort to unite all ANC structures in the province, including independent candidates and their communities. As a result of these efforts, I have attended no less than three meetings with the provincial secretary and other independent councillors," Mabanga said.

"We have indicated that we are willing to return to the ANC… We had heeded our communities’ call for us to stand as independents after the then ANC leaders imposed candidates on reluctant communities. We then decided to stand for the ANC principle that communities must lead and own the process of nominating candidates. The leaders are admitting that they were wrong to [appoint] candidates for communities."

Ntuli said the meetings were prompted by resolutions of the Nasrec conference that ushered in a new party leadership.