ANC on a march to disaster in KwaZulu-Natal
The ANC’s waning power in the province is made worse by factionalism - and the IFP will benefit
The future is not looking bright for the ANC, a situation that opens the doors for the opposition.
Drawn guns, flared tempers and several protest marches to the ANC offices in Durban in recent weeks point to a state of vulnerability for the ruling party in its traditional stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal.
At the heart of the instability is the imminent disbandment of a provincial interim task team set up earlier this year when the provincial executive committee was suspended in January.
The team was established to quell fighting between factions. One group is aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s emissary, former KZN premier Senzo Mchunu, while the other supports former provincial chair Sihle Zikalala, who backs former president Jacob Zuma and former presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.Added to that is the ANC’s indefinite postponement of the provincial elective conference which was scheduled for April.
The two events have been catalysts for turmoil and uncertainty over the party’s future in the province, with a spike in several incidents where both factions have registered political dissatisfaction.A clash captured in a video that went viral, in which pro-Ramaphosa supporters were prevented by gun-wielding bodyguards from attending a meeting, was followed by several marches to the ANC offices in Durban where members demanded the heads of various ANC leaders, including education MEC Mthandweni Dlungwa, for alleged corruption.
On Friday, about a 1,000 pro-Zuma supporters marched to the ANC offices in Durban to register their protest over the postponement of the provincial conference.
Mzomuhle Dube, representing branches of the region, said the majority of branches were ready to host the conference.
“We were sold a provincial roadmap and told to accept the suspension of the provincial executive committee and that a provincial interim committee would be in place to convene branches in preparation for the provincial elective conference, which was set for April. Now we are demanding they must stick to the roadmap and hold the conference by the end of May or before June 8.”A few days before, pro-Ramaphosa supporters gathered at the Durban beachfront calling for the intervention of the national working committee to address factionalism in the party.
But the simmering tension in the province should make Ramaphosa and the Top Six act swiftly.
That’s the view of political analyst Daniel Silke, who says the civil revolt against North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, tension in KZN and rumblings of dissatisfaction in the Eastern Cape ANC structures are “serious challenges” to the ANC ahead of next year’s elections.“Last year the Ramaphosa vs Dlamini-Zuma issue was a national threat to the party in the run-up to the party’s conference. But this year, the threat is at a provincial level.
“In KZN, the issue is simply not one of the postponement of a provincial elective conference. The problem stems from a number of issues, including Jacob Zuma’s trial and his continued influence, as well as the fact that KZN has gone from a position of power in the top six to being shut out of power.“KZN doesn’t wield the position of power or carry as much influence any more and this is exacerbated by the power plays between the pro-Zuma and pro-Ramaphosa factions,” he said.
Silke said the internal factions posed a serious challenge to the ANC, and a party like the Inkatha Freedom Party would benefit from the fallout.
“The IFP would be the chief recipient, not so much the DA or the EFF. It is a dangerous period for the ANC and they should really begin to take stock.”
The party’s leadership in the province has been on rocky ground‚ with a court challenge by a group of “rebels” having successfully nullified the 2015 elective process which led to the installation of the provincial executive committee in 2016.
The group sought to nullify the legitimacy of ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma and provincial chairperson Sihle ZIkala, as well as 38 other ANC leaders following the controversial PEC in November 2015.
In January, following the court ruling, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule formally suspended the KZN executive and replaced them with an interim structure‚ convened by former KZN economic development and tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and co-ordinated by his predecessor and former ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala.
Zikala referred queries to Magashule and ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe, who didn’t respond.