Africa-Press – South-Africa. As the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal prepares to elect new leaders, several issues threaten to postpone the provincial conference of the party’s most robust support base.
The party’s provincial executive committee (PEC) gave an update on Tuesday following its meeting over the weekend, saying only 50% of the branch general meetings (BGMs) had convened and were eligible to attend the conference. This number was far below the 70% minimum needed to make the required quorum for the conference to sit.
ANC KZN secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said he was confident that by the time the conference sits in three weeks, the 70% BGMs needed for the conference to go ahead would have been met.
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Ntuli said in total, 831 branches had met the 100 or more membership needed for them to be part of the conference, but of this 831, only 500 had convened their BGMs.
Ntuli said over this past weekend, at least 200 BGMs met, and he was sure that the 631 branches needed to constitute a quorum would have convened by the start of the conference scheduled for 15 to 18 July.
Also compounding the holding of the BGMs, were residual issues that emanated leading up to last year’s municipal elections.
Ntuli said, “the grievances, you will recall, were regarding how provinces held their candidate selection processes leading up to the local government elections”.
“The national leadership appointed a team led by comrade [former president] Kgalema Motlanthe whose main responsibility was to conduct a detailed assessment of how we handled the selection process leading to the local government elections in November last year.
“That team produced a report which was subsequently adopted by the NEC. The report, among other things, would have indicated where in certain places, including here in KZN, there was a breach of the ANC guidelines in terms of the selection of some of our ward candidates.
“I think there would be about two of three wards in KZN where there was a decision that by-elections are warranted to rectify the matter.
“When we received the report, the PEC then had to say ‘what is our current situation today’, and we agreed that we no longer enjoy the hegemony we once did and may, as a result not be assured of winning in those wards that place the ANC in KZN in a more precarious position than it already is,” said Ntuli.
He said the KZN PEC was engaging the disgruntled wards and ensuring that a suitable solution was found that would resolve this challenge and ensure that members continued to their BGMs in full confidence of the provincial ANC’s willingness to work hand in hand with branches.
KZN ANC pushing for stance against step-aside rule
Yet another bone of contention that had arisen leading up to the conference was how the party’s national leadership had implemented the step-aside rule.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC regions were pushing for the upcoming ruling party provincial conference to take a stance against the organisation’s current step-aside resolution.
The resolution, which forces ANC members facing criminal charges to step down, also bars those members from contesting for positions within the party.
Key ANC members who had stepped down because of the step-aside resolution include former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule whom some are backing and had recently held meetings with former president Jacob Zuma to guide them.
Ntuli said he was aware of the push for the PEC to take a stance on the matter, adding that the issue had also arisen during PEC deliberations and during those discussions, the concern was not the rule, but how it had been implemented.
He added that the PEC encouraged members in the province to engage on the policy document that had been shared by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) and to raise matters that were unique to KZN for tabling at the party’s policy conference set for July.
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Ntuli, however, clarified that the PEC had decided that the body would second-guess the decision of the NEC, such as the step aside guidelines, even though there were clear differences in how it should be implemented.
The powerful eThekwini region was touting its regional chairperson Gumede for the position of provincial treasurer, despite her being out on R50 000 bail as she is facing fraud, corruption, and money-laundering charges in connection with a R320 million Durban Solid Waste tender.
Gumede was forced to vacate her position after being elected chairperson of eThekwini as part of the ANC’s step-aside policy on members facing criminal charges.
The new step-aside guidelines also prevented her from taking part in the provincial conference.
The incumbent chairperson and KZN premier, Sihle Zikalala, had been nominated to retain this position and is set to face off against a whole host of other nominees vying for the position.
Nomusa Dube, the KZN Finance MEC, businessman Sandile Zungu, former youth league leader Sboniso Duma, Ntuthuko Mahlaba, the Newcastle-based surgeon, and Mbuso Kubeka, ANC regional chairperson, were all said to contesting for the position – the most candidates any province that had held its elective conference has fielded so far.
The position of KZN provincial secretary was also likely to be contested as branches had nominated the incumbent, Mdumiseni Ntuli, and Kokstad mayor Bheki Mtolo.
Despite the numerous challenges facing the province before it headed to its elective conference, Ntuli said the ANC in KZN was at its most stable compared to four years ago.
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He, however, acknowledged that unforeseen challenges such as adverse weather conditions had already caused serious delays to the processes leading up to the provincial conference as branches could not meet as a result of the storms and the heavy floods.
Ntuli also added that even the venue for the conference was yet to be confirmed despite a date being set. He said the party was, however, engaging various service providers and weighing up the best prices.