By Siboniso Mawandla
As the African National Congress (ANC) National Conference draws closer, branches continue to express their voice on their preferred candidates. On Sunday, KwaZulu-Natal branches in the Northern part of the province announced their preferred candidates defying the provincial position taken by Sihle Zikalala-led ANC – for now. Ward 8 in the provinces’ third biggest region hosted and nominated ANC National Treasury General, Dr Zweli Mkhize as their preferred candidate.
Dr Mkhize received a warm welcome in the dusty streets of Godlwayo, where leaders of the branch and the entire sub-region of Pongola gathered to listen to his lecture. The branch chairperson, Joe Radebe, said “we are of the view that Mkhize will unite the party, as the result we call this a deployment.”
Dr Mkhize spoke candidly about problems facing the alliance and why unity is important. Tension within the alliance partners ANC, Cosatu and ANC has risen amid the calls for president of the republic of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma to step down. Both Cosatu and SACP have called for Mr Zuma to step down as allegations of state capture and scandals engulf his administration. Dr Mkhize reminded alliance partners that the wisdom of Mzala Nxumalo, who he delivered his lecture on the day, should guide the alliance as we head to the conference.
The province has been mired with branch buying, untimely disbandment and gigantic court battle as the elective conference draw closer. It is believed that some of the branches are facing disbandment in what appears as a sign of intimidation for failing to rally behind Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s candidacy. Those believed to be backing former ANC chairperson and premier of KZN, Senzo Mchunu are under the microscope of the provincial leadership.
Meanwhile, as both camps wait in anticipation for the court date, Dr Mkhize’s nomination comes may present both faction a chance to reconcile and unit behind him to defeat Cyril Ramaphosa.
Surprisingly, there are branches within the area that did not attend the event. It is alleged that about three branches refused to be part of the event, a claim that has been confirmed by Hadebe.
“There are branches that denied a transport that was provided, branches such as the one led by Bhekisisa Kunene – an ally of an ANCYL Provincial Secretary, Thanduxolo Sabela. Sabela is believed to be a staunch supporter of Dlamini-Zuma. Kunene is alleged to have refused to come to the event in a support of Sabela who has lost control of the youth league in the area.
However, Hadebe believes that Dr Mkhize is the only ticket to a united ANC after the national conference. “He said this is the view of 71 branches in the region. Abaqulusi has 91 branches in total. We have used a criteria to vet all the candidates and we emerged as the region with the view that Cde Zweli Mkhize is the best candidate as we look for unity in the ANC,” he said.