Sunday Times E-Edition

ANC to parachute election team into ‘weak’ KZN


● The ANC’s national working committee (NWC) is sending a team of senior leaders to KwaZulu-Natal to bolster the party’s election prospects in the province, where Luthuli House fears leadership deficiencies could cost it votes next year.

Several NWC members said a decision to send the team to guide the party’s election campaign was made during an NWC visit to the province last weekend. The NWC previously visited Limpopo and is expected to visit North West next.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Luthuli House was concerned the provincial executive committee (PEC) in KwaZulu-Natal was weak and inspired little trust or respect among the electorate.

KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga are key power bases for the ANC in national elections. A loss in any of them would be a major setback. In the 2019 elections the ANC received 54% support in KwaZulu-Natal, a 10 percentage point plunge from 2014.

“We are sending an extra team to KwaZulu-Natal for election purposes. We are worried because we have a [leadership] crèche in the province that doesn’t work, to put it simply,” one of the NWC members said. “That’s some of the analysis, that we don’t have leadership there. They are weak, they are focused on self-centred issues, they are not rebuilding. But generally they are not gaining respect from the population and the community.”

Two NWC members said one option that was considered was to disband the PEC, but this was ruled out because of the disruption it would cause as the elections approached.

One source said another consideration was internal party politics — the provincial leadership had supported Zweli Mkhize when he challenged President Cyril Ramaphosa for the party leadership at its national conference in December, and disbanding the PEC could be seen as retaliation.

Another NWC member said there was consensus that the KwaZulu-Natal leadership left much to be desired, but it would not make sense to “support a disbandment of any structure between now and elections, no matter how weak it is”.

The team being sent to the province would take the lead in preparations for the elections. “On the election campaign, they will drive it, there we are clear,” one of the sources said. “They haven’t finalised who these people will be, but we said they must find a team, almost like a team of elders, people who are more experienced, more respected, but who will also help us to navigate a complex province.

“It’s like a support team to close the gap where it’s existing now. We asked for the secretary-general [Fikile Mbalula] to go literally immediately to convey some of these urgent messages to the provincial secretary.”

However, ANC first deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane dismissed the view that reinforcements were being sent to KwaZulu-Natal because of shortcomings in the provincial leadership, saying the party was boosting capacity in all provinces ahead of the elections.

ANC KZN secretary Bheki Mtolo said people must accept that they were overwhelmingly elected at the provincial conference in July instead of seeking to destroy them.

“This current PEC will deliver a decisive victory for the ANC in 2024 and reclaim back lost municipalities that were dismally lost in 2021,” he said.

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