The KwaZulu-Natal ANC leadership election has come down to a two-way contest between sitting chairperson Sihle Zikalala and senior party member of the provincial legislature Siboniso Duma after two other would-be contenders failed to make it onto the ballot.
The two contenders were nominated by branches ahead of the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial conference that began in Durban on Friday, despite the hype generated by the announcement of several other figures associated with the party that they wanted to challenge for the position.
On Saturday, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, the sitting treasurer, was nominated from the floor as chair by one of the eThekwini branches, and she accepted.
However, Dube-Ncube failed by a significant margin to secure a secondment from the necessary 25% of the 1,607 delegates to get onto the ballot and was unable to contest for the post.
AmaZulu FC owner Sandile Zungu, who had announced his intention to stand last week after having withdrawn, was nominated from the floor but declined, avoiding the embarrassment of not making it onto the ballot.
Zungu had claimed support from the radical economic transformation (RET) faction and from former president Jacob Zuma, who he had visited for “advice” ahead of the conference.
The contest will now be fought between the “Ankole” faction led by Zikalala and which supports a second term for president Cyril Ramaphosa, and the “Taliban” grouping, which has been mobilising ahead of the conference.
The Talibans have the support of some of the RET branches in the province and are linked to several powerful national players, including presidential hopeful Zweli Mkhize and acting secretary general Paul Mashatile, who is likely to stand as deputy president.
This weekend’s provincial contest will give an indication of how Ramaphosa and his opponents are likely to perform at the national conference in December. KwaZulu-Natal is one of the biggest ANC provinces and the outcome is an important indicator of where the balance of forces lies.
The remainder of the top five posts are being contested along the same Ankole-Taliban lines, with sitting secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli being challenged for the position by Kokstad mayor Bheki Mtolo.
Mtolo’s grouping is being courted by Mkhize, who hopes they will be central to his bid for the ANC presidency in December, but is also understood to have a relationship with the “Adiwele” faction in the party.
The Adiwele group also has links to Mashatile through Lebogang Maile, the Gauteng member of the executive council (MEC) for cooperative governance who unsuccessfully stood for the position of that province’s chairperson last month.
The deputy chairperson’s post will be contested by education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, Zikalala’s ally, and health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, who was nominated from the floor.
The sitting deputy secretary, Sipho Hlomuka, a key figure in the Taliban group, will face a challenge from Nontembeko Boyce, the KwaZulu-Natal legislature speaker.
eThekwini chairperson Zandile Gumede, who is not permitted to stand because she is facing corruption charges, was nominated, but declined.
Jomo Sibiya, the human settlements MEC was nominated from the floor as was Nututko Mahlaba, the Newcastle mayor and eMalahleni chairperson.
The result of the top five election is expected on Saturday night, after which the voting for the additional members of the provincial executive committee and policy discussions will take place.
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