Former President Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa – Both have a lot to account for
Photo Polity.org.za via news24wire
It may not be boldly apparent yet, but the tension is simmering between factions in the African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal. That’s according to political analyst Ebrahim Harvey. He spoke to Julie Alli following the provincial elective conference.
The party’s KwaZulu-Natal region held its ninth provincial elective conference at the Olive Convention Centre in the coastal city of eThekwini over the weekend. Although it was not marred by violent scenes that had upstaged other provincial conferences, Harvey said there remained an element of tension.
“Although this one was not marred by violence – which you have to concede was a positive development given what has happened at previous ANC conferences – but look how president [Cyril] Ramaphosa was booed on his arrival … look how he was booed when he left,” said Harvey.
He added, “The tensions were high. [Jacob] Zuma’s son was outside with placards calling for Cyril to be removed and a whole lot of things.”
Ramaphosa is heckled
President Cyril Ramaphosa managed to address delegates on Sunday evening, despite being heckled by the pro-Zuma faction. This, according to Harvey, was a sign that tension is simmering between factions.
“That’s right on top of all the significant indicators that are very worrying. It shows you what it’s going to do. It’s now turned into open factious warfare and I’m telling you in the media it’s going to get worse as we move towards December. You can see very clearly that region is fully behind Zuma,” said Harvey.
KZN has long been considered a stronghold for former President Jacob Zuma. When Ramaphosa took to the podium, delegates began singing “wenzeni uZuma”, meaning ‘what has Zuma done’.
Zuma was forced to resign in 2018 following Ramaphosa’s election as president of the ANC at its national conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg, in 2017. Zuma was later incarcerated in 2021 for contempt of court, sparking widespread anarchy within KZN and Gauteng.
“What they were singing today was not directed at anyone but they want you as the leadership to note their concerns … The song Wenzeni u’Zuma has a history and therefore when delegates see leadership, it’s an opportunity for them to say leadership take note of our pain, our complaints,” ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told journalists on Friday.
New leadership elected
At the elective conference, delegates elected the party’s new provincial leadership. Siboniso Duma replaced Sihle Zikalala as chairperson. Current Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane replaced Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu for the position of deputy chairperson, while former Newcastle mayor and the current regional chairperson Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba beat Human Settlements MEC Jomo Sibiya for the treasurer position.
According to Harvey, the results of this conference could stir trouble for Ramaphosa, who is fighting for his presidency in the upcoming national conference. His defeat, Harvey said, could be disastrous for South Africa.
“It’s not that Cyril has done a good job. It’s in spite of the fact that he has not done a good job. He’s inconsistent, contradictory, and messing up a lot of things… that shows you how bad the other side is that I’m still saying I would hope that he stands and that he wins in December because if not, we’re going to be in bigger trouble,” he said.