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Zandile Gumede welcomed as new ANC eThekwini chair

Gumede was elected chair of the eThekwini region after beating Mayor James Nxumalo.

FILE: ANC flags. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal has welcomed Zandile Gumede's election as chairperson of the party's biggest region in the country after infighting that led to an eleventh hour High Court application to stop the conference from going ahead.

Gumede was elected chair of the eThekwini region during the early hours of Sunday morning, beating Mayor James Nxumalo for the position.

The conflict in the region is seen as a tussle between factions either for or against recently appointed provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala, who is seen to be a supporter of President Jacob Zuma.

The ANC in the province has called on members to close ranks and rally behind the newly elected leadership.

Spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said there were attempts to sabotage the conference by people within the party but in the end, despite several branches boycotting the gathering, delegates voted in a new Regional Executive Committee.

"We were expecting about 350 delegates, if I'm not mistaken and we had in attendance more than 285 delegates. So overwhelmingly the conference was attended.

"We noted the fact that there were few branches and their delegates who didn't participate but we understood that it's because of the campaign that has been continuing since the provincial conference to discredit whatever that the leadership was trying to do in the province."

More than 20 branches reportedly boycotted the conference.

In February, the region's conference was nullified because three branches had not been properly audited.

Nxumalo beat Gumede by 253 votes to 212 during a vote at the discredited conference.

Nxumalo is seen to be a supporter of ousted Provincial chairperson Senzo Mchunu, who is also the Premier.