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Sihle Zikalala: Unifying KZN ANC a priority

KZN ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala says they are striving to unite before the December elective conference and restore the strength of the province.

FILE: ANC KZN chairperson Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) African National Congress (ANC) chairperson Sihle Zikalala says his priority is to unify what he concedes is a divided province ahead of the elective conference in December.

Speaking during a wide-ranging interview with Eyewitness News Zikalala says this includes continued discussions with aggrieved branches and his predecessor Senzo Mchunu who are challenging his leadership in court.

He said he had also been engaging with the SACP as tensions have seen the killing of members from both formations being killed before last year’s municipal elections.

“We are engaging with the SACP, and are also working to identify those areas that have been hotspots such as Inchanga. We have developed a common approach to dealing with those issues.”

Zikalala shied away from explaining the contents of his conversation with Mchunu and if an out of court settlement was on the cards, saying he would not want to speak on his predecessor’s behalf.

“No, no, no, we do not want to deal with issues of courts here, but with engaging with comrades. Engaging with comrade Senzo is important for us as an organisation. We must find each other to build unity.”

Mchunu was ousted at the controversial 2015 provincial elective conference – which had previously been postponed four times – and accusations of vote rigging have been levelled against the new leadership.

The national ANC has been accused of endorsing an illegitimate leadership and a so-called group of ‘rebel’ ANC branches is contesting the provincial executive’s legitimacy.

Zikalala said he remained confident that they would be able to respond to all the questions posed to them in court surrounding the leadership contest.

He added that there was no political motive behind the party’s lawyers pulling out of a court battle which will ultimately determine whether his leadership is legitimate before the party’s December national elective conference.

Zikalala said the lawyers, from law firm Ngubane and Wills, pulled out of the case due to other engagements and it was not linked to politics as previously speculated.

One of the advocates in the case Sibusisiwe Ngubane Zulu is also believed to be related to treasurer general Zweli Mkhize.

Some observers say the withdrawal is linked to Zikalala’s failure to support Mkhize in the province.

But Zikalala insists the lawyers had other commitments to attend to.

“It’s not a delay tactic because we want to go to court and resolve this matter because there is nothing we cannot answer to.”

The dissolution of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC – particularly Zikalala – who is seen to be in support of President Jacob Zuma - has direct implications on who the biggest branch of the ruling party will endorse in December.

Zikalala says those, including some within his province, making leadership pronouncements have been ill-disciplined.

“It’s not only the youth league that has spoken about their preferences going into the national conference. The women’s league has spoken, various leaders of the ANC have spoken about who they prefer. All of that constitutes ill-discipline.”