Renewal vs continuity: Nyawose and Gumede fight to control ANC in eThekwini

A fierce battle awaits in Durban just hours before the ANC in eThekwini holds its highly anticipated regional conference.

FILE: An ANC flag flies outside a polling station in Langa, near Cape Town, on 1 November 2021. Picture: AFP

DURBAN - A fierce battle awaits in Durban just hours before the ANC in eThekwini holds its highly anticipated regional conference.

Threats of litigation, drawn out debates over voting allocations and fears over verification processes and incomplete disputes flew in the air as delegates slowly and quietly registered for the event.

Leaders across ANC structures, including those in the national executive committee were likely to be keen observers of this event as the next two days could give insights into the mood and direction of the ANC’s largest province ahead of the much-anticipated elective conference in December.

KwaZulu-Natal left the 2017 conference as its biggest loser as divisions cost the province and its preferred candidate key positions in the party.

Pundits believe corruption accused Zandile Gumede was likely to be nominated and elected, while sitting at home, where she would remain as opposed to leading the collective that would be elected alongside her.

Gumede faced corruption charges stemming from her time as eThekwini mayor and has stepped in line with the ANC’s 2017 conference resolution.

Her supporters, including Ntando Kuzwayo, who represented branches in the region aligned with the embattled leader, believe it was of no consequence, whether she was in her office or not, arguing that she would not be elected alone but with a collective that could move the region forward and perform its day-to-day duties.

“She is going to be the chair of a collective, it’s not just her we are electing. Its Mama, its Thembo [Themba Ntuli], its Musa [Nciki], [Nkosentle] Madlala, its Zo [Zoe Shabalala], so it’s quite a number of people that we are going to be elective and we believe that collective will lead the region in the right direction,” Kuzwayo told Eyewitness News at the side lines of a caucus gathering in Zimbali.

eThekwini metro council speaker, seen by many as a well-known Cyril Ramaphosa backer Thabani Nyawose, part of a disbanded leadership that gave rise to Gumede’s first term as chair, is having a go at it again.

He punted renewal of both the branches and the regional executive committee, should delegates put their confidence in his leadership.

Nyawose told Eyewitness News this week that there has been no stability in the region for a while, arguing that most executive committees in the region do not finish their term.

"Once you have stability in the structures, then you can start a programme where you are making a call to all ANC members who for whatever reason decided not to renew their membership,” Nyawose said.

Regional Coordinator Bheki Ntuli will contest the secretary post, while former ANC youth league KwaZulu-Natal Secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo is expected to put his hand up and avail himself for the position of deputy regional secretary.

The two opposing slates argue that they contain the best vision to drive the region forward, with Gumede’s slate emphasising unity and continuity, while Nyawose’s backers are selling the ideas of renewal, rebuilding and unity.

The eThekwini conference will run for two days kicking off on Saturday morning and close on Sunday afternoon.