Durban – Eastern Cape leaders aligned to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa were set to emerge victorious during the OR Tambo region elective conference as the ruling party’s succession battle began in earnest.
This past weekend, it came to light that Ramaphosa’s backers were likely to win key positions in the region without any contestation from the so-called Radical Economic Transformation (RET) forces.
The electoral conference, which started yesterday, ends today.
Newly elected OR Tambo district municipality executive mayor Mesuli Ngqondwana was expected to become the new regional chairperson, with the district municipality’s speaker Ntandokazi Capa as his deputy.
Newly sworn-in councillor and Ngqondwana’s mayoral committee member, Nkosifikile Gqomo, was set to be elected regional treasurer.
OR Tambo region is the biggest in Eastern Cape and the outcome of its conference will be a boost for premier Oscar Mabuyane’s bid for a second term as provincial chairperson.
Mabuyane is Ramaphosa’s key ally in the province, which is the third-largest in terms of numbers. The emergence of Mabuyane’s allies comes as Ramaphosa’s opponents in KwaZulu-Natal, the party’s biggest province in terms of numbers, prepare to remove the president at the party’s elective conference next December.
Sunday World understands that supporters of former president Jacob Zuma want eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda to replace Sihle Zikalala as ANC chairperson in the province.
Zuma has been credited with saving eThekwini from being snatched by opposition parties at the recent local elections.
Kaunda, a known Zuma supporter, is believed to be aligned with the so-called RET forces, which also support suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
According to senior ANC leaders in the province, RET forces are also pushing for embattled former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, another Zuma ally, to be re-elected regional chairperson.
“We have done a lot of work on the ground … Remember that she was unceremoniously removed on trumped-up charges, which is part of a political strategy to alienate people considered to be allies of uMsholozi [Zuma],” he said.
He said Kaunda will then be deployed as KwaZulu- Natal premier once he is elected provincial chairperson at the region’s elective conference scheduled for early next year.
Another senior leader, who also serves as an eThekwini metro councillor, told Sunday World that the RET forces have also decided to defy the provincial leadership.
“There is a clear mandate that comrade Sihle [Zikalala] must not come back. We have lost confidence in his leadership because we feel that he is not one of us. He is leaning towards Ramaphosa. They did not even support us when we said we wanted to visit uMsholozi,” he said.