Duma’s premiership ambitions faltering

The embarrassing incident in which KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) ANC chairperson Siboniso Duma grabbed the microphone from AmaZulu traditional prime minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi- has left his “Taliban” faction divided whether he is the governing party’s right premier candidate post-May 29 general elections.

Duma, a controversy magnet, yanked the microphone from Buthelezi in front of King MisuZulu kaZwelithi-ni and President Cyril Ramaphosa- during the 110th commemoration of the death of King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo.

Buthelezi was criticising ANC leaders in the province and was about to introduce the king when Duma, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development and tourism, who was the MC at the event, grabbed the microphone from him. Buthelezi, of the IFP, is the mayor of Zululand District Municipality.

The incident, which was captured on camera, sent shockwaves across the country, with certain quarters slamming Duma for lacking emotional intelligence and political tolerance.

By virtue of his position as the governing party’s chairperson in the province, Duma would be the leading contender, particularly because the ANC seeks to avoid a discussion around the often destabilising two centres of power scenario in which its provincial leader is not the head of government.

But the incident appears to have chipped away at his credibility as the right candidate to be head of government.

“One thing that keeps coming up is who should be premier. Duma doesn’t look like a clear favourite, but ANC tradition has it that they avoid the two power centres. He had a better chance of becoming a serious candidate then but not anymore,” said a national executive committee member close to the discussions.

The person added that the recent incident had also encouraged those who believed that Duma lacked leadership capacity and acumen.

“This thing is beginning to be used against him by people who did not even want him in the first place, but among themselves as the Taliban faction, there are fractures. They are divided on who should be the premier after the elections,” the insider said.

Other names being touted for the premier post were current premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and provincial health MEC Nomagugu Simelane.

But another member, who did not want to be named, said Duma was the right man to be their premier.

“We do not want two centres of power; it would be foolhardy to disregard the hard work and leadership he possesses based on some incident that involves opposition party members,” said the leader.

A senior ANC leader said Duma was not the ANC’s only headache in the province.

A second major conundrum for the ANC, said the member, was the choice of a coalition partner if the party failed to garner an outright majority and fell below 40% voter support.

“If the ANC falls below 40%, who should be our coalition partner? Those are the main debates among our KZN members at the moment,” said the source.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal did not respond to questions sent to them.

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